It’s been 10 months since I launched the overhaul of my life. No, that upheaval was not a haircut (yet). In fact, a haircut would have been quite minor compared to the upheaval to which I subjected myself. Rather than going for an a la carte menu item, I opted for the full, five-course dinner of change. It included work, relationships, priorities, philosophy of life, location.
I’d spent a decade in newspaper journalism, a career that came so naturally to me, I didn’t even realize I had chosen a career. I got paid to talk to people, research and write about it all. Even the writing style suited me — get to the point and move on, rather than fussing with those “rough draft” things. (True story: As far back as elementary school, when we had to turn in both rough and final drafts, I had to go back and create a rough draft after the fact.)
Last year, after a lot of unrest, I quit my job. I went on a road trip, and then I sat down to search for a new career. A lot of amazing people began giving me tips on possible job leads. One of them was at an Internet journalism conglomerate, and I could have been employed immediately. Since I’d been making so little money previously, this would have been a slight step up the pay scale. But I knew I wouldn’t be happy.
I was right. If I’d taken that gig, here’s where I would be now: back at the starting point, writing a piece about “AOL Hell.”
Instead, I refused to settle. I refused to go back down the path that had led me to the breaking point last August. That “AOL Hell” article was published two weeks ago, when I was in the middle of a trip to Alaska — an amazing, fun trip that in all likelihood would not have been possible if I’d taken the AOL reporting gig.
Since I began redefining my life 10 months ago, I’ve never once had any regrets. Life is too short for you to be miserable; if you’re not happy, start making changes. But don’t do it simply by shifting from standing on one foot to the other, as I would have done if I’d taken the AOL gig. Take a step forward. Then, when you realize that you’re still standing, take another step.
And then take a flying leap with both feet. You’ll land with your head up.