For a few days this week temptation had me firmly in its grip. It tapped into my human nature to feel wanted and seduced me with the illusion of my own importance. Luckily common sense prevailed in the end.
And the temptation…..? Forfeiting my peaceful existence to once again pursue a full-time career opportunity. At first I was wooed by the flattery of being seen as the expert they needed, not to mention a very handsome salary. I fantasized about what I would be able to do with the extra money until the reality hit home. The financial benefits would come with a high volume of time commitments and personal sacrifices.
I visualized a set of scales with on one side the extra income and status and on the other the freedom and control of my workload that I have enjoyed over the last three years. An image of basking in the sun on the balcony of our house in South of France, enjoying a long leisurely lunch with my husband and our Cocker Spaniel as opposed to being locked in front of a computer screen working on the next research paper, came to mind. I realised there was no contest.
No doubt those of you in employment would probably struggle to understand my dilemma. However, I made the decision three years ago to step off the treadmill and take semi-retirement, working for myself.
Why would I go back to the stress of churning out journal articles, trying to please egotistical reviewers who take sadistical pleasure in their power to reject your hard work just because they can? Then there are the endless and pointless meetings, being frustrated with the higher educational system and single handedly trying to bring about change.
Instead, I now choose what I want to get involved with, the people I want to work with, I choose what I write and where and when it is published. Above all, I have the time to devote to my clients and the intrinsic rewards it brings. It was a valuable lesson in reminding me of my priorities in life.
I would often work with my clients to support them in establishing what their priorities were and the boundaries they needed to create in order to protect those priorities. I had to do some self-coaching this week to answer the very same questions for myself. Priorities naturally emerge once we are clear about what our values are versus the values we allow others to impose on us.
I was fully aware of the price I would exact on my health, should I succumb to the temptation. One of the reasons I took a step back three years ago was the result of severe repetitive strain injury I developed following the years hunched over computers. Anyone suffering from the same would know the pain you are in during every waking hour. I learnt to live with it until the level of pain forced me to choose a different lifestyle. Better health therefore became a top priority for me.
I also had more time to enjoy what I love doing most, namely working as a 1:1 coach and the privilege of spending time with fascinating people. My husband and I have had the time to indulge in travelling, enjoying walks in the countryside and making precious memories with family and friends. Did I miss the salary? Not as much as I thought I would. Instead, I have lived a different lifestyle with different needs and the rewards were worth every minute of giving up the high salary.
In celebration of my decision, Scampy my elderly Spaniel and I went for a long walk on the golden beaches opposite my house, enjoying blue skies and mild weather. I would not have had the memories of our walk if I were yet again a slave to a salary. It affirmed that I had made the right choice.