Personal Development

The Dress No Longer Fit

September 7, 2021

Part of my identity was tied to my work title, so quitting my job wasn’t easy. The dress no longer fit: three lessons on making a change.

Part of my identity was tied to my work title, so quitting my job wasn't easy. The dress no longer fit: three lessons on making a change. via @moneygremlin
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The Dress No Longer Fit
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The dress no longer fit.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s here: The first Tuesday I would’ve been at work at the hospital if I hadn’t resigned.

I’m currently sitting in a sunbeam sipping freshly brewed coffee while I tap away at my keyboard….. yeah, not missing those fluorescent office lights quite yet.

This is my first post I’ve written since I announced I’d resigned ~ 2 months ago. The 4 weeks notice I initially gave stretched into almost double that while I trained my replacement, but my final day eventually arrived.

Was it surprisingly sad? Yes. Was it also surprisingly exciting? Yes.

I’ve had an insane mix of emotions and thoughts since resigning.

“WTF have I done??… Wow, I can’t wait to be gone… Will I regret this decision forever?… Ah, I’m so excited to work for myself!”

Yet there’s one thing I noticed even during my biggest moments of doubt: I wasn’t willing to reverse the decision.

Despite all my fears about moving into the unknown, I still knew that staying would be the wrong choice.

I’ve been busy working on a website for my business, but I wanted to take the time today to write out a few musings that have helped me accept my decision to resign. I received a surprising amount of feedback on my resignation post either congratulating me &/or asking how I knew (and accepted) that I needed to leave. I hope this post helps people who may be in a similar spot.

Lesson 1: You’re allowed to outgrow things.

I’ve long been a fan of Cait Flanders writing, and she had an analogy in her book Adventures in Opting Out comparing things in your life to a dress. Maybe it was inititially a dress that fit you and you enjoyed, but perhaps you’ve outgrown it. Maybe it was a dress you thought you were supposed to wear yet it’s never suited you. Perhaps the dress is a colour that’s always going to be wrong for you. Rather than trying to forever “suck it in” or wear a dress that does not suit you: Get a new dress! It’s time to change when the excitement outweighs the fear.

I think there’s a misconception that fear dissipates when something is “right”. To that I say hogwash. Fear dissipates when you actually start and see that you’re capable of doing the thing you questioned. Those 5 seconds before you jump into the cold, shocking water will always be nervewracking.

I literally threw up with fear the night before I went to Africa solo at 17, yet that trip will forever be one of the favourite moments of my life. I was terrified the night I decided I was done with an abusive relationship; again, one of the best decisions I’ve made.

To be honest I’ve been scared every single day since I left my career. However, I knew the dress no longer fit.

Fear is worth paying attention to and questioning, but it should not guide your choices. Let your decisions be made based on your dreams, not on your fears. If you’re looking at two options and can visualize the best case scenario in both, which do you truly want? For me, self employment won. So I jumped.

Lesson 2: The path won’t always make sense at first.

Another question I’ve been asked: what if you don’t want to continue what you’re currently doing, but you don’t know what you want to transition to?

My unpopular opinion is to give yourself permission to simply try things. You know what interests you; start there. Take 10 minutes out of your day and watch this Steve Jobs speech. You won’t regret it.

Follow your interests and eventually they may collide in a way you didn’t think was possible.

Steve Jobs did not know that when he dropped out of school and took a calligraphy course it would eventually make a massive difference in his company. He simply found calligraphy interesting enough to learn.

What makes you forget to check your phone? Is there something you willingly spend hours doing as a hobby? What do you read about? Which topic are you excited to talk about? Start there. Start from a point of genuine interest (not “I should”) and see where it takes you.

Lesson #3: Find a way to get paid to continue learning.

It’s been very difficult for me to walk away from healthcare. I spent a lot of time & money getting my degree, and I’ve carried dietitian as my identity since I graduated. It’s hard to not see leaving as a mistake.

However, I think there’s a better way to look at change. Instead of viewing deciding to quit as a negative or failure, try to think of life as an exciting journey in knowledge and skills acquisition.

Can you get paid to learn information or skills you’re interested in learning?

I’m happy that I became a pediatric dietititian. I have a fantastic understanding of food & nutrition now, and I know how to properly feed my own family if I should choose to have kids. That knowledge doesn’t *poof* and disappear the second I stop using it to get a paycheck.

There are also transferable skills you’ll learn with every step you take.

Being a dietitian taught my shy self how to walk into a room and be the first to speak. It taught me how to take charge and make recommendations. I was the expert in the room.

Blogging has taught me how to start a website, to emotionally “put myself out there” publicly, and to have patience when my pursuits take awhile to grow.

All of the things I have done leading up to the decision to resign weren’t wasted time; they were building blocks.

Changing careers isn’t a negative; it’s an exciting collision of skills & knowledge I’ve acquired carrying me in a different direction. I got paid to learn things these past few years that I wanted to learn. That doesn’t mean I need to CONTINUE doing them however.

I have a quote on my desk that says “Give yourself permission to have the ambitions that you have” [Brendon Burchard]. When I first read it I loved it enough to frame it. Now I feel I’ve given myself permission to try to live it.

Go find “the dress” that suits you. Don’t settle, and don’t be scared to change your mind.

Part of my identity was tied to my work title, so quitting my job wasn't easy. The dress no longer fit: three lessons on making a change. via @moneygremlin
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  1. Ellbee says:

    I like the new layout!

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