One Year Later: 5 Most Important Lessons Learned From Shifting My Life and Career

Heather Hardin, July 2019. One Year After Changing Her Life

It was exactly one year ago, that I boldly followed my heart. My soul was screaming for me to make drastic changes in my life. Enveloped in stress and shame, I realized that I was not living a life aligned with my spirit and purpose. No matter how successful I was at work, I still felt empty. My health was failing. My nights were spent anxiously staring at the ceiling. My relationships were suffering. And more importantly, I felt empty, unhappy, and unfulfilled.

After wrestling with the devil and angel on my shoulders and draining my husband with endless late-night discussions on the topic, I made the courageous decision to resign from my upper-level, successful job to find more joy, peace, and purpose in my life. Let me jump to the end of the story for you. This was the best decision I have ever made in my life (well, second to marrying the most dashing and intelligent man on the planet, of course). Today I want to share the 5 most important lessons that I learned during my life shift. I pray that these bits of wisdom might provide insight into finding more purpose and joy in your own life.

  1. God, the Universe, Life…Everything is working FOR you, not against you. It can be easy to get distracted by all of the negativity around you. You can get consumed by your perceived failures and struggles. But life is full of blessings. You need only adjust and open your perspective. What are these experiences teaching you? What is this struggle opening the door to; how is it making space for your next opportunity? Perhaps you could never find that new perfect job if you didn’t realize your unhappiness with the current one. Life is full of amazing experiences, some tragic and some exhilarating. Blessings and lessons abound in all that you experience. The current moment is the result of your past steps. Your future lies before you as a clean slate to write as you wish. Choose to trust in the flow of the universe. Trust in God’s wisdom. All is moving forward for your own good. Believe in yourself. Believe in the blessings of your life.
  2. Find Your Center. What does that even mean? It means taking time to find out who you are; who you truly are. For this, you have to be still and learn about yourself. We often spend our time “doing” for our career, for our family, for others. We can easily lose sight of ourselves. When you take time to get to know your true Self better, you learn more about what you truly enjoy, what you value, and what you truly want out of life. Find time to break away from your usual routine. Take a walk at lunchtime or after work. Sit by the ocean or a pond. Sit on a bench in the park. Find a simple, relaxing place to be still. Calm your mind (easier said than done, but with continued practice, you’ll be an expert). Try to view your surroundings as if you were a child experiencing them for the first time. Notice the details: the leaves on the trees, the birds’ songs, the wind, the sky. Take a deep breath in, and start to connect with the soul within you. You are a spiritual being having a human experience. No one else is experiencing what you are at this very moment. No one else can, because you are the only amazing you there is. What a blessing to finally grasp the unique person that you are, and then live your life celebrating your experiences with all of the other fellow souls trying to find their way home.
  3. Relish the special person that you are! Stop trying to fit into some mold that you created in your mind. Perhaps it’s who your parents expect you to be. Perhaps it’s some dramatization that you believe society expects you to be. Perhaps it’s some idealized personal expectation that you created for yourself based on a lifetime of trial and error. Listen to these next few words like your life depends on it: Be Honest with Yourself! If you are unhappy, then take a look at your life and be honest about what you want to change. Don’t hold onto goals, jobs, or relationship choices because you think you “should” be happy with them. If you are not happy, then accept that, and then do something about it. If you continue to live a lie to make someone else proud, you will be doomed to a life of unhappiness, stress, and disappointment. Who YOU are is way more important than what people EXPECT you to be. Once you connect with the amazing person that you are and follow your own personal passions, your life will begin to flow along a pathway filled with the most gratifying and joy-filled experiences. Work will become less “work,” and relationships will flourish in a way that seems effortless and light.
  4. You Are Worth It. Having a servant attitude helps us live in sacrifice to others. You are likely very thankful that you have a job and life roles that benefit the ones you love. We appreciate our opportunities to serve others and are proud knowing that what we do benefits those around us. Yet, we lose ourselves in these roles so much so that we are left feeling unworthy ourselves. “Oh no, not me. Happiness is for someone else. I mean really, who is ever truly happy?” In order to serve others, you must find time to fill your own cup. We can serve others so much better when we serve from a place of fulfillment. Again, I implore you to lean into these words: You deserve to be happy. You deserve to live the life of your dreams. You deserve to be respected. You deserve to laugh, love, and find peace. You are worth it!!!
  5. You Can Do it. Nothing is impossible. It may seem that way, but I am here to inform you that it CAN be done. How easily you can talk yourself out of something. Let’s see; what are all of those reasons? Oh yea, you’re not strong enough. You’re not smart enough. You’re not _____enough (fill in the blank). Oh and then there is this… “I can’t because_____.” “Maybe when (this happens) I will do it.” Remember Jesus’ words, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid? (Matthew 8:26 NIV)” Why do you hesitate when you feel it in your soul. If it makes sense to you, and if it feels “right,” then go for it. How fulfilling life will be to create a path that is meant for you. It is right there waiting for you to decide to take the next step. You know what you should do. Now be courageous enough to trust in yourself and take that first step. Remember, life is there waiting to play out for your good. What are you waiting for??

