Some have called me crazy, some have called me smart. Some have just called me stupid. All of this exciting acclaim because in early 2018, I walked away from an opportunity many would call a dream- life as a corporate executive making a generous six figure salary annually. A position in which I was surrounded by highly intelligent leaders, the exciting atmosphere of a publicly traded company on the “the Street”, and generous annual bonuses and corporate perks.
After 8 years with the company, corporate began downsizing in 2017 and my position was on “the list”. Thankfully hard work, the blessing of sitting on high performing executive teams, and my amazing boss’ support had me positioned well. I had offers within industry for similar positions, and my company had a couple of potential spots I might chase after. All in all, not nearly the terrifying predicament I imagined myself in as a young executive, should I ever find myself on (gasp)…”the list.”
I said no. The unthinkable. The unimaginable. The overarching statement that equates to death in the that world. No going back, I launched myself into the great unknown as a 40+ year old woman. Yikes.
You see behind my perfectly coiffed blonde hair, Brooks Brothers blazers and Coach heels there was a woman who yearned to get home before my kids were done with dinner and in bed. A woman who missed school plays, was late to the kids concerts, and was too tired to join her husband at the gym. All at my own overachieving hands and ambitions, mind you.
High octane meetings, politics within layers of the company, and the responsibility and passion to support hundreds of employees left me too burnt out to hear about my husband’s growing business everyday. As the company began to struggle, these pressures left me physically ill (I was never sick in my life), and emotionally exhausted. God was quietly whispering that I should make a change, and now He was getting loud.
So I said no. I decided to take a lower level leadership position in a privately held company close to home, and to help my husband with his real estate business in my newly found free time. I drive my daughter to school and never fly out for meetings anymore. Miraculously I have stopped taking the medicine I needed for my GI issues over the last few years. And I have taken a pay cut which to me equates to absolute freedom from fear of losing my inflated income.
The revelation? This is what is best for me during this season of life and by taking the scariest step of my professional career I have truly found peace. That is it. I now have time to think clearly, spend time with my family and friends without exhaustion, and appreciate the little things in life (like Saturday morning coffee on my porch without the phone ringing and making it home for dinner.) I honor and appreciate those who innately have the gift of corporate life in their DNA (heck, I did it for years). However for me.. following my heart and facing my fears has been a wonderful gift for this life season. Fear is a terrible liar, and peace can not be bought with dollars and cents.
So..crazy? Maybe. Smart? Definitely. Stupid? Not one bit.
Heather Black Woolf