A few weeks ago, and after months, years even, of dreaming of starting my own business and leaving the 9 to 5 (or to 11 sometimes) corporate life, I arrived at my last day of work. As customary in my company, I went through an exit interview during which I spent time talking to the head of HR, a good friend and supportive colleague, about my experience in the 5 years I spent working with him. In the hour and a half we spent talking, he gave me more positive feedback than he did in all of the annual appraisals we had done throughout my tenure. He told me how much he valued my contribution to the company and what a positive impact I have had on my colleagues, customers and the business in general. Of course, it was satisfying to hear these things from someone whose professional opinion I respect, having truly dedicated myself and worked hard to do the things he praised me for. But more than that, I wondered, out loud, why his genuine words of appreciation had to come on my last day of work. He asked me whether this would have had an impact on my decision to leave, and my answer came quickly: no, it wouldn’t have. After all, choosing to leave the security of a full-time job, guaranteed monthly paycheck and all the benefits that come with being employed by a global organization was not an easy decision to make, so I had thought it through and considered all my options.
I asked myself, if not now, then when?
As I mulled this over in my mind on a flight days later, I watched a bit of a morbid, but enlightening, documentary that followed 12 people who were diagnosed with terminal illnesses and were told they had months to live. As I watched these people of different ages, different races and from different backgrounds talk about what they learned from this scary and final realization, I too learned a few lessons. I learned that while I knew and repeated the cliché “life is short”, I was wrong, because saying that it’s short implies that we know how far it extends or where it ends. We don’t. I learned that while I say things like “seize the moment”, I don’t always follow through. I am one of those people who save the nice silverware and plates for guests, I wear my nice outfits only on special occasions, I put off calling people I love and miss, thinking I would have the chance to do it later.
In short, I assume there’s always, always, more time. But, is there?
If we were to imagine our lives on a straight line, with an “x” pointing to where we stand in this exact moment in time, and an “o” pointing to where our thoughts are in this same moment, I can almost guarantee that the “o” is often far from the “x”, floating somewhere in the past or in the future. I read a sentence that stuck with me the other day: “worrying is like praying for what you don’t want”. Who would do that? Most of us, evidently.
Bringing more self-awareness into our lives and choosing to just be… here, now, is priceless.
I wonder, how far is your “o” from your “x”, right now?