For years, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Even after I bought the book, “Conquering your Quarterlife Crisis” and many years of soul searching, I still couldn’t settle on a particular path.
I eventually did have a sign that led me onto my current path, but it wasn’t as simple as it sounds.
The setting: Sunday afternoon in early February in the city of brotherly love. I was walking leisurely to my parked car when, upon arriving, I found the car to be completely destroyed.
My bumper was split into hundreds of tiny pieces, all over the street near my home. Pieces of my own car were on the street. As I saw the panels banged up on both the side and front, I wondered if the driver had been drunk.
There was no note, no security camera or witness to help reveal who had damaged my car. But when I got the shocking news that my car was totaled a few days later, that diagnosis forced me to make a pivotal decision: I could either buy a new car to get to my job that had, for the past few months, left me feeling empty inside. Or I could use the money from my insurance company to invest in my passions.
Following the car dilemma, I had a conversation at work that wasn’t in my favor. I went from being an all-star employee to being totally disengaged due to a lack of challenging work. My creative freedoms had been reduced and I quickly went from an ambitious over-achiever to simply existing in the workplace.
I knew it was time to make a change and take a risk. There would be no new car purchase in my immediate future.
It wasn’t an abrupt decision. I had previously taken a 60-hour class to learn how to run my own business. After years of building a blog that grew a strong following, hours of networking and learning, I knew that I’d never be satisfied sitting in a cubicle again… at least if I was following someone else’s orders.
Once I decided that I wouldn’t get a new car, I still had to report to work. Luckily, I had a few colleagues who commuted from my neighborhood to our job in the suburbs and they were generous enough to offer me a seat and conversation. But during that time, I also began to build my business on the side, at a faster pace than I anticipated. I continued to network feverishly and spread the word about my new business venture. I worked tirelessly during after work hours and over the weekends.
While being without a car was slightly inconvenient, I recognized the blessings. I didn’t have to waste time circling and looking for parking. I saved money on the countless errand runs I used to go on during my lunch hour. And my carpool buddies ended up being pretty rad – they were merely acquaintances when we began our commutes but transformed into friends.
After losing my car, and spending months planning an exit from my job, I’m happy to say that I gave my two weeks notice and left the corporate world behind.
I know that my journey has just begun and I recognize that I’ve traded in one or two bosses for a variety of inconsistent clients. Yet when I wake up knowing that I’m in charge, I know that I made the best decision possible for me. And while I spent years searching for my “calling”, it took an unexpected and challenging event to help me gain some perspective and go after the life I wanted.