When it is time to listen to your gut…

2016... The year that I celebrated my 10th anniversary with Shell (something I have always been scared of, to stay somewhere that long) AND the year that I turned 40 in December.

My new year’s resolution for 2016 was to give myself one year to figure our what I really wanted to do with the ‘second half of my life’. Imagining that I could stay with my current employer until my retirement gave me the creeps, but what was it then that I wanted to pursue? What was it that I had always wanted to do?

Today is one year later and exactly 3 months after my last day as employee. I turned 40, left Shell, started my own venture The Other Perspective and went back to university, something that I always wanted to pick up.

I have not felt this liberated since I was a student. The last couple of months, I have met and re-met so many wonderful people who help me with starting up my business, who inspire me and who tell me I inspire them.

The big lessons that I have learned during the last couple of months are:

  1. Don’t hurry, but take time for a process like this. In my case, going on holiday to Turkey (this was in May 2016), reading the book Busy (Tony Crabbe) and spending time in a hamam (a few times) and with my family did the trick. After two weeks, I knew exactly what I did NOT want to do anymore and what I DID want to do became clearer and clearer…
  2. Diverge your thinking. Instead of going for the first idea that comes to mind, stop yourselve, take a pause and consider all possible alternatives. For me, this meant that – instead of looking for a new role inside my own organisation – considering every option possible was what I needed to do. Starting my own business, scary, new, but definitely worth considering…
  3. Have real conversations. Something that one should always do, but especially when you are looking for ideas/feedback/confirmation. The conversations that I have had with various friends/colleagues and complete strangers were in most cases beautiful gifts. Thank you all!
  4. Develop yourself. Google on topics that interest you, try to find courses/workshops/conferences that you can attend to broaden your horizon and grow your network with people that share a passion with you.
  5. Look after yourself. Go to the gym, try to eat healthy, sleep well. Everyone knows this is important, but now it is time to really do it, to take care of yourself. No-one else will.
  6. Leaving the known is not easy. Once you know the company you work for, your colleagues, it can be difficult to take the decision to leave. Not just because you will miss the things that are known to you, also because you don’t have a clue what will come next.
  7. Leaving the known is what everyone should try to do – at least once. Breaking up with your loved one or with your first employer. It is not that different. But the people who have done it know that new opportunities will come up. The freedom it creates will be filled with new experiences/chances. You just have to trust the universe.
  8. If you don’t like it, you can always stop and try something else. Whatever you do, whatever you choose, it does not have to be forever. Trust your instincts, don’t give up too easily, show resilience. But if it really is not the thing for you, just stop. There is always the option to start over.

This post appeared on LinkedIn earlier this year (20-03-2017)