Dating back to high school, I had a dream of becoming a wildly successful businesswoman. At the time, and for the next 20-something years of my life, "wildly successful" meant money, titles, secretaries, travel (in first class of course), a condominium with a view in a big city, and Diane VonFurstenberg wrap dresses paired with Manolo Blahnik heels. My presence would demand respect, my decisions would become policies, and my leadership would birth movements.
I knew that my dream would require hard work, so I worked hard. I got accepted at a good college from high school, graduated with honors from a coveted business school, started at an entry level job with a solid company, and worked my way up through the hierarchy to Partner. Success was hard work, but by age 43, I was a successful businesswoman. From the rooftop of my Boston condominium to the heels of my Manolo Blahnik shoes, I had "made it." I really loved my career, and the life it provided me. There was just one thing that kept me from throwing the covers off me in the morning and jumping out of bed to start my day; my heart wasn't quite as happy as my head.
I was a human resources director for a Fortune 500 company. I was also a certified holistic health coach, the latter a result of an ongoing fascination with health and drive for constant self-development. While one would think, as I did, that the job and the certification would complement each other nicely, in fact the opposite was true. The higher I climbed the corporate ladder, the unhealthier I, and the people I was responsible for, became. Sure, there was the physical health decline due to long hours, lack of sleep, and too much travel, but there was also the mental, spiritual and relationship deterioration. I lost touch with the present as I focused solely on my career future. Business travel replaced experiencing the world as a curious traveler with nothing but a backpack and my husband. My life was absent of meaning. I searched for my why, my give back, my legacy, but only found policy, politics and hierarchical power.
I'm not sure if it was divine intervention, spiritual awakening, universal alignment, or just the really amazing bottle of chardonnay I had shared with my husband the night before, but something amazing happened one morning in November 2010. As my eyes struggled to open in the brisk morning sun, I felt different. I had an epiphany. I realized that it was time to redefine what "successful business woman" truly meant to me. My energy level was so high I think I actually ran to the bathroom to start my morning routine -- a far cry from the sleepwalking coma that I usually existed in for the better part of morning. Forgoing the usual jolt into reality that my email inbox usually provided me, I took out a piece of paper and started visioning. A trollop through fantasyland over a cup of coffee -- what a beautiful start to the day. I wrote the word "successful" at the top of a piece of paper and started writing. Money was still a part of this list, confirming that I