This story is designed to inspire & give courage to anyone who is on the verge, and feeling called, to quit their job in order to pursue something more meaningful. This is part of the Taking the Leap resource, a database full of real-life stories from people who have successfully gone from job dissatisfaction to career emancipation. These stories include the truth about what it’s like & what it takes to make the leap — so you can figure out for yourself whether taking the leap is right for you.
I have always been an “idea” person and bit of a Renaissance Soul.
I’d get interested in something, do it, and then after some while, get bored and want to move on to the next thing.
I also don’t like to conform to rules and policies I don’t really get. I mean, for things that are important such as avoiding jail, getting my car towed, keeping my therapy license, or getting ejected from a really cool concert, than yea, I will follow the rules. For other things, not so much.
I lasted 8 years in the teaching profession. Within those 8 years I went from elementary, to middle, to high school, from private to public school, teaching general subject areas to computer science and then managing a computer lab. Even within the educational sector, I did a lot of movement hoping to fit in, to be content, to keep that job security and retirement that everyone was talking about.
I hated being told I had to teach remedial reading so students could pass the state test. I hated that my pee breaks were timed by bells ringing in 50 minute increments. I hated that I was confined to a single room all day.
My gut told me that I needed to work for myself, so I moved, left teaching, and then started to dabble in freelance web design. My business failed, went nowhere, basically because I didn’t really care about it. I just happened to be good at web design. At 30, I had no idea what I wanted to do, and felt stupid because I couldn’t find my “passion”.
In 2004 I got some career counseling, decided to go into the psychology field, and started my masters degree in mental health counseling. I worked at an assisted living facility for a year, in a high school as a counselor for 2 years, and then for a community mental health agency for 3 years. I eventually got tired of schlepping all over town for little pay, watching the foster kids I was working with regress over and over after moving from temporary home to home, and following insurance guidelines that had me doing a whole lot of paperwork for no financial reimbursement.
In 2010 something exciting came along. The husband and I were both in a rut, so we decided to seek out an adventure. We ended up working in rural Alaska, in a native Eskimo village of about 900 residents. He was the principal of the school, me the school counselor. This was the best paid gig I had ever had! Granted, we were in the middle of the frozen tundra, a gallon of milk cost $8, and you got dropped off in a tiny bush plane where most people never go. But I finally felt like I was getting paid what I was worth.
But after 3 years, the adventure wore off. Once dropped off in the village there was really no place to go. No restaurants, no theaters, no roads to even go exploring. And it was too damn cold to just go outside and take a walk. We already spent most of our long weekends traveling as much as we could to see the other more touristy parts of Alaska. Plus, I still worked in a school that came with school politics. As the counselor, I spent most of my time managing student schedules, counting test materials, and administering state tests which made me want to claw my eyeballs out.
Eventually, the best job I ever had financially didn’t seem so exciting anymore. When I told the husband I wanted to go into business for myself again, he cringed. We had finally started paying off bills and student loans. We were in the best financial shape ever! We had the best insurance, ever!
But something unexpected happened during my time in Alaska, something that I honestly wouldn’t trade for anything.
Working in the middle of nowhere and seeing the struggles of the native communities (alcoholism, poverty, domestic violence, loss of culture) changed me. I think experiences like these change most people. You realize what is important, what isn’t. You realize you don’t NEED that 3500 square foot home anymore, and are extremely grateful for the simple pleasures in life such as running water.
During my time in Alaska I also evolved into a more spiritual person. It began as a journey to heal myself from a physical health issue by ditching the pills and using diet and lifestyle changes instead. However, I soon discovered that working on my physical health was just a springboard to also overhauling my emotional and spiritual health. I became excited about holistic healing modalities and wanted to teach the world what I learned.
I finally found the missing piece in my counseling practice.
Upon our return to Florida, I was not going back to traditional therapy. I was not going to work for an agency that dictated insurance and treatment options. I was not going to work with insurance companies who also dictated how I worked with people. I was going to be my own boss, accept clients under my terms, and be a cash only operation. My gut had been telling me this for YEARS.
I left the safety and security of a “job” and took the leap. It wasn’t easy, and still isn’t. I am stressed many days, feel incredibly guilty for not being an equal earner in our home after ditching a great paying gig, and every so often on a particularly bad day, question why I am doing what I am doing. But deep down, I know that I am exactly where I need to be.
I now use holistic treatment modalities to help people overcome trauma, anxiety, stress, and overwhelm. I help people make the connection between their emotional health and aches, pains, and illness in their physical body. I use all the things I learned about nutrition and emotional energy during my own journey to healing, and educate my clients.
I am no where near making the money I once did working in Alaska. Some months are decent income months, other months not so much. But I know that I am supposed to be doing what I am doing. I feel blessed to have the emotional and financial support of a husband who is willing to make sacrifices so I can pursue my dream. And I know that the potential to grow larger than my “best paying job ever” is just around the corner.
If you’re on the verge of taking the leap to quit your job, but aren’t quite sure you have what it takes, I invite you to check out more of these inspiring stories by going to the Taking the Leap resource, where you will have access to some other stories just like this one.