Is that what you want from life? To quit working for someone else, create the life of your dreams and change the world? Lots of us want this dream. Holding onto a dream of how you want your life to be is great, but after a while, when it has been there for so long and your actual life is so different to this dream, you start to question why you are here and what it’s all about right? Maybe you feel like the dream is just that, a dream, and the mundane roundabout of going to work for someone else in a job you feel just “meh” about, clocking in and out, wishing you were somewhere else, even experiencing anxiety or depression about your life because of it, is your destiny now.
I am going to share a story with you about how I did quit my job, changed the world, and created the life of my dreams – often in my pyjamas!
How I Quit My Job and Changed The World
When I was a little girl all my dreams about work were about helping people, teaching people and writing. I was fixed on becoming a journalist, only that didn’t happen for me. I grew up with bohemian parents who were teachers and who instilled a love of words into my heart. When I didn’t make it into journalism I took the next option and became a social worker, the ultimate helping people job. After 4 years of study I got my first position with a child welfare organisation. At first I thought I would change the world here. I thought this was it, my destiny to help families and change the world. But after a few years of working with broken families and broken babies and a broken system – I wound up with a broken heart. Then things got really bad.
I started to worry when I was having a shower that the terrible awful man I was dealing with at the time would knock on the door and my 2 year old son would answer and he would kidnap him. I started to have unexplained “illnesses”. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 12 years old and this had already affected my life deeply, but now it became harder to control due to stress. I couldn’t go out anymore, I went to work and said I was going to see clients but secretly went shopping or drove down to the beach. I felt like there was a physical barrier between me and my workplace as I drove to work every day, and I had to fight myself to go through it. I experienced my first panic attacks (gosh don’t THEY suck). I locked all the doors and kept checking them as I drove into the area where he lived. I felt disconnected from everyone I loved. I was terrified and alone and deeply depressed, and one day I wound up in the ladies toilets in the corner of a cubicle in the fetal position at work and could not come out anymore. Then they knew something was up. Turns out it was post traumatic stress from a terrible incident with this man, which led to major depression, generalised anxiety and panic attacks.
But from here it got better. It’s like when you hit rock bottom it is actually a pretty nice place to be as there is nowhere else you can go but up. I started to get some help, I had time out from work, the anxiety and panic got worse for a time, but then it all started to get a little better and I went back to work in a different area – a desk job. The problem now was being seen as damaged goods. I was shunted around from project to project and seen as less capable because I had suffered with mental illness. I was bored, lost, left out. I felt like I would never be able to help people now because I could not even help myself. I was full of self doubt and guilt. I was back at work, but nothing much changed. I still went to work and said I was going out to lunch and spent 3 hours at the mall shopping because I was so bloody bored! I was on easy street, they were paying me my wage for the rest of my life if I wanted, as a work cover case. Yet I was trying to fill myself up with something, looking for a way to find my dreams again, to help people and change the world, to feel valid, only shopping for shoes wasn’t really doing that.
Then a funny thing happened, well two things actually:
- The Internet
- I started to look for help around how I felt about my life with diabetes – which is no picnic and had taken a beating with my mental illness and I couldn’t find the help I needed
I started to think there was more to life, remembered my dreams, my desire to change the world, and I started to wonder if the internet could be a way to do this. I wanted to help other people with diabetes, to create something that did not exist at the time. I researched online counselling but nobody in Australia was really doing this. I would go to work and spend my time looking at who was who in the diabetes field and where the gaps were. I looked at the smattering of online support groups and blogs, I chatted with my family about these ideas. And then one day my mum said “why don’t you have a website?”. And that is exactly what I did.
I took a leap of faith, quit my job and started a website – Diabetes Counselling Online. My lovely brother in law built the original site for me from the ground up – there was no wordpress back then, and no social media, so I created my own versions with forums and email buddies. After 2 years I started to get some small government grants and became a charity, and 15 years later, this little idea is now a thriving diabetes support service and online support group for people with diabetes all over the world, with the support of family and some fabulous volunteers. We have now raised more than $2,000,000 for this organisation over the 15 years I have been operating it. I have written and published a children’s picture book, e books and mobile apps, and won numerous awards for my work. We now have volunteers who support people around all the aspects of their diabetes, and with depression rates double in the diabetes community we remain a very unique service. I have been invited speaker many times, I am part way through my PhD and have helped literally thousands of people. I quit my job, I am living my dream of helping people and I changed the world.
