I started this blog, Finding Your Life Passion, in February 2015, when I was diagnosed with a stress-induced autoimmune disease. It took me about a year to put the label of ‘burnout’ on the incident. I suffered tremendously as a result of this life-altering experience. It shook the very foundation of my existence and it took my confidence, self-concept, my income and my health down with it.
Now, four and a half years later. I am a different person. Before I got sick, I was a people-pleaser, so eager for external validation and so desperate to achieve success. One of the many lessons I’ve learnt in this journey is that achievement and pleasing others are not part of a happy life. And isn’t that what we all want, a happy life?
My burnout took me on a long journey of recovery in so many ways. Physically, it took three years to be able to work a full day, exercise and have enough energy to enjoy time with my family. I had to learn to be kind to myself, to manage my stress and to slow down. I learnt so much along the way, and I’m so grateful that I was able to share it with you, in these 215 blog posts.
I could not return to the work environment that contributed so much to the burnout. I needed to get in touch with what I wanted. I had to find my life passion and I wanted to align it with my career. It took a lot of introspection, learning and growth but it is clear that my life passion is writing. I wrote my first book, Avoiding Burnout to unpack and understand why I got so sick and to share the lessons with others.
I’m writing my second book, Mastering Stress, which is about the stories of everyday people and their relationship with stress. I’ve learnt so much in the past few years about how to find happiness and peace. I have come to a place where I appreciate the lessons of my burnout and I am so grateful to my body for the amazing ways it supports me. I love to share this with the world, and this is part of my life passion. I will continue to write books and to share what I learn as my offering to the world.
But something big has shifted in me recently. I’ve gained two insights that have resulted in significant decisions for me. Firstly, it’s clear that I can’t immediately make money off my passion. I’ve given it my best shot but there comes a time when the writing’s on the wall and I can no longer continue down this path. I think I spent so many years of my life – decades – struggling to prove myself, striving to gain approval through achievement and corporate climbing. I operated under obligation and I wasn’t happy. After burnout, I swung to the opposite extreme, feeling completely entitled to pursue my dreams. Now, I’m finding a middle ground where my passion is my hobby and I have a day job to contribute to my family.
The second big insight is that I spent a lot of time trying to be a nice person. I wanted people to like me, I tried to do the right thing and I supported everyone else. Recent events have shown me that I’m tired of trying to be nice and instead, I’m just going to be myself. I’m embracing the parts of me I previously denied. I’m not always nice but I’d rather be authentic. Some people think I’m fantastic and others think I’m deplorable. And that’s completely okay. I’m just focusing on being real and doing what is right for me and for my family.
Letting go of what people think is a hard thing to do for someone who likes to be liked. I’m sure there are some people who think I’ve been selfish by not earning much for the past eighteen months. I’m sure some people think I’ve been unfair on my husband by not contributing to our family income. But they don’t see the contributions I have made, and continue to make. I’ve made a dramatic difference to the happiness of my family over the past few years.
Spending more time at home, and learning to be mindful has led to insights into what our children need. Those insights would not have come easily to a highly-stressed mom with a full time job. The effort I’ve put into meeting the needs of my children at this young and important age, is invaluable. I’ve also inspired my husband to write about his area of passion: running marathons. He has also discovered a passion for writing and is able to combine two of his favorite things into one activity. This has led to opportunities and happiness for him that would not have come about if it were not for me and my burnout.
I spent three years recovering, and in that time wrote a book which was an important milestone for me. I’ve spent a year and a half promoting the book, doing public speaking and sharing my message through other mechanisms such as workshops and articles. I have discovered a lifetime passion that I will continue to enjoy and I think it was worth stepping away from the traditional workplace to do that. I have built a happy life and now I’m adding income on top of it. I don’t yet have a job and I have no idea what opportunities would be available to someone like me with such a long absence from the workplace.
I planned to make a living out of this work. I planned to inspire millions of people to live better lives. I don’t know if I’ve had an impact on anyone or inspired only a few people, but it was worth a try. I move forward into the unknown a new person. A person who is able to write for enjoyment, someone who can influence people in the workplace in a positive way, and a calmer, more loving mother who actually likes herself. I think that’s progress.
Farewell followers.Be strong, Be bold and live your best life possible.