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Learn from Barbara Sher, Barbara Winter, and me...

How I Quit My Job... and How You Can Too

For seven years I commuted 90 miles a day to a high-stress job that paid the bills but did not feed my spirit. Although I felt like I was living in a Dilbert cartoon, the demands of work and life left me feeling constantly caught between a "clock and a hard place." I used to fantasize about changing jobs. Whenever my job would get particularly stressful I'd think about doing a job search. But was trading cubicles, or bosses or one set of organizational headaches for another really the solution?

If I'd bothered to look a little deeper, I'd have understood that I yearned for much more than a new job... or even a new career. You see what I really wanted back then was simplicity and balance, to experience right livelihood, and a desire to be my own boss.

Hello. My name is Valerie Young, and welcome to Changing Course.

In principle anyway, I believed author Barbara Sher when she wrote that pursuing your dream "...isn't a luxury that can wait until you've taken care of the 'serious' business of life. It's a necessity."

But in reality, my actions betrayed my beliefs. Somehow I was always too busy putting out fires at work to attend to my own mid-life crisis. So, my longing for career fulfillment and a more simple life was always put on hold.

I was by no means rich, but I was blessed to earn what would be considered a good, middle class salary. I had a new Toyota, a nice home, the luxury of dining out when I felt like it, a closet full of suits. But still, something was missing. What I didn't realize fully then was that I was making a choice. By choosing to have more "stuff" in my life, I had less life. Although I ultimately did choose living a more purposeful life over making a living, it was not before receiving a painful wake-up call.

The Wake-Up Call

On July 31, 1993 my mother Barbara Young died unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 61. My mother died just five months before her much-awaited retirement. It was a sorrowful reminder that life really is too short and precious to defer something as important as our dreams.

A few months after my mother's death I found myself sitting in another insufferably long staff meeting led by an ego-centric boss that no one liked never mind respected. It was one of those meetings where the only one who says what they really think is the boss because the rest of us had learned the hard way that there is a reason why the truth is rarely told between the hours of 9 to 5... and that reason is job security. So instead we'd nod in agreement at the boss's lame plan only to share our true feelings after the meeting.

I'd been in these kinds of meetings hundred of times before but on this day I was overwhelmed by a different feeling. It was a feeling I can only describe as being diagonally parked in a parallel universe. That's when it hit me:

I Didn't Need a New Job — I Needed a New Life!

A life with more balance. A life that included time to spend with the people I love, where I work at something I feel passionate about — and, here comes the real clincher — one that allows me, and not an employer, to decide what time I'll wake up in the morning and how many vacation days I need.

That's the day I decided to follow my bliss.

I was all too aware though, that there was still the little matter of bills to pay! With a mortgage to pay I was naturally intrigued by Marsha Sinetar's first book, Do What You Love the Money Will Follow: Discovering Your Right Livelihood.

I decided to put my money angst on hold for the time being and instead focus on finding my passion, my path, my way.

It May Take Courage to Follow Our Dream but the Alternative is Far Riskier

Like most people I wasn't in a position financially to just up and quit my job. It took two years to fully transition from 9-to-5 (or should I say, the 8-to-late) world.

During that same time I read dozens of other books about career transition. I also talked to lots and lots of people who were in various stages of following their dreams.

In the process I made a wonderful discovery. My passion lay in helping others find and follow their dreams! That's when the idea for Changing Course was born. From here it came down to small steps.

One day I called a local printer for an estimate on business cards. A few days later I called another. I asked a former coworker if she'd design my logo. A few weeks later I ordered the software I'd need to create the website. Not long after I read about a workshop on marketing on the internet. At night I'd go online to research COBRA and other health insurance options for people leaving their jobs.

I know it sounds cliché, but small steps really do add up. Two years of planning, hard work and prayers later, I sit here in my sweat pants and sneakers in my wonderful home office doing exactly what I love to do.

People constantly tell me what a big chance I took giving up my full-time job. But what I've come to realize is that it's far riskier to look back on your life 20 or 30 or 40 years from now and wish you'd done it differently.

Okay. So what about you?

Are You Ready to Change Course?

If you're looking for a fast, effortless way out of your lousy job, I wish you all the luck in the world... because you're going to need it. The fact of the matter is changing course is not easy. Regardless of what the "fast and easy" scam artists tell you, making a meaningful life change requires an investment of time, or money, or both.

The choice is yours. You can wait to hit the lottery or you can begin today to move in the direction of your dreams. As you ponder whether changing course is really worth the effort remember the words of Carlos Castenada who said, "We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of effort is the same."

I'd like to help make the process a little easier for you. You see, I'm passionate about helping people like you to figure out what you'd really like to be when you "grow up" and then how to earn a living doing it.

And remember, with the right tools -- and small steps -- you really can quit your job and create the life you really want. As Charles DuBois once said, "The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become."

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