When I left my job to change the world, part of the aim was to create my dream life. I wanted to have more children and the idea of work freedom through the internet was part of this dream. I was able to have my second baby and never put him in before of after school care. I was able to spend holidays with the kids, be flexible in when and where I worked, and make a good living. I could work on holidays and work from the road. There were lean times without funding and I did 1-1 counselling and other work to supplement my income but never took another full time job again. It was never about money for me, as long as I had enough.
After a while the whole diabetes charity thing started to become tireseome. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved helping people but I needed something other than diabetes. You have to remember I live with it, I was studying it and working in it. I was also managing a $1.2 million grant, a charity, a team, and all the stress of running a major government funded project, so in 2012 I decided to start another blog – just because I wasn’t busy enough! Recycled Interiors was that blog.
The aim of this blog was also to help people and change the world, to make a change in the way people live to a more sustainable world, and to help people live happier healthier lives. This grew surprisingly quickly, more than I could have imagined, and just over 2 years later I have a thriving community of readers visiting the blog and following my journey across social media, and am a Bloggerati with Nuffnang, Australia’s biggest blogging talent agency, getting paid to write. I am also running an online homewares store, a social media, blogging and business consulting practice, have published e books, run workshops and am putting my first e course together. I have just been chosen as a state finalist in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards for my work in the past 15 years which is very exciting. And my original dream of being a journalist is now a reality and I am helping people every day.
I have created the life of my dreams.
I have now had a third child who is 7 years old. He has never been to before or after school care or holiday care and I can go to his school assembly when he is presenting. He has special needs and it is reassuring to know I can be here for him. Three times a week we walk to school together and I continue on my exercise walk before I start work, while I watch other parents rush off to their 9 am office job. Some days I work in my trackies or my pyjamas. Other days I am flying all over Australia to attend blogging events and meetings, or run workshops.
Now I am not telling you all of this to show off, but because I believe YOU should also take life by the horns and live the life YOU dream. What are your dreams? Speaking them out loud is the first step to making them real. If you also want to quit your job, create the life you dream and change the world, but need to take the leap, then why not go for it?
If I could quit my job when I was a total mess, having been through a major breakdown, living with depression and anxiety and panic attacks, dealing with the complexity and daily juggling act of type 1 diabetes, and caring for kids – and create a successful life now for over 15 years – YOU CAN TOO.
You can do it. I believe in you.
I am not telling you it is easy. It is not! I have had many times where I nearly fell at the first hurdle. Days where I wanted to quit and wondered what the hell I was doing. Times where the bank balance was going backwards faster than we could manage and I was out of my mind with worry. I have been in tears over the stress of running my own business, out of my depth, overwhelmed, confused. But I stuck at it. I kept hold of those dreams to help people and change the world, and in the process I created the life of my dreams. And what helped me stick at it? You. Every time one person with diabetes wrote to me to say how much I had helped them, what a difference it had made to their lives to know they were not alone. Every time one of you tells me how much you enjoy my writing, or how something I said made all the difference to a bad day. This is what matters and what holds you to your dreams.
The first step? Just get started.
Stop reading this post, or surfing around the internet, or checking facebook and get started.
Write your dreams here, right here in the comments box – shout them out to the world. Don’t ever stop believing in yourself, avoid the ones who tell you your dreams are crazy, surround yourself with like minded souls and remember why you are doing this – because you want to help people and change the world. Be brave, take chances, stay mindful and don’t look back. Learn what you need to, find the right people and work hard. Get enough rest and exercise, eat well and harness your support team. Be creative and use all the tools now available to you in this crazy wonderful world.
Then start planning how you can achieve this – because if there is one thing I have learned it is that nobody looks back on their death bed and regrets the chances they took, but they sure as hell regret the ones they didn’t.