Originally published on 2018/12/08
I tried reading self-help books. I really did. But they just never captured my attention — except for this one book on career change that I found in a secondhand bookshop. I liked it because, rather than how to’s and what you should do’s, the book contained short stories about people who made a career change for the better.
Some of the stories were about people in their 40s or 50s who weren’t satisfied with their work so they resigned and decided to pursue something else. I think there was one who wanted to build a mustard museum. Some were also people in their 30s who realized they would rather manage their own business.
It was an easy read, didn’t feel preachy, and I felt inspired. I think I read it a little after I quit my first job.
Of course, I had enjoyed my job, and I made many beautiful and unforgettable memories in my first workplace, but I wanted to do something else. I wanted to spread my wings. I wanted to write.
And so I did, and the world opened up to me. I learned to do many things…and I became many things. Communications manager. Blogger. SEO writer. Fiction editor. Fiction writer. EBook cover designer.
And now I’m both a teacher and writer.
If I compare myself now to the 24-year-old me who just resigned from her first job, I would definitely say that I’ve grown. I’ve developed skills, habits, and principles that I never had, never imagined, when I was still in my early 20s.
There was something I wanted to do, to try. And I pursued it. I stumbled, I fell, and I scrambled. I made mistakes that cost me money, time, and effort. I berated myself and called myself stupid.
Not a good thing.
But I learned. I became better.
Because I acted. I pursued it.
And now I’m pursuing more.
And that’s how I found myself reading Robin Sharma’s Who Will Cry When You Die?
It was on my recommendations list (or something) and the title intrigued me because it was morbid, straight to the point, and threatening. (Thanks a lot, Mr. Sharma.)
At first, I thought it would just be your run-of-the-mill “Life is short, do what you love” spiel. Nothing wrong with that except that the message is everywhere these days, so I didn’t know if this book would be any different.
I’m sure that many people out there will say it’s nothing special. Good for you. I won’t argue with you because every message strikes us differently.
And this was the self-help book that reeled me in. I don’t even know if “self-help” is the right term. Would it be better to say “self-development” or “self-improvement”?
In any case, one of the tenets of this book is:
If you don’t act on life, life has a habit of acting on you.
It’s actually a pretty frightening thought if you think about it. Losing control of your life, just going with the flow 95 percent of the time, without a say in what happens to you….
It’s that thought that mostly keeps me up at night. That I will live my life like a robot. That I will trudge on like a drone. Obviously, there are bigger problems. Like the bills that dodge my steps and thoughts every day.
But in the long run, it’s the idea that I can’t choose that scares me most.
One of the lines in the book I can never forget is:
The days slip into weeks, the weeks slip into months, and the months slip into years. Pretty soon it’s all over, and you are left with nothing more than a heart filled with regret over a life half-lived.
I’m pretty sure not everyone is constantly worried whether they’re leaving behind the best years of their life. Many are satisfied with a job that allows them enough time, money, and energy for a hobby, a side hustle, or family bonding.
But it boils down to choice.
What’s mine? What’s yours?
If you feel like you’re not growing in your present workplace, then you need to explore. Maybe you need a new hobby. Maybe you need to join a club. You don’t have to resign immediately.
But if it’s the job that you want to change, then by all means change it. Scan the classifieds, check LinkedIn, and most importantly network. You want to run a crochet business? Find crochet entrepreneurs on social media. Trust me, they will be more than happy to share their stories, habits, and strategies.
When you’re starting out, don’t treat them like competition. They are potential mentors and friends. It won’t be easy. You might even curse it at the beginning. It’s all up to you. It’s your choice.
Bottom line is: Live. Live your life, whether it be working in an office in a metropolis or hitting the keyboard on a beach in Bali. Make it your choice.
Because if you let circumstances decide for you and you’re not happy where you are, you will only blame the world. And you will feel miserable.
Don’t live your life constantly regretting your choices. As the saying goes, “Life is short.” You have to try to live meaningfully.
It doesn’t have to be grand.
It just has to be purposeful.