Note: This post originally appeared on my blog on my website lifecoachvikki.com
From the outside, it looked like I had an incredible situation – I worked from home, doing work I really enjoyed, with an amazing team of smart, good people. I had a great boss, and was well compensated working for a huge, well-respected company. Sounds ideal, right?
And in many ways it was – except that it was killing me.
I had wanted that job for YEARS – I had applied twice and interviewed once (was a finalist that time, but not selected) and finally, the third time applying was the charm. I was ecstatic to FINALLY land this “dream job.”
But my body had other ideas. I could not stay well working in that role. I was sick so often it started to truly worry me – especially when I was in the emergency room on BOTH Thanksgiving and Christmas!
It would be easy to blame the job – it required long hours (literally, I would work a full day doing my job and then work several more hours at night prepping for the next day), and it was pretty stressful due to high public visibility and tight deadlines and a small team.
The final straw came when I found myself in the doctor’s office AGAIN and she told me that not only did I have a sinus infection (which was what I went in for) but also had BOTH influenza A AND influenza B – AT THE SAME TIME! I had to ask my doc what the hell was causing all of this?? She said, “Well, look at yourself – you are totally stressed out!” And then she then went on to explain the connection between stress and our immune systems.
I’ve seen this in others, too. I have a client who used to love her job. Then there was a change in leadership and her new boss has created a pretty toxic work environment. Since she started reporting to this woman, she has been ill quite often.
I have certainly seen many, many other cases of people working in high stress jobs who were sick often or had silent symptoms like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. So, yeah, I could blame it on the stress. But I knew from coach training that while stress was probably contributing to my health issues, there was likely something else going on with my body, too.
During my life coach training, our very first module was on the mind/body connection. And while I always had a hunch that there was a connection, the stuff we were learning seemed a bit out there to me. Our bodies are our compasses? Huh? Shaman sickness?? What the what?!?
But as I continued to study the mind/body (and heck, I’d even add spirit!) connection, and put into practice what I’d learned, I became a believer.
Our bodies really are our very best barometers of what is right for us and what is not good for us.
You’ve experienced this yourself, I’d bet. That sinking feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you’ve just agreed to do something you really don’t want to do. The way the hair on the back of your neck rises when you sense danger. Yeah, those are all signals from your body to pay attention.
Our bodies try to give us those subtle signs first. But when we ignore those early, gentle whispers, it starts yelling louder to get our attention.
When I sat there in the doc’s office hearing her tell me I had to cancel an important medical test I had scheduled for the next day because of the flu and sinus infections, I knew what I had to do.
You see, I KNOW that life coaching is my calling. Yet, at that time, I was putting it off for “someday.” My plan was to start my coaching biz on the side while working full time. But with the long days I had, I had no time or energy left for building my coach practice.
I knew driving home from the doc that day that there was really only one thing to do – I had to quit my job and go do what I was born to do.
But it was a terrifying thought – I was a single, midlife woman! It’s not like I had a spouse to support me while I built a business from the ground up. But I knew that day, if I didn’t make the leap, I would continue to be sick and put my very life at risk.
Within two weeks I gave notice at my job and left a few months later. The really interesting part is that I have not been sick since giving notice. Not once.
Think about your own situation. How are you feeling? Is your body giving you any signs you should be heeding? Are you doing work that you believe is your true calling? Does your work feel like it fills you up or like it drains you?
You have just this one life, and just this one body. Is it worth risking your health to chase a paycheck?
To quote the poet Mary Oliver, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Please, don’t destroy it by ignoring your calling.