2020 taught us more lessons than we were prepared to learn. One of them was to live the life of our dreams because there are no guarantees for a tomorrow. I am not being morbid, just practical about focusing on what and who matters. Do you want to wake up every day and log into a dead-end job or will you be brave and explore your purpose?
Yes, there are bills to be paid and groceries to be bought. There might be children’s college funds and elderly parents to worry about. I would never preach irresponsibility. Also, I am a big believer in women’s financial independence. It changes the dynamic of their relationships. What if you could make your dream project/job/business a side hustle until it grows into something financially reliable? If you are unhappy in your job (or relationship), it will impact the quality of your well-being. Is it worth it? We have one life to live.
M. Scott Peck said, “The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” Meet four dynamic women across India, Mexico, Singapore, and the United States who recognized what made them uncomfortable, chose to shift gears, and pivoted their career for a variety of reasons.
Neetha Sanjay, who lives in Singapore, is a dental surgeon who turned management professional. She is a life and career coach for women who sees life through a more beautiful lens after changing her career. When I asked her if and how the change in career impacted her life and well-being, she said, “Becoming a life and career coach was the best decision of my life as it connected my passion to my purpose of empowering women.
Previously, my focus was all about helping people to make their smiles better; now I feel more wholesome to be in the space of looking at them holistically and helping them through their challenges. Partnering with clients in their journey of transformation is not only gratifying but a journey of self-discovery as well. I have become a lot more self-compassionate and come to understand my own strengths better, which is extremely empowering. There are times when I might be feeling low, but I put out my best self for a client. By the end of the session, we both feel invigorated!”
New Delhi-based Pooja Jain worked as a HR professional for a long time before becoming an entrepreneur and career coach seven years ago.
“I haven’t really changed my field of work drastically; it has transitioned into allied areas where the skill sets are similar and add to my overall development as well. I now work with school and college students, working professionals and parents. I deal with diverse issues and challenges. With each case, I get to learn something,” says Jain. She confesses that going from being a salaried employee with fixed monthly income to completely ad hoc work and no fixed schedule was nerve-racking and stressful in the first year of business. But she appreciates the flexibility and satisfaction gained:
(1) She chooses the projects she wants to work on or not.
(2) Takes up projects and commitments depending on her schedule and needs of the family, which in turn lowers her stress and helps with her sense of overall well-being.
“I feel I’m a more open person now, willing to take more risks, confident to handle any challenge, and am more aware of my own strengths and weaknesses,” she said.
Lainey Cameron lives in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. But outside of Covid times, she and her husband are digital nomads – meaning they pick locations to live for six months at a time.
Cameron used to be a chief marketing officer or vice president of marketing at various companies, big and small, in Silicon Valley. Now she is an award-winning author of women’s fiction. The change has made a difference to her physical health.
“Over a decade ago I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. While I worked in the pressured environment of the tech industry, I’d often have flare-ups, where my inflammatory system goes into overdrive, At rare times I’d end up in the hospital. I’m not working fewer hours now, but I feel more in control of my schedule, like I’m living life at my pace, rather than having deadlines imposed on me. I’d read about the link between stress and inflammation, but I was still amazed, when I stepped back from a career, I believe I enjoyed it, that my health also balanced out. Crohn’s is to be managed for life, but for the last four years I’ve avoided any significant flare-ups.”
Marjorie Spitz Rento is part of the “work from anywhere” world. You can likely find her on the Upper West Side of Manhattan or in Montauk, NY. Marjorie has had a high-level, executive career in advertising (Ogilvy & Mather, Deutsch, Kirshenbaum & Bond and Mad Dogs & Englishmen…to name a few).
“At the age of 29 I was living the dream: residing in Manhattan, running account management at Mad Dogs, and with a full social calendar. Until one night I awoke with debilitating chest pain, thinking I was having a heart attack. Turns out I had permanently damaged my esophagus lining due to chronic acid reflux from years of poorly managing the stress of trying to be the perfect, high performer in a world where I felt I had so much to prove, especially as a woman. I realized that on the outside I looked happy and energetic, but my insides strongly disagreed, and I didn’t even know it. It was a life-changing wake-up call.”
Rento took a leave of absence from her job to self-reflect and travel to faraway places to gain perspective. “I realized that I’m most in touch with my heart when I’m helping individuals and companies thrive. And thus, charted a new path into coaching and business consulting.” She now transforms great leaders into unshakeable change agents, advises small businesses, helps CEOs and HR leaders create thriving cultures, coach executives and help people get their mojo back.
“Aligning my work with my heart has been super fulfilling. I don’t have to be multiple people, just myself whether at work, play or home and it literally is my job to make sure I’m mentally and physically well,” says Rento.
It takes real courage to look closely, accept what’s not working, and look for fulfilling options. In the end, these four women are happy and healthy. Will 2021 be the year you make your move?
“The worst days of those who enjoy what they do, are better than the best days of those who don’t.” ~ E. James Rohn