When people ask me how long I thought about leaving my job before I actually did it, I joke and say, “well, I was there for three years, so about two and a half?” Which is partially comedic, but actually quite true.
Flashback to ten months earlier: I was taking the Yoga Tune Up® Level 1 Teacher Training at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. As soon as I got there I set the intention that I would use my phone and the internet on my laptop only one time per day. I wanted to get back to myself and my body and to using my free time in a natural, non-electronically prescribed way, and see what came up.
Ahhhhh… sighed my brain and my body as I got to relax into a deep state of just being: learning, absorbing, metabolizing, and pushing myself to do things a little bit outside my comfort zone.
At the end of the training, I felt a deep sadness at the thought of having to leave. I didn’t want to break the spell and step out of the magic bubble of real human connection and limited technology that I had created for myself within this magical place. I was having lunch with total strangers! The last time that happened was at summer camp… as a camper. I spent my free time walking in meditation in the zen garden.
The last thing I wanted to do was go back to Seattle and slip back into my autopilot routine of commuting, sitting at work, checking email constantly and having surface level “water cooler” conversations that lacked the depth that came so naturally at Kripalu.
Finding a New Sense of Meaning
A new friend I met in the training gave me a ride to a small Massachusetts town on the border of Vermont, and I sat in a coffee shop of the edge of this bubble, trying to draw out the feeling of Kripalu a little longer. I remember deeply enjoying myself, bantering with the baristas, and settling at a high top table with a view out the window into the pouring rain.
I sat there, so content with my decaf coffee, watching the traffic lights change and the passersby run across the street, doing nothing, but feeling so content and so full. Wouldn’t it be nice to do this everyday? I thought, and my brain happily produced an image of me doing the same thing in Seattle: sitting at a cafe, watching people walk by in the rain.
But I realized, it’s not the act of doing this, but rather the state of contentedness and calmness I feel while doing it. I felt full and whole from this transformative experience, from the non-shallow conversation and connections that were made, and from the gratitude I had for the generosity of my new friend to give me a ride completely out of his way. Human connection.
What I was seeking in my everyday life was this calm, content feeling while doing nothing. But that feeling felt inaccessible to me at home because of my corporate job — working in a corporate setting was the exact antithesis to feeling the quiet contentedness I felt in that coffeeshop, after seven days removed from my usual world, immersed in a subject that I was fascinated by.
The Body Knows When It’s Time to Go
About ten months later, I mustered the courage, pulled the trigger, and left my job. Finally, after intentional planning, I officially made the decision and put in my two weeks notice. Immediately after, I sensed my body release tension it had been holding onto. It felt like a big, much needed yawn that was fully expressed, instead of being stifled. The relief!
There is a quote by Victoria Erickson about deciding. She says, “When you finally decide, the fog will lift, the clearing will open toward a new lens and landscape. Deciding paves way for fresh space to pour through.” This is why I think my leaving my job was a grand gesture of self-care. It was symbolic: I finally decided to put my feelings and the messages that my body had been sending me for years ahead of my worries and fears of losing the stability and safety that comes with having a steady paycheck.
I finally decided that I was worth listening to. I was finally honoring my intuition and putting myself first. To me, this is the definition of self-care. This decision has created space for me to wander aimlessly, literally and figuratively, and contemplate what it is I want to do with this one life of mine.
I am not a proponent of everyone quitting their job tomorrow in the name of self-care. But I am offering the permission to look at the messages your body is telling you that you may be stifling, and give yourself permission to listen. To identify the root feelings and the deep messages your body is trying to convey to you. And, if it feels right, honor them and yourself, as your body knows what is best.
Be sure to read next week’s post for some specific techniques you can practice to help you tune in to your own instincts and build courage for a big life decision…
Curious about the Level 1 Certification Course that Erin took? Watch this video for more information.
Thanks for sharing this! Our bodies definitely know best. The manifestation of aches, pain, anxiety I hear this all of the time. Being in alignment with purpose and passion is not a luxury the way people portray it to be, it is a necessity to human beings. Excited for your journey!
Wow! Congrats on making such a bold decision by really listening to your feelings and your body! I believe we are our own greatest teachers. I’m with you there on that feeling of liberation during the teacher training! Every day I got back to my friend’s place (I was crashing at) after training, I was both exhausted, but also super happy! Also beautiful quote from Victoria Erickson. This inspires me to root my decisions intentionally in what I know and feel is true for me.
