I haven’t always been a kickass blogger and personal development crusader.
Well, I’ve always been kickass, though I haven’t always believed it (OK, some days I still don’t believe it, but I’m having a good time anyway).
After a Degree, a Masters, and a year of working and travelling, I spent 14 years in business, as a psychologist and business consultant. I was successful, and worked with some amazing clients, including Vodafone, the John Lewis Partnership, Barclays Bank, Marks and Spencer and Diageo among others.
So how did I transition from that corporate world to being a permanent global traveller and heroine of my own adventure story?
Settle down, and let me tell you a story…
A DISTURBING REALISATION
In 2012, vying for the next promotion opportunity in the consultancy where I worked, I had a revelation.
I didn’t want it.
I’d been working in my industry for 12 years, and for nearly 10 with my current company.
I loved my job, the people, my work – but it didn’t love me.
It was heartbreaking. Everything I had been working for, suddenly didn’t feel like something I actually wanted.
But it didn’t come out of nowhere. Not really.
I had some health issues, chronic ones.
On the way to delivering my first training course for the company I worked for at the time, ten years before, I’d had a car accident. A lorry had pulled into my lane on the motorway and smashed into my car. I’d been lucky – very lucky – and had come away with just some mild whiplash.
But a few weeks later, months later, the whiplash hadn’t gone. I had a ‘difficult’ right shoulder, where the pain would flare up every now and then. I couldn’t seem to get rid of it for good. And as time passed, the periods in between flare ups got shorter and shorter, until eventually, after a few years, the pain was constant.
And worse, it started to spread. When I started to have pain in my right hand and forearm, I was distressed, but it seemed logical. But when the pain seeped into my hip, and my lower leg and foot, I thought at first I must be imagining it. But no, it turns out, chronic pain is insidious, and can ‘spread’.
After a few years of this, and every kind of Consultant, physiotherapist, osteopath and masseur and more, and treatment that ranged from injections of botox into the shoulder (which had some really nasty side effects) to pills, pills, and more pills, I was diagnosed with chronic pain. The kind that you ‘manage’ rather than ‘cure’.
That was a bit of a low point.
For the next few years I struggled with balancing a successful career as a psychologist and management consultant – promotions, key clients, ground-breaking projects – with the pain.
ADDING INSULT TO INJURY
(Well, actually, illness to injury, but we won’t quibble).
And then about 4 years ago, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Luckily, I don’t have it to an incapacitating degree, and we fixed the ulcers it had caused at the time, but then I was managing two chronic conditions.
It was tiring, and not much fun. Mostly, my life consisted of working 10, 12, 14 hour days, and pain-management related activities.
And then another promotion opportunity came up. A big one. A title I had wanted for years. Another step on the road to success.
I had booked a little cottage away in the English countryside around the same time, and in that cottage I had what, to me, was a terrible realisation.
The idea of the promotion brought me no joy. No excitement. All I felt was resignation and exhaustion.
What was the point of a successful career if I had no life?
Why was I expending so much effort on my work at the expense of my friends, family, and relationships?
How had my identity narrowed down to work and pain?
So instead of going for the promotion, I resigned from my job, and decided to go travelling for a few months. My only criteria were that the place was warm, cheap, and far away from my current life. A friend was living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and it seemed as good a place as any, so I headed there.
After three months there, I realised it wasn’t enough. So I extended my trip a few months and looked for some work opportunities in SE Asia. I was lucky enough to be able to draw on my networks, and was able to do enough work to keep me financially stable. A few more months, and I extended my trip again. And finally, after a year here, I went back to the UK and sold my car, put my possessions in storage and rented out my flat, and gave myself the freedom to stay and develop a different kind of life.
A life that has me at the centre. Where I can explore who I am, what I am, and what brings me joy.
A life that has involved fun, friends, travel, yoga school, learning to drive a scooter, and work in China, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand, France, the UK and many more countries.
A life that has enabled me to design two blogs, which in turn led to the creation of this blog, where I share with you my experience both professionally and personally. Where I share stories and connect my heart and brain in a way I haven’t been able to do in business before.
In the last few years, people have called me inspiring, stepping out into the abyss without a safety net.
I know I’m as scared as the next person (sometimes more).
But my philosophy is to understand what is really important, create a life around those values, and then start putting one foot in front of the other to get there.
If you would like to make the journey with me, you can join me by popping your email in the pink box. I’d love to have your company.