You can escape them too … but without all the hullabaloo.
I used to be a corporate executive.
I ticked the boxes I was supposed to tick, I climbed the ladder and I reached the pinnacle.
I spent every day running around, looking after everyone else and making sure everyone was OK. During the day, I solved everyone else’s problems, and at night I got the work done that had been ignored throughout the day.
I existed on roughly two hours a night of very disrupted sleep for over twelve years. I was way past being burnt out, and yet I pushed on anyway.
I was in chains, but I had no idea.
I was busy.
I was stressed, I was exhausted and I was strong. I was everything I was supposed to be, and when people looked at me they saw my achievements as something to aspire to.
I was so enmeshed in my way of life that it seemed impossible to change direction and find a different way. I was chained to my desk, chained to my computer and completely imprisoned by the façade I was holding in place.
I worked hard to get everything right. I excelled at making everyone believe I had it all. I mastered the art of gliding effortlessly on the surface, whilst working furiously behind closed doors to keep things going.
But what was I fighting for?
The truth was that I was terrified that anyone would follow in my footsteps. My life was out of control, held together by the thinnest of threads that were stretched to their capacity.
I was miserable, unwell and living a life so removed from who I AM, but was fooled into believing that I was doing what was required to be successful.
I used every ounce of my energy, fighting to keep living in a world that clashed with my values. I fought to do good in a world full of smoke and mirrors. I lost myself trying to keep up in a world that didn’t matter to me at all.
And then my world blew up in less than 60 seconds.
After years of resolutely refusing to look at what I needed to be OK, I lost everything in less than a minute. I went from being an award-winning executive to on the floor, unable to participate in everyday life and unable to stop crying.
I had pushed way too hard for way too long, and I was dropped with such a force that I couldn’t get back up again. It took me three years to recover, to rebuild myself and create a life that allowed me to break the shackles and move forward in a different way.
It’s all about who you choose to become.
The three years of recovery was intensive, invasive and overwhelming.
I was completely broken, and I had to find a way to pick up the pieces, put them together again and create a way of living that didn’t include stress, pressure and exhaustion.
Simplicity was my answer.
Life is complex and noisy, and our lives are lived through reaction in so many ways. We spin from crisis to crisis, often dealing with multiple challenges from several areas of our lives at the same time.
We can choose to sit within the chaos, or we can step outside and find the simplest pathway forwards.
The corporate world gets the blame for so many things, but it’s not really fair to lay responsibility for your own wellbeing at the feet of others. Like any other part of the world, corporate operates in a particular way … but you can still choose who you are going to be within that world.
You don’t have to break to be able to break free.
I’ve been there. I shattered into a million pieces. I did the work to get back to participating in life again.
My life now is so cool.
It’s full of so many things that bring so much joy, fun, love and laughter. I know who I AM. I know what feeds my energy, and I consciously choose to give myself those things every day.
But here’s the rub: there is nothing I have now that wasn’t easily, readily and affordably available to me before I broke.
I realise now that I pushed myself because I believed I had to. I burnt out and kept going because I thought that was what was required.
The reality is that there were simple, practical and easy things I could have done every day that would have significantly changed the way I lived my life. I just didn’t know that they were an option.
You don’t have to break to be free. You can change the direction of your life through doing a few things a little bit differently. And you can start right now.
All it takes is making the decision that you want your life to be different, and summoning a little bit of courage to take the first step.
If you want some suggestions of steps that can help you to move forward in a different way, you can find loads in the articles and videos in my FREE email series – it’s a great way to help you begin your journey. Simply click here to start you on your way.
This article first appeared on Prosperi Press in October 2020. You can read the article by clicking here.