You're Fired...Now Go Chase Your Dreams
In the Fall of 2013, I signed the offer letter and began the training. I had been on the hunt for flexible, full-time employment for four months. Bills were paid on time and food was always on the table, but I had begun to wreak of the smell of Fear. My Head and my Heart were at odds. They were playing a game of Tug-of-War I could feel pulsing through my veins.
What I really wanted was to make money doing what I loved - Writing and Coaching. The words in my soul landing beautifully on paper or in someone’s heart brought me a Joy that fed my spirit in ways I was often unable to fully articulate or understand.
By day I scoured countless employment sites searching for that THING that would make me feel as good as Writing and Coaching. At night I outlined the heart-healing stories that would fill the books I penned and had solo brainstorming sessions to figure out how to market my Coaching practice.
As the days went by and the Team Head vs. Team Heart game of Tug-of-War continued, Fear screamed at me daily. I wondered if I could really tell the stories I wanted to tell in a way that people could hear, see and feel. I wondered if I could create a Coaching practice in a new city that I was struggling to get to know.
And then the job offer came. It was the job I needed. Just enough to pay the bills. Just enough to keep me busy. No pressure. No commute. It was the “perfect mix” of money making and freedom. My boss was in another state. My office was the bedroom or the living room or the desk in the corner. And it was just enough to distract me…if I let it.
In no time, I let the job that was to be just enough, become everything. In true Sherry Samuels- Over-Achieving-I-Want-Them-to-Like-Me fashion, I gave it my all. I stayed up late. I got up early. I took calls on Saturdays and responded to emails on Sundays.
My boss applauded my hard work while trying to encourage me to pull back.
HER: Sherry, you’re doing a great job. Please remember that, if I email you in the evening, you don’t have to respond that same evening. You don’t need to keep the hours I keep. You have to have balance.
ME (Words): Ok. That makes sense. I get it. Thank you.
ME (Thoughts): I have succeeded! She likes me! Now go work harder!
That first bonus made me work even harder…even AFTER taxes were taken out. I was relentless. I loved the applause. I loved doing something that really left little room for error or negative feedback. I loved being distracted…until I didn’t.
By the end of year one I was over it. I had become one of those people who lived for the weekend, a mere 48 hours that didn’t “require” response to as many emails. The 48-hour period that allowed me to breathe a little, relax a little. But that didn’t stop me from eyeing that little black company-issued cell phone like I was the anxious mother of a newly-toddling toddler trying to make her way through a room that had not been adequately toddler-proofed. I struggled to breathe a little, relax a little.
I found myself surrounded by a haze of frustration. Frustrated that I didn’t love getting up in the morning. Frustrated that I didn't enjoy what I was spending so much time doing. Frustrated that I didn’t listen to my boss’ urging to pull back. Frustrated that I had allowed Fear to convince me to settle in a way that put Joy on hold.
I wanted more. I wanted my life and my dreams back. I didn’t have the answers for how to get there, but I knew I HAD to get there.
I started with Coaching, finding an office space that I could use as needed for seeing clients. Working with my clients made the bad days better and the great days greater. Although very part-time, I was in love with this part of my life. I needed to create more of THAT feeling. Something had to give. And one Wednesday morning it did.
“We are discontinuing this division in it’s current form. And what comes with that is a separation from the company for most of you.”
I was on the conference line listening to the announcement that I would soon be unemployed. I could hear someone crying, breathing heavy, trying to catch their breath. My heart pounded empathetically for the faceless emotion. I wondered if it were the coworker who had just bought a new home. Or maybe the one preparing for a new baby. Or maybe the one who was just trying to make ends meet from one payday to the next.
I wanted to ask everyone to stop talking so we could figure out who needed a virtual shoulder, a moment of silence, 10 quiet freaking seconds to process.
Further details were shared, explanations offered. I checked in and out, thankful no one could see my face or hear my thoughts.
Now what? Was I supposed to cry? Was I supposed to be shocked?
For months there had been speculation about who would be the next to go. The masses were talking, curious about what was to come. I was preparing, mentally, for the possibility that my head was already lined up on the chopping block while praying that I could just maintain for a few more months.
A few more months was all I needed. That was enough time to figure out ALL the answers to ALL the questions on heavy rotation in my brain. I had convinced myself I needed a little more time, there were bills to be paid. I had financial obligations this job allowed me to meet. I wanted more for my life, but just not right that moment. I needed that job.
My thoughts continued. Part of me did want to cry.
What the hell! I don’t get laid off! I’ve never been laid off! You don’t leave me, I leave YOU! I was just getting ready to sit down to write my (post-dated) resignation letter to you!
Part of me wanted to jump off of the conference line and jump for joy.
I just got my out! Now I get to follow my dreams FULL TIME! Let’s celebrate!”
The call, lasting not more than 20 minutes, ended with sentiments of appreciation by the Higher Ups and Human Resources people who were NOT losing their jobs.
In no time (like less than two hours) I had a Separation Letter and other emails regarding “next steps”. And just like that, it was done. Ready or not, I had gotten what I wanted. Right?
Several weeks prior to that Wednesday morning my Head managed to hear the workings of my Heart.
It’s time. It’s time to shift. It’s time to create. It’s time to move.
I wanted to feel Joy when I heard that voice in my Spirit. Instead, that all-too-familiar feeling of Fear crept up in my belly, reminding me that it wasn’t quite ready to find a new home.
How could it be time?
I thought about the timeline I had created. I thought about ALL the things I didn’t have and ALL the things I wanted. I thought about the risks and rewards. I thought about the haze of Fear and the light of movement.
How could it NOT be time?
And then I remembered a recent prayer…and the importance of being careful what you ask for.
God, please send accelerated growth. I need it. I want it. Please.
I had been allowing Fear to be my employer, to pay my bills, to live my life. As it created the blueprint for my days, Joy was slowly being pushed out of her position.
I had forgotten the sound Joy’s still, small voice, ever-encouraging me to keep moving, to never give up. I had forgotten what Joy looked and smelled like. I had forgotten what it was like to wake up with her every day and to thank her for her presence every night. And then I realized there was an additional Separation Letter that needed to be prepared and delivered.
I sat down with the Fear to explain that there had been a shift in the structure of the business unit that meant I would be “discontinuing that division in it’s current form” and, effective immediately, Fear’s services would no longer be needed with My Company. I thanked Fear for her presence and the lessons she brought, wished her well in future endeavors and asked Joy to assist security in escorting Fear out.
As I watched her walk away, I prayed.
Please open my spirit to the clarity I have been longing for. Let my dreams flourish in ways I had not before imagined. Guide me as I continue to learn to trust the process.
With Fear’s departure has come more questions.
With Fear’s departure has come the realization that more focus and effort are needed.
With Fear’s departure has come even bigger, sometimes overwhelming dreams.
And with Fear’s departure has come the presence of Joy. She answers questions, she pushes me, she reminds me of my greatness. Her voice is louder, stronger, more present than ever.
It’s YOUR time. It’s YOUR time to shift. It’s YOUR time to create. It’s YOUR time to move.