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  • Writer's pictureamyk73

It Sometimes Takes a Heart Attack to get Our Attention

I saw a post recently from a colleague describing his recent heart attack. He was going about a normal Sunday of taking a walk with his wife and dogs, stopping by the store for some dinner supplies and preparing for his work week. This was a pretty normal Sunday for him. It happened there sitting at his work computer as he went through his tasks and calendar that he felt the undeniable signs something wasn’t right. His first thoughts were about work and what his manager would say about the meeting he was preparing for not being completed and he hoped his wife wouldn’t find him dead at his keyboard. The event scared him as it would any of us. It was jarring and traumatic.

Maybe it was the emotional response to what happened to my colleague but he followed up this news by saying he had made life decisions as a result of this event. Number one was changing his job to one that gave him pleasure and was not the center of his world on Sunday afternoons. He wasn’t going to work at something any more that didn’t make him want to get up in the morning and go do it. The next was losing some weight to improve his health and reduce stress followed by more time with his family and doing what was right for them and himself. Pretty important items were on this list and probably things we all say to ourselves we need to do and will one day get to doing. It usually does take a life changing event like a heart attack sometimes to make it happen though sadly. He admitted he knew this was what he should have been doing all long but didn’t until now.

All of this had me squarely looking at my own life. Lately I have been working incredibly long hours, dealing with very politically charged situations at work and a high stress toxic environment. I thought I could fix it, ride it out even and it was only temporary. This has been going on for over six months now and was only seeming to get worse. Realistically, I probably never had a chance of making it better either. Yet I was going into work every day already stressed before the day began because I had to do something. My staff depended on me and I dependent on having a paycheck so we had to. There wasn’t a choice so I thought.

I had also gained weight through all of this because I was eating at my desk, not moving out of my chair and running on stress and coffee. I was stressed out, burned out and tired all the time. My family barely saw me even though all of this was happening in our home. I was always tucked away in my office working with my door shut and them hearing my voice talking over conference calls all day long. I didn’t have any energy left when it was over and barely made it through whatever I could throw together for dinner and get a shower in before crashing in bed to do it all over again the next day. It was all for the good I told myself. This is what it took to keep my job, secure a paycheck for my family’s needs and take care of us. Clearly I was headed down the same path as my colleague.

For past few years on top of working like this I have also run a small business. It was my dream that one day this would thrive big enough to set me financially free from needing a job. It has grown but is not at the point yet where we call it our primary source of income. I would still need to work but what I was finding was the demands of my job were taking time away from not only my family but also my dreams. It had actually come to the point I was considering pausing my blog and business to continue keeping up with my job demands!

Seeing the news of this colleague’s heart attack got my attention. I too, recently started a new job search. I swore I wasn’t going to do this again and yet here I find myself scrolling the online forums, adjusting my resume and taking calls from recruiters. It is by choice at the moment I take on this activity but it is necessary. I am doing this because I don’t want it to be my heart attack next. I miss my life, my small business, my friends and family and having a job that is just a job paying my bills, supporting my family and rewarding me for good work instead of taking until I have nothing left.

At first my spirit was crushed. I promised myself so many things that it feels like I have failed on in this moment. First being that I would build my small business up enough to offset a job dependency. While I have made strides in that area to be proud of it isn’t enough yet. It also sometimes becomes challenging to do all I need to grow my business when I was responding to non-stop emergencies and merciless deadlines in my job. We have to sometimes put the focus where it is most needed to take care of ourselves and for me I chose my job since it pays the bills. Once again I put a dream on the back burner in believing my job would have my back. It didn’t.

The other reason I feel like a failure in keeping my promises is because I knew better. I knew better because I had a similar list as my friend. We all have that list of losing some weight, being better parents and spouses and being in love with our life and work. Most of us miss out on seeing that happen in reality because we settle for jobs that are not making us happy, fulfilled or satisfied. They pay bills, provide benefits, have a mediocre vacation policy and decent match on the retirement investments, yet they don’t make us happy. They don’t make us want to rise on a Monday morning excited to log in.

The average duration on a job these days is a measly two to five years. That means we are either so frustrated by this point we leave, there is a restructuring that eliminates our jobs or some other circumstance that finds us on the job market. Looking for a job is exhausting. Doing it every couple years is spirit crushing. After a while you just get numb about it and play the game hoping you can get into a job that beats the odds in some way and lasts a little bit longer than the last one. If we can find that then we will find a way to make the other things on our list better.

It doesn’t get better my friend. In most cases it just keeps happening until we have a heart attack, retire or say enough. I am saying enough. I am not waiting until my health suffers further or I’m old enough to retire and have health problems then. My life is now! Your life is now too! We may not be able to walk out on those crummy jobs today but it is the day to start putting into motion the plans that do make that possible soon. It is time to reclaim our health, time and worth. Let’s not wait until we find ourselves unable or forced to face what is happening each day we don’t act.

Connect with me and let’s work together to build the life we all deserve to be living well.

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