When you’re tired, drained, and completely on autopilot on your way to work, you are burning out. When are you ready to take the steps you need to change your current circumstances? You have to decide when enough is enough. Draw your line in the sand and define that point of no return. You’re here for a reason. Start doing something to change your life. You are more important than all of the expectations, obligations, and responsibilities that you’re currently drowning in. In part three of the first chapter of her book, Dear Workaholics, Kat Nieh talks about her wakeup call that finally pushed her to put in her notice and take back her life.
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[ Episode 9 ] 1.3 – My wakeup call
“Chapter 1.3 – My Wake Up Call”
“Before I learned that lesson, let me share with you an example from my life that clearly illustrates what could happen if you spend too long giving from an empty cup. One day my body had enough of my brain’s “I’ll make it all work out somehow” mentality. I had enough of running an unfulfilling rat race. I was completely drained dry. I was hurting myself unintentionally. My body was telling me that if I wasn’t willing to make a change, it would have no choice but to make me listen. I had to learn my lesson the hard way and it came in the form of vertigo. Have you ever had vertigo? I wouldn’t wish this upon anyone at all. How is there still no medication and no cure for this in this day and age? The doctor told me that I had to ride out the storm.”
“It feels like you’re living on a houseboat in the middle of a hurricane. Motion sickness becomes your norm. Enjoy the marvelous sensation of the whole world spinning all around you as you try to gain your footing. I had to hold on to something to keep me from losing my balance with every step I took. There might be nausea or vomiting on the bad days. I could barely think clearly or function as a normal human being. I was forced to rest, to take the much needed mental and physical break for a few days. I was confined to my bed or the couch if I could make it out to the living room. I could barely look at my phone and forget my laptop as I couldn’t even sit up. Vertigo can either be long-term or short-term. Luckily for me, I recovered from vertigo after a few days and it was not chronic.”
“The first time I experienced this condition in my life was in November 2016 when it started the ball rolling on my much-needed wake-up call. I made some changes afterward, but the overall conditions didn’t seem to improve. I am a fighter, so I kept on going. I stayed at my company but moved to another department. I told myself to give it another year, but this time around I knew almost instantly that this was not the fix my body had in mind. Have you ever lied to yourself and trick your brain into believing your lies? My workaholism was stubborn and it ran deep. I refused to believe I couldn’t make it work. When it got even harder to get up in the mornings, dread came over me as I saw a sea of sameness every day with this never-ending cycle of repeating itself.”
“There was one major change I made that became my beacon of hope. I started taking some personal development courses to expand my horizons. Each course reignited the passion I had snuffed out and served to help replenish my cup. That only did so much because 80% of my time was still in this same soul-draining state. Exactly one year later, I had experienced my body cries for attention a second time. I got vertigo again. This couldn’t have been a coincidence. I couldn’t ignore the signs anymore. Once more I was forced to rest my mind and body because that’s exactly what they both needed the most.”You are more important than all of the expectations, obligations, and responsibilities that you're currently drowning in. Click To Tweet
“As I rested, I thought about what had led me to my forced condition for the second time, almost exactly a year later. I wanted things to work out so badly at work, but they didn’t and it broke my heart. I then pottered my life as a whole and where I had ended up. I’m a good-hearted person. I help others. I work hard. I make good money. I am completely independent and self-sufficient. Why isn’t that enough? In all this, there was something big missing. In addition to desiring a loving relationship and having my own family, which was another part of my life I neglected due to establishing my career.”
“Every single path my brain wandered down led to the same body of thought. Is this it? Is this what life will be like when I retire? Can I keep on doing this? What am I doing all this for? What does making all this money good for if I don’t have the time to enjoy the lifestyle I worked so hard to create? There has to be more than this. I had willfully ignored all these thoughts to fulfill my need to work and please others. I’ve recovered, but the situation was the same. I knew I had to be the one to make a big change. Something was different this time because of this one incident. I finally drew my line in the sand.”
“One morning I was tired, drained and completely on autopilot while stuck in traffic on my way to work. This silly thought popped into my head, “I am going to put it in my notice.” That felt so right as a massive wave of relief came over me. I said to myself, “Yes, I’m finally going to do it. It’s time.” I’ve been a burnout workaholic for way too long and now it’s time for me to take back my life. I had a conversation with my manager that afternoon. He understood and he asked me when I was planning to leave. Since I had inherited an amazingly talented team of designers, I wanted to do right by them. I signed on for another two months before my official last day of work. I wanted to make sure they were taken care of and properly transferred over to their new team as I also wrapped up my ongoing projects.”
“I slowly said my goodbyes to my brothers and sisters who had fought in this long startup battle with me. We reminisced over our victories and all the great times we had together. As I handed in my official two-week notice letter, the end to this chapter of my life was becoming more and more real. It was scary, but it was also so freeing at the same time. It was bittersweet but tainted with heartbreak as well. What was my plan after leaving? Take a year off. What was I going to do after the year? I don’t know. I’ll figure it out later. Who does that? I embarked on a path less traveled as I didn’t know anyone else who had done the same.”
“It was completely disruptive to the norm and it was epic. It was one big leap of faith followed by a million tiny little stops with a few puddle jumps thrown in there for good measure. That was the beginning of my self-discovery journey felt like.”
That’s the end of Chapter 1.3.
That was my wake-up call that span across months. It was made up of all these smaller moments and each of those moments built upon each other until I couldn’t take it anymore. I knew I had to do something to change my life. I had to draw my line in the sand. Where is your line? What is your point of no return? You’re here for a reason.
When are you ready to take the steps you need to change your current circumstances? You have to decide when enough is enough. When are you going to be more important than all of these expectations, obligations and responsibilities that you’re currently drowning in? Define that point of no turn. Declare it, share it and know it by heart. What will you do when that line is crossed? Take a stand for yourself. Be clear in what you want. When that time comes and you ended up crossing that line, enact that plan bravely with your firm determination. Stay tuned for another reading of a chapter from my book, Dear Workaholics.
Until then, you got this. I’m here with you.