Updated: Jan 9
This past Saturday was my last day as COO of the Wellness for Growth Foundation. I had been volunteering there for precisely seven years, but as we know, all good things must come to an end.
My last day coincided with the organization's Christmas Celebration. While talking to one of my co-volunteers, she asked me why I was leaving. Answering her query -an exciting new business and exciting personal plans- I got teary-eyed (the first of several times that morning, I must add.) Not surprisingly, she asked why I had tears in my eyes if I was convinced that I was leaving my position for the right reasons. Well, good question. The only way I had to express what I was feeling was to compare it to when a loved one comes to visit you from afar and, a few days later, they go back home. You know he or she is going to be there for you even if you don’t see them every day. You will probably be exchanging text messages as soon as the plane lands; still, you both are sad and maybe shed a tear or two while saying good-bye. Saying good-bye to something or someone you cherish is always difficult -even when it's for a good reason. A child going away to college, anyone?
I was sad because my work with the foundation had filled my time for seven years in such a way that it will take time to replace. I built a routine around my work there, and now I feel like those “time guardrails” have dropped. Having some unstructured time feels like looking over a cliff and asking, "Now what?” I have the answer to “now what?” don’t get me wrong. I have plans and projects already in motion, but it will take time for me to adjust to my redesigned routine.
That Saturday, after we said our good-byes and exchanged hugs and well-wishes, a question popped up in my head. Why did I get sad closing this chapter of my life? Why did I get sad if I'm looking forward to this new chapter I’ve dreamt about for so long? Shouldn’t I be thrilled to be moving on? After all, my friends are still going to be there, right? I'm sure we'll bump into each other more than once in the next few months alone. But still. There is this pesky sadness that comes with farewells that I just can't shake off.
Attachment. That's the word that came to mind. I felt pleasantly attached to my system and my schedule, to a supportive chain of command, to our organizational culture, the collaboration and encouragement provided by those around me. By contrast, in my consulting business, there is no one else but me. I'm the sole decision-maker, the marketing, and salesperson, the bookkeeper, you name it, it's me. Maybe that's at the heart of my mini separation anxiety. I said good-bye to a team of people who have had my back for seven years to move on and launch this exciting new adventure on my own.
Who said that reinventing yourself is easy? It’s not. Starting from scratch -whatever your “from scratch” looks like, it’s not easy. Saying good-bye voluntarily to your comfort zone to face the unknown takes courage, even if you're sure that what's coming up is fabulous. Right now, I’m feeling a mix of sadness and exhilaration, does that make any sense? It does to me, for some weird reason. Reinventing myself has always been exciting, feels fresh; however, this may be the most significant jump I’ve taken in several years.
From now on, when I look back at my seven years with the Wellness for Growth Foundation, I'll remember those years with fondness. It was a time of learning, of leaving my comfort zone time and time again, of significant personal growth. There I developed skills I never thought I would need. I made lasting friendships with extraordinary people and saw first-hand the impact on those at the receiving end of my (our) community work. What an incredible experience! So, here I go, moving forward with optimism and enthusiasm, and looking at an inspiring future made bright thanks to my involvement with an amazing organization and its people.
Cheers, and wish me luck!
What about you? With 2019 coming to an end, have you thought of ways to reinvent yourself in 2020? Of starting the new year fresh, with new goals and renew excitement? Tell me about that time when you said good-bye (voluntarily) to a job you loved. Why did you do it? What did you do afterward? Leave your comments below; I would love to read them!