You Are Enough!

We all strive to be our best. We try to eat right.  We try to be active. We try to take time for ourselves. All while also trying to be our best for those we serve; our work teams, our boyfriend/girlfriend, our spouse, our children, our parents, our friends, our pets. It can be overwhelming. We can often put too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect. We set expectations that are almost impossible to achieve.  We can begin to believe that we will never be able to earn our “halo.”

Listen to me: You don’t earn your halo.  You have always had one, and believe it or not, it is still there; bright and shiny.  You are perfect just as you are, just as God created you.  You are enough!  Let me say that again.  You are enough!!  Within you is all of the “specialness” that is YOU.  The world has been waiting for you to come along and share yourself with us.  And everything that you are IS ENOUGH! You were “fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful” (Psalm 139:14).

You may say to me, “but I don’t necessarily like who I am right now; I know I can be better.”  Awesome!!  You have goals; you want to be better than yesterday.  You may not be able to achieve all that you want at this moment, but you are trying, and that is what is most important.  The great news is that today is a new day, and with each day we get to try again.  And be honest with yourself; each day is full of successes.  Did you wake up today?  Did you smile at someone today? Did you pack your kids lunch? Did you let someone in front of you in traffic? Did you take the stairs today? How far did you walk from the car to the office?  Are there veggies in your lunch today? Do you have a bottle of water with you right now?  Look at that; you are doing great!  You should celebrate and take a few extra minutes to sit quietly and be thankful for all that you are and all that you were able to achieve today.  You ROCK! Tomorrow you are going to start there and achieve a little bit more.  You got this!

I implore you to start today with a deep breath and a smile; don’t just jump out of bed and hit the ground running.  Center yourself first.  Even a sprinter before a race, will breathe deeply, stretch a little, and mentally visualize running and winning the race.  You deserve the same as you start your journey today.  You are so very strong.  You are brilliantly smart in all things “you.”  No one completes all the wonderful things that you will today like you will.  Actually no one could be a better you, than “you.”  That is your stabilizing constant success; being you.

Life may seem like it is more than you can handle or want to handle.  It may seem overwhelming.  Most of us have more on our plate than we will be able to complete today.  Society seems to place great worth on how much you can achieve.  Society encourages us to believe that achieving more will make those around us happier with us or more accepted.  The bigger tragedy is that we may even internalize this concept over the years, and now believe within ourselves that we must achieve more in order to be proud of ourselves. I mean, look around you at all that everyone else is achieving; you don’t want to fall behind.  STOP IT!

You have lots of responsibilities today and guess what?  You will likely knock most of them out of the park.  Really, you will.  Think of all the things you will accomplish.  You are driven and motivated.  You will not let something slide.  You will do all you can to follow through on your commitments.  You may not be able to accomplish everything, but what you do, you will do to your best at the moment.  And like a small stone in a pond, your actions will slowly start to affect the world around you. The world needs you.  You have a purpose.  We all do.  Most of us are still trying to figure out what it is.  I believe that ultimately our purpose is to share ourselves with the world, our true selves.  Purpose is revealed in even the smallest act you make.  Maybe you don’t complete that project today.  Maybe you don’t finish that manuscript.  Maybe you lose that account that you have been working so hard to get.  But in the journey lies your purpose.

Don’t forget to reward yourself for the small things.  Merely waking up today, showing up today, being “you,” is exactly what the world needed.  And let me say for all of those that you touch today, THANK YOU!  We all appreciate what you do today.  We may not show it.  In fact, sometimes we are struggling in our own path and find it hard to show gratitude to others, but you know what?  Just you walking with us at that moment, helps us, even if we can’t find the energy to show you.

So take that breath, smile, stretch, visualize you running the race of today, and pat yourself on the back.  You will be able to walk your path today like only you can do.  You will rock this!