Last Fall, I made a decision that most people will agonize about.

It’s a decision that people face every day, but for some reason they often find it extremely difficult to follow through with it. More often than not, they’ll usually make an even more difficult decision by choosing not to do anything at all.

And I was there once.

Back when I was in nursing school, working in critical care had always been one of my goals. And in my nursing career, I finally got the opportunity to work in a busy trauma/emergency department.

I loved the thought of not knowing what was coming through the door. That kept me excited about the possibilities in nursing and also kept me on my toes, and I thought I would never get bored and that the environment would always be welcoming.

Also, as in any profession, I’m a firm believer that you’ll learn something new each day. So I appreciated the learning curve that came along with the fast-paced environment.

I was working per diem in the emergency department, which required just 4 shifts in a 6-week period. And although I was only required to work very few shifts, I found myself working a full-time schedule in the very beginning to make the most of that learning opportunity.

And I was really enjoying my work!

photo 2 (2)But then things began to change.

I began to feel exhausted…

I was working way too much at the hospital, and I was also working on-call shifts as a Forensic Nurse Examiner, a position which I truly loved where I cared for patients after sexual assault and intimate partner violence. Essentially, I was working a full-time (plus) schedule despite being on-call and per diem in both positions.

Then, the requirements for my per diem position in the department changed.

The requirement went from 4 shifts to 6 shifts every 6 weeks and I no longer had a choice in which shift I could work. And yes I know… this schedule change may seem like a cake walk to most who read this.

But for me, it really was the beginning of a change of how I had chosen to live my life. And, at that particular time, I had not worked a night shift in approximately a year and a half, making me give up what I had worked so hard to find… working how I wanted, on my schedule, on my terms.

That became the non-negotiable!

Around the same time, I was in the middle of starting my own business which I’ve now rebranded as RN Getaways.

On a few international trips, I had found a new love of travel, and RN Getaways would give me that opportunity to travel with other nurses for fun, not just for work as in a previous travel assignment.

With this new opportunity to start my own business, I began to get excited again, but at the same time, my new requirements at work began to put my dreams on hold. And somehow, my dreams were becoming stifled day by day.

So… I began to resent work.

I began to work harder at switching my evening and night shifts with those who now had the new opportunity to work my coveted day shifts. And that was a job within itself!

My life began to revolve around my work schedule again, instead of the other way around. My schedule and my time were no longer my own.

And, I felt as if I was going backwards… instead of forward in starting a business I was truly beginning to love.

So, a day came in October 2014 when I found myself in my manager’s office. I told her the truth after hiding from the exhaustion and disenchantment for so long.  It was then that I decided I must follow my dream of really moving forward with my plans of starting a business. Plus, there was an opportunity to attend a conference for nurses in business that I had just come across and really wanted to attend.

But, of course, I was scheduled to work.

I was at a crossroads.

I could either keep going in my current position at the hospital, dreaming of where I should spend my time or make the leap and take the risk to do what I was really drawn to do in my heart.

I was a bit fearful of the decision that I had to make. Not because I was afraid to actually quit my job, but because I was afraid to “quit” others and was concerned about what they would think of me.

But then reality hit… My life was not about living it the way others wanted me to. It was about living how I wanted.

So, I decided on me.

I decided to face my fear of disappointing others, and made a decision to support myself and my needs.

I spoke to my manager despite feeling truly horrible about my decision of disappointing her and the department, gave her an official notice, and then left her office.

After leaving, I felt so free! And for some reason the sun shined a little brighter, the birds chirped a little bit sweeter, and the ride home was much better! 

Okay… that may be pushing it a bit… But honestly, despite the guaranteed pay check and increasing opportunity to earn more money because of the slim staffing, I felt free.

And it was the best decision for me.

And, in making that decision, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve learned some valuable lessons from the experience that will carry me over into the future.

5 Lessons I’ve Learned from Quitting My Job

1 – There’s never a right time.

Sometimes we get caught up in the trap of thinking that the timing is not quite right to make a change. We often think… “Oh, I’ll do it when I have more time, more money, more education, or more [fill in the blank].”

Truth is, the timing will never be perfect, and if you choose to wait, you’ll miss out on many opportunities that will present themselves as time moves on.  I made the decision to make the leap at an inopportune time. And I didn’t have a cushion of finances, time, or the best knowledge to move forward, but in my gut, it felt like the right decision.

And since that time, I’ve had many opportunities come my way simply because I was available to receive them. So, the right time is now, especially if you’ve had that gnawing feeling for so long.

2 – It’s okay to take care of yourself.

Sometimes this is hard, especially for nurses. We spend so much of our time taking care of others, often neglecting our own needs. Then, it spills over into our home-life as well. But, you must find the time to take care of yourself and listen to your mind, body and soul.

Listen to your intuition.

If what you’re doing doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

And that’s not a easy decision to come to and one that you shouldn’t take lightly either. It’s taken me a while to do this for things I truly don’t want to do because I often placed others before me, with a need to please them no matter the expense to myself, my time and my health.

So don’t apologize for saying “no” when it’s in your best interests. You’ll often discover that this is the best way to take care of yourself.

3 – When one door closes, another opens.

It’s okay to go after your dreams. And it’s okay to simply quit things that are no longer making you happy.

When I left my job in October, I immediately found time for engaging in things that made me happy. And yes, the sacrifice in finances may happen, but at the same time, it can be worth it. Best of all, I’ve done more with my business than I ever thought possible.

I’m blogging more, contributing pieces as a Health Writer at Nurse Gail, hosted a live event, expanding my tour company, and I’ve even been interviewed on RNFM Radio… all because I decided to close a door on one chapter of my life. Had I not, I would probably still be waiting for the best time to follow my dreams… which would probably never come.

4 – Money is a means, but can also be a hindrance.

For years since college, I remember thinking how I couldn’t wait until the day until I could finally make a little bit of money so I could save up and go on a real vacation… some international trip where I saw tourist attractions all day and sipped on umbrella-adorned drinks all night.

I finally realized that it really doesn’t take too much money to travel. In fact it’s often cheaper in some areas of the world to live than it is in our cheapest of States (as you see below in my $9 per night at a charming little place in Bali). I could have done it all along, but I just always thought travel was out of my reach because I felt I needed more money.

Money hindered me.

photo 1 (6) (1)

5 – Life is really too short.

Yes, this is cliché, but it is the truth. Just think about a dream or desire you had 10 years ago, or even 5 years ago. Have you accomplished it, or have the years flown by, and it’s still out of reach?

Now you…

Have you been thinking about making a major change in your life or career? What’s hindering you? Please feel free to comment below.

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