Many years ago I read Saul Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King and this quote has stuck with me all this time … “I do remember well the hour which burst my spirit’s sleep.” Your story reminds me of this quote. Enjoy your ‘pause!’
Wow – your quote “I was worth listening to”. I’m in the middle of my YTU and those words are a variation on my sankalpa that has been supporting me and guiding me throughout this process. I too left the corporate world and my mind, body and soul also heaved a sigh of relief that I had finally listened to all of the cues they had been offering to make the right kind of life for me.
Went trough this journey last year when co-workers have been totally direspectful to me. I was thinking of quitting for more than a year but a specific event made it very clear for me that I shouldn’t be enduring this any longer. Over a night, my decision was made. It felt so good in my mind and body when I gave my boss the letter why I was quitting on the next day. That couldn’t have been a better decision for my health!
Thank you for sharing your journey. Your self-care actions will pay off when embarking on a wonderful new chapter. My best wishes!
Wow, I love this! I especially resonate with the quote by Victoria Erickson, “When you finally decide, the fog will lift…”. It is so palpable in the physical body. The toughest decision I have ever made created so much anxiety that I would regret whatever I chose, but the second I finally chose I knew it was absolutely the right decision, because my body told me. Fascinating mind-body connection! This article is more and more relevant in our modern world, thank you for writing!
So true – you have to take care of yourself!
I relate so deeply to this. I’d injured my back working in an office job that I really didn’t like, and for over a year and a half I couldn’t get better unless I was away from it entirely. When I returned to work after a couple of months away everything immediately reaggravated and I was absolutely miserable. The best thing I did for myself was to listen to my intuition and just walk away from it entirely. Even though I don’t have the routine or the paycheck that I did before I’m living a much happier and fulfilling life… Read more »
The way you summed up the decision really hit home for me – “This decision has created space for me to wander aimlessly, literally and figuratively, and contemplate what it is I want to do with this one life of mine.” Any tips on maintaining balance after quitting a job?
Way to follow your heart! I admire your determination to take a path that inspires you. It’s been a big leap for me to take the YTU Level 1 training to fulfill an aspect of my retirement, which is to spread the word or rather the relief that YTU can bring. May you enjoy the journey as I am choosing to do so as well.
Hello Erin , so inspiring to hear how close is the connection between mind and body. Freedom in the body gives freedom in the mind ! thank you
Fun to read how participating in yoga tune up inspired you to take a break and think about what’s important to you.
Yes, listening to your body , is such a powerful work.
You can learn so much and deepen your relationship with yourself and with other
This article is inspiring and I’m so happy to hear that you’re following your life’s calling. I am trying to find a path to do the same, while maintaining financial stability. Teaching once per week after work does not feel like enough.
You are brave & courageous! There is no defining who you are & what you can do. “she is small but fearless” comes to mind. I am proud of you. You continue to surprise me, challenge me, & make me want to be a better me. Enjoy this new chapter & adventure in your life. I look forward to seeing you in Maine, should it work out. Be safe, be YOU, & have an amazing journey deciding where to go & what to do next. ❤️
I think everyone has thought about quitting a job and leaving it all behind but I was really inspired to read that you actually did it. I think you hit the nail on the head when you realized that you were looking for a feeling. I have seen a few people I know leave jobs or partners or cities because they feel unsatisfied but they seem to looking to replace those things with newer version assuming that it will make them happy but I think searching for a feeling has always brought me the best result when I was seeking… Read more »
Very enlightening and well said. I am now and have always been proud of you and your determination. I truly hope you find what you are searching for. To be completely truthful I am a bit envious of your moxy even though you get it from me. ? Enjoy your journey. Can’t wait to see you next. I’m sure you will have an entirely new plan and perspective.
Congratulations and good luck in your new journey. What you have done is a brave move, but you already knew that the job you had did not make you happy, your new path is exciting!
I was attracked to the title of this blog… not that it resembles so much to me: I am quite happy with my (self created) job as skincare therapist having a practice/salon in the Netherlands. But I recognised it with my former job as an account manager in a pharmaceutical company. The last few years I knew I wanted to do something more than just being a skincare therapist: I discovered Pilates and because of my background (as a Physiotherapist and as a former dance student on the Rotterdam Dance Academy), for me it was even after only my first… Read more »