The list of things I’ve learned this year is pretty long, but one thing I keep coming back to is: if you want something different, you have to create space for it.
And so I have tried to deliberately create it (with mixed results) but above all be mindful about what (and who) I let in, and what commitments I take on.
It’s easy to say no to “bad” things. But it’s hard to say no to things that are good-but-not-great. I’ve been trying to celebrate saying no, create a reward cycle there.
Last week I had cause to consider what I’ve been doing since leaving tech. I was on a podcast, and it’s one of the things we talked about, I hung out with a friend who just embraced funemployment, and I was thinking about what is next for me.
Perhaps this is a long-winded way to say, I’ve completely come around to something I never thought would be me – leaving the old thing, without knowing what’s next.
Because if you have a job that uses up most of your emotional energy, how do you figure out what’s next whilst doing it?
And time. One thing I’ve observed over the course of a year is that the reasons I left, different ones have loomed larger at different times. The things that were most stressful to me in the last weeks disappeared pretty quickly. When a number of women left and talked about why, those reasons loomed larger. Really they were all a product of one reason: it was time.
But it took time to figure out what should be next. What’s petty and what’s fundamental. What I want to do. What I care about.
A year ago I would have made different decisions than I made last week. And this is always going to be true, hopefully. Because you learn and you develop and different things seem possible. But also we make different decisions from a place of panic and fear than we do from a centred calm. We make different decisions when we focus on our strengths than when our confidence has been eroded away.
As a driven over-achiever type person, the idea that I might “opt out”, give myself space and time was a terrifying one. But nothing I have ever done has been so revelatory, or worthwhile.