Many dream about leaving behind corporate life. Reporting to no one but yourself. A seven-second commute to your screened-in porch.
Nine months ago, I did it.
After more than two great decades at Procter & Gamble, I made the leap–a planned exit from corporate life to go all-in on my former side hustle of writing, speaking, and teaching. Now this is my full hustle and believe me, I’m hustlin’ (and loving every minute of it).
I’m pausing now to share the great concoction that is retrospection–enabled by my leap.
And by the way, this isn’t about guiding you to jump. It’s about guiding you to joy.
May these eight realizations help you be happier wherever you are:
1. Two things will be the death of us: death and meetings.
It’s even clearer now. So much time is wasted in meetings, in so many ways. On minutiae, micromanagement, or masquerading.
If I could have back just a quarter of the time I spent in meetings, I’d add a dollar to the stock price.
Stage a revolt. Question why you’re meeting. Ask if you can get it done through email or by (gasp) just deciding.
2. I miss most of the people and none of the processes.
Process can serve a purpose, sometimes.
The people we work with give us purpose, all the time.
Oh, to be able to get back all that time spent serving some mundane process and reinvest it in relationships.
When you’re removed from the people alongside whom you’ve labored and laughed, you’re reminded of something.
Life is relationships.
The daily little investments you make in others will matter in the end. Think of it as the 401(k) for a meaningful life.
3. It’s less about being impressive, and more about making an imprint.
In the corporate world, it’s easy to spend too much time worrying about how you come across in meetings or what your boss (or boss’s boss) thinks of you.
I certainly got caught here at times.
But I see more clearly than ever that it’s not what people think of you that counts.
It’s what they say about you, from the heart, when no one is looking. What kind of person are you? What kind of imprint did you leave on the lives of others?
Find ways to broaden your platform for making a difference to others.
Chase authenticity, not approval.
4. All that little stuff really is little stuff.
Ugh. So much time getting caught up in crap. Stuff that just doesn’t matter.
The little jab from a manager, a co-worker’s dropped ball, the disgust with your outdated office surroundings. Whatever your little stuff is, just remind yourself that it’s just that and don’t let it cumulatively eat at you. Eat a different meal–one of perspective and positive attitude.
5. Flexibility is intoxicating.
For me, leaving corporate life has meant working a much more flexible schedule. I’m just as busy, but twice as productive.
I honestly think if I were still at Conglomerate Inc., I’d find a flexible work schedule 10 times more motivating than a huge pay raise.
If you’re a boss, be brave, trust, and find ways to grant this powerful flexibility. If you’re an employee, ask for it.
6. My presence is more of a present.
I don’t mean this egotistically.
Being outside of a highly stressful corporate environment has lowered my defenses, and raised my interpersonal IQ. I’m more relaxed, less preoccupied, and more fully present with others.
I know–that’s easy for me to say when I no longer have to explain bad share results in the morning.
But I’m wistful that I wasn’t able to put the stress in its place more often to more fully invite in the gift of another’s presence. Learn from me.
7. There’s no greater pick-me-up than feeling challenged and growing again.
In my role, the work and challenges were becoming repetitive. Life is dotted with many tempting parking spaces, and I may have pulled into one without realizing it.
My world is now one of writing and speaking full time, endeavoring to build online courses, teaching at a university–all new and all energizing.
Recommit to the idea of challenge and growth. It’s an elixir of joy.
8. Your health belongs on a pedestal. Period.
Corporate life can be synonymous with sacrifice, often of the mental and physical kind. Being able to up my health investment is paying dividends in my professional life. Health and work don’t have to be mutually exclusive. It took my getting out of the grind to realize that.
I’m thankful for everything that corporate life taught and gave me. I hope now to continue my evolution from being to becoming.
Wherever you are, you can do the same.