Without a net

What’s the thing you’re most scared to do? What would it take to get you to do it?

I always chuckle a little when people ask me about my “career plan.” I’ve had a varied career– made several significant changes in role and focus. But there wasn’t a lot of planning involved.

Well actually there wasn’t any planning really. What there was, was a lot of gradual evolving and (sometimes very happenstance) networking. And lots of being in the right place at the right time.

And, there has been an unbroken safety net positioned squarely underneath every one of my career moves.

I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve always been in a position to move from one job to the next without a gap– without unemployment. And I should also acknowledge that I have the good fortune to never have had a job that was so stifling or unpleasant that I felt I just had to escape regardless of the risks.

But I would be lying if I said I’ve never been tempted. There have been lots of times when I have fantasized about walking away and winging it. Times when I’ve thought “what if…”

But I’ve never had the courage to jump without a net. The closest I ever came was leaving a full-time, “permanent” teaching position for a part-time term position with an employer I considered more desirable. But even then I was going directly from one paycheque to another. One pension plan to another. One benefits package to another.

You get the idea.

Once in a while I catch myself dreaming about going out on my own. Freelancing. Consulting. Being my own boss.

I know people who’ve done it– who do it very successfully. I know it can be done.

But I always stop short of giving up the net. When you get to my age, a good pension plan can be pretty addictive.

The good news is that, notwithstanding the fact that every job has its ups and downs, I actually like where I work right now. Fortunately I am in a job that has enough change built right into it to satisfy my endless craving to learn new things.

I don’t know who it was that originally said, ““Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”  Perhaps I’ve never had the courage to just plain quit any job because I’ve never had a job that was that kind of painful. I know I should be grateful for that. Because I know people who have reached that kind of breaking point in their work life and have had to make the leap–without a net–for the sake of their own well-being and personal integrity.

I still think it takes guts to jump overboard, even if  you are convinced the ship is sinking!

A couple of months ago Marina Shifren resigned from her job with a video that went viral. Now that’s what I call jumping without a net.

12 thoughts on “Without a net

  1. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Fright Night | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss

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  4. You are lucky indeed. Being happy and secure in your career is a huge blessing. I get the sense if there was something you wanted to *leap* to, you’d do it.

  5. This is great, Anna! I jumped without a net about a year ago, and I went through nearly six months of unemployment. But I had reached that breaking point you described. It was the first time I’d ever taken a risk like that, and I still have to fight the urge to go back to a life with “security.” I love hearing about people in careers that satisfy them — but I appreciate reading that having a satisfying career doesn’t mean you don’t question it at times.

  6. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Fright Night | flow of my soul

  7. You are lucky, and this post also reminded me of one of my favorite quotes, by Joseph Campell: “We must be willing to give up the life we planned in order to have the life that is waiting for us.” On another note, I was given a liebster last year, and I still have a few remaining to give out. I’ve been very choosy, but I’ve been creeping around and love your site. I especially enjoyed your post on silence. It also looks like your blog is relatively new (one of the requirements). To find out more about the liebster, please check out this link: http://notappropriate4.blogspot.com/2012/10/you-won-what-is-that-thing_17.html
    Then please leave me a message on one of my posts and let me know if you would like to accept or decline the liebster. If you accept, please follow the “rules” and link me back in/let me know when your post is up. I’ll add you to my list and share your blog too. I’m glad you like where you work and have never had a painful job, because I’ve known that feeling and it’s miserable.

  8. Sherrie Winstanley

    LOL – that’s SOOO good! I have quit in the past due to unwillingness to ethically compromise and due to unmanageable managers! it’s not easy, but I have to live with myself, and for the time being, so do several of my kids who remain at home before they spread their wings and get a taste of the real world. Perhaps I will quit again in the future…I am pressing forward on an awesome vision!

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