Rather than continue the countdown till New Year’s as I’d originally planned, last Sunday I launched my year-long experiment with immediate effect.
The idea is to buy my life back.
Since I kick started the experiment 3 weeks prematurely, I wasn’t sure how I’d mark the occasion.
Until it became obvious…
On Tuesday afternoon, towards the end of a 2-day work meeting in New York, in a conference room called Central Park A, when it was my turn to speak I told the 6 people sitting around the table before me, the same 6 people that I report to, that after 15 years on the job I can’t hack it anymore.
While it is true that I’ve said the very same thing to my employer once before, this time my intention isn’t to quit. For reasons even stronger than super-glue, this is not what I want.
Five years have passed since the last time I said this. And at that time it was pretty much a risk-free statement, I’d just spent months interviewing and had accepted a job to go off and “save the children”.
Obviously I went and changed my mind. My employers made a counter-offer I hadn’t seen coming:
More money, fewer hours, a new job, a different boss and an office only a short walk from home
And so I chose to stay and save myself instead.
And it worked.
For a while.
This time around, as I sat in Central Park A, I’ve no idea if it was wise to say what I said. Making such a bald statement, without an alternative lined up, well, it didn’t seem a smart move to me. That little thrill you’re meant to feel when you face your fears … it showed up, just long enough to rush up my neck and make me trip on my words — then BING, it was gone.
People forget to remind you just how hard it is to do the things you’re no good at, the things you’ve long avoided for a reason!
Breaking habits that perfectly suit your basic personality and that you’ve reinforced a gazillion times with behaviour for which you’ve been rewarded … does NOT feel good.
Asserting “my own needs” — which is what friends tell me I must do, makes me nervous. And not just a little nervous, but exposed and easy-to-crush. Taking care of the needs of others — that’s where I’m strong. This is what makes me feel secure.
After I’d said my piece in Central Park A, there was a question or two and then we moved on.
We didn’t talk about what to do about what I’d just said. It wasn’t that kind of moment. It wasn’t that kind of meeting. Though I knew that what I’d said had definitely been heard, it went unspoken that just like everyone else at the table, I’ll lie down over Christmas and come back less whacked out with stress.
But I’ll also be coming back with my year-long experiment well underway. One I’ve been plotting for most of this year, one designed to help me work out what my own needs really are and what it’s going to cost to fulfil them.
More on how I intend to do this next week!