Reflecting on 5 Years of Change
5 years ago today, I resigned from my job and a 20-year career in investment management. I am regularly asked how I knew it was the right choice. James Hollis, a Jungian psychotherapist and author I greatly admire, has noted that at different times in our life, the psyche will withdraw support for life as it is. Your soul decides it is time for change and growth. This is exactly what it felt like for me. At first, it was a tiny internal shift, hardly perceptible even to myself. One day, I just didn’t feel like I fit my life as neatly as I did previously. There was an inner recognition there was something ‘more’ to be discovered. With the benefit of time, I realise that ‘more’ was more of me. More of the person I could be was waiting to be expressed in the world. Waiting for me to develop the courage to take a leap. So, it wasn’t that I knew it was the right choice. Rather, I was certain if I did not act on what my inner world was telling me, I would regret it.
I have learnt a lot in these 5 years, not least that transformation in life involves sacrifice. To undertake any journey of transformation you must accept the loss of the certainty of who you are to move into the possibility of who you are becoming. My ego has fought me every step of the way. With time, I came to understand that underneath that ego was grief and fear. The grief was for the life I had, for what I was giving up. I deeply felt the loss of my previous identity and career path, of a community of colleagues I liked and of an industry in which my reputation was established and solid. I didn’t notice the grief at first. When you are going through a change of this magnitude, you don’t have the capacity to notice everything that is happening internally. It is only in the last year as I have become more and more solid in my new identity, I could acknowledge the sense of loss I felt.
Fear, on the other hand, has become something I welcome more of in my life. Previously, I was not afraid. I had been playing it safe and I knew it. In the last 5 years, I have realised fear is good for me. The goal should never be to overcome fear but to be in better relationship with your fear. When you try to suppress fear or live without it, it makes you smaller. If you engage with it, it provides a helping hand to become larger. Today when I am afraid, I go in the direction of my fear. It is my compass, pointing me towards what internally I must overcome to evolve. It helps me understand where I still hold myself back. It pushes me to become ‘more’.
Transformation comes for us all. The choice is only whether you accept that call or not. We all experience those moments when something has stirred inside us. They feel absolutely terrifying. But these moments are a gift. A signal from your inner world telling you it is time to embrace change. That something new is ready. In the end, it doesn’t matter if the change succeeds or not. The ultimate prize is how change helps you experience life and become a more fully expressed version of who you can be.