Analysing the Problem

Firstly, I must confess I am overwhelmed by the support and compassion shown by the readers thus far. In less than 24 hours I have had over 300 page views which I’m astounded at. I’ve always been very cautious to share my views and feelings publicly but I must say I’m really excited about sharing this journey and perhaps having it resonate with some of you. Thank you for your interest and the well-needed support you’ve offered me.

I have often had some really interesting discussions around the concept of a career passion. I’ve been amazed at how many people have revealed that their life passion is not what they are currently doing for a living. What surprises me is that it’s mostly people who I already perceive to be experts in their field. How many of us are walking around with hidden passions and incredible talents that are not being used? This blog is about my journey from where I am now to a future career that is designed on purpose to make the most of my talents and abilities. I’m hoping that it inspires some of you to take steps towards making your life more enjoyable too.

Medication is all good and well. But I don’t believe I’ll get a lot better by medication alone. The source of the problem needs to be uncovered and addressed in order to get fully well and avoid a relapse. So being the problem-solver that I am, I’ve spent a lot of time analysing what caused me to get so sick from stress. Why doesn’t this happen to other people? Am I not strong enough to withstand the stress when others can? And yes, I even drew a diagram. To protect the names of the not-so-innocent, I’ve sanitized it a bit.

 

There’s a lot in there to digest so I’ll just keep it high-level. My sources of stress are the following:

  • Sense of obligation to deliver on my promises – to various life stakeholders
  • Being behind in technology by about 20 years, the need to catch-up and meet with regulation, led to no opportunity to innovate. Life without innovation is boring to me.
  • Without a modern system, I could not fulfill my vision for the company.
  • I need to work with people who can be inspired, who want me as their leader and who want to improve.
  • As an introvert, I spent the whole day meeting the needs of others. After work, the onslaught of little children and meeting their needs meant no respite for me to  recover.
  • As someone who is right brained, my day was filled with admin, accounting and compliance. No room to create the new, and have some fun.

If I had known myself better at the outset, I could have rearranged things to ensure my environment met my needs. Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, has helped me a great deal in knowing myself better and accepting myself. Introverts are not dysfunctional, they can be spectacular. Albert Einstein, Steve Wozniak, Gandhi, Dr Seuss are examples of famous introverts. But now I know. I must consciously design my future to meet my own needs, not only the needs of others.

And to think this is only the start of the journey – very exciting. Pity it took a serious illness to trigger it, but perhaps many of us are not listening to the cues around us or our own bodies telling us that it’s not sustainable. Hopefully some of you can learn from my mistake and change direction before you become ill.A quote from Petrus, the guide in Paulo Coelho’s The Pilgrimage “The person who does not know how to listen will never hear the advice that life offers us all the time.”

Introduction

I’ve recently been diagnosed with a stress-induced life-long condition. This has caused me to re-evaluate my life and ensure that I make the rest of it meaningful and intention-filled. I’ve also just turned 40 so I figure the Universe is telling me to take stock.

To me, being happy is the most important thing in life. Happiness is not wealth, or stuff, but people and being the best person I can be. I read an article recently about the regrets people have when they’re close to death. The underlying theme is relationships and this is something
that has come up a lot in my life.

I’m not particularly a people’s person but I am a people-pleaser (or an Obliger as Gretchen Rubin would say). I’m an introvert and get very tired being around people a lot. Taking time to recharge can be very difficult in a house where the little people follow me to the toilet. That being said, I do love people and need them in my day.

I’m blessed to have a wonderful husband and two amazing little girls who are the source of great joy for me. They drive me nuts too, don’t get me wrong. We live in a great home with fun, noise and laughter. I value my friends a lot, although I’m not a very good friend. Perhaps once I’ve finished my journey I’ll be a better friend.

The primary source of stress in my life has always been work. Since I’ve started working, I’ve tried really hard to give it my best and with reasonable success. The last five years of my career have been the hardest by far. I’ve been managing a business I took over from my father. I learned a great deal but I have discovered over the past few months that it is not my passion and never will be. Living someone else’s dream is not the path to happiness.

I’ve subscribed to many newsletters and have been watching TED talks and reading numerous books on the search for happiness. I’ve learned some wonderful things and I don’t remember a time when I’ve grown so much inside. And maybe outside from not being allowed to exercise!

I believe that meaning is the most important aspect of making our work-lives happy. That’s why I left the corporate world – I didn’t have meaning. And after just having had a child, my world was full of meaning at home. The stark contrast at work was too much to bear. I jumped into the family business head first and started learning and learning and learning. I made mistakes but I also had successes and loved the ability to steer the ship myself into a direction that I decided. I made sure I measured the results and that was really fulfilling, when I got it right.

What was fundamentally missing from this equation was that I was not being true to my self. I think that relationships with people are important but the one with yourself is a non-negotiable! I’m a right-brained person doing admin and accounting for most of my day. I’m an introvert, trying to sell. I have a lot of things to offer but they won’t be found when I’m in the foetal position trying to recover from doing things I hate, and being who I’m not. I need to know myself well enough and be kind to myself to make sure I’m ok too. Something mothers sometimes don’t get right.

I strongly believe that we can engineer our own lives to be happy. I’m always going on about how happiness is a choice. There are too many miserable people in the world, not doing a thing to change their circumstances. And now I find myself with a serious illness that is keeping me from any kind of exercise. The same person who runs ultra-marathons for fun. What I am forced into now is rest and recovery. It’s boring, very boring.

But this is my journey and there is something important to learn from this experience. This may just be the catalyst that my life needed to be overflowing with joy – not only from my family but from my work too.
 

So if you’re interested, please follow me on my journey to design
a new career, based on what I truly love.