There are some decisions in life that are easy to make and others that present a difficult choice. Having said that there are also decisions that should be easy, yet prove to be the hardest!
Over the last few weeks I’ve experienced the latter as weighed up the pros and cons of staying at my new job, versus the pros and cons of working for myself again. There were good reasons to stay, but more recently a few more for buggering off! In the end it came down to a few simple questions around health that pushed my decision.
The first was simple, “Can you continue as things are and manage the stress involved?” However my answer to this was not straight forward. I felt I could manage the stress by focusing on what I could do, i.e become more organised, be proactive, meditate/use mental health tools. I saw the stress as a personal challenge to overcome by improving myself. Perhaps normally this would be fine if you experienced stress or a sense of work overload in regular manageable doses, that gradually increased over a period of time. However the work I’ve been doing has felt like being stuck in a hail storm in a field, no matter where you run, you can’t help but be hit. In fact it felt so overwhelming that I would still be thinking about work when I wasn’t working, my brain using the spare time to process a lot of work information. A defining moment came when I lay in bed at night with Catherine’s head on my chest. Listening to my heart beat she asked if I was ok because my heart was racing.
So to return the question in hand I thought I could handle the stress and that was why I continued along working, as a matter of pride I wanted to see it through. But would my brain accept that? Hell no! It threw up a lot of other questions and doubt. Not so much self doubt, it was actually more useful doubt about the job (finally the brain is helping!) This all led to another question, “Can you do anything about the source of the stress?” Well in essence the sources of the stress were multiple people, an undefined job role, a lack of communication between “teams” (I use this term sarcastically) and a lack of structure. So a short answer would be NO! For these elements to change would require the senior management to overhaul the business, it would not be something that one person could do alone. I AM NOT JESUS.
Finally the age old question that my brain asks me whenever I am in doubt (or just generally for laughs) came up. “Are you following your goal of helping others?” To be fair I was helping others, but perhaps not in the environment saving, famine breaking, whale rescuing montage my brain likes to play on loop when I have a free moment. If everything else is ok and this is the only question that arises then I am able to work for two straight years (as evidenced with my time at Apple). However the combination of these three questions was a bridge too far for my simple mind and so I reluctantly (still after all this evidence!) resigned a couple of weeks ago.
So what next sailor?
Well in the time old fashion of Tom leaving one job and moving onto a new chapter (this is Chapter 508) I am returning to what I know best. That’s right I’ll be a house husband from December.
Ha! Only joking (or am I?) I’ll be fitness training and running my handyman business, whilst also writing more regularly and getting back to my mental health podcast. Ok so maybe the first two are actually the work, but the latter two are the things I want to develop in order to help others. I will now have time to promote my book (available via this website and the Apple Bookstore) and get into the podcast and making something more of it. Those four things genuinely excite me and that is something that I’ve missed.
I’ll be honest with you I’ve had some bad days of late. Not as bad as the old bad days (I’ve tempered their ferocity), but times when my brain has gone back to saying “what’s the point?” The ensuing sadness and hopelessness is generally short lived as I force myself to think about my writing, my talking and the work I’ve yet to do for others. That keeps me alive in more ways than one, it’s my raison d’être.
So as I sign off and head for some dinner let me ask “what is your reason to be?” Answers on an electronic postcard to firstname.lastname@example.org. The first person to respond gets a signed* copy of my new book The Noisy Mind (available on this website and Apple Bookstore if you didn’t know Madam).
Keep on keeping on,
*As my book is an ebook the signing bit could be a little difficult. So perhaps I’ll handwrite the winner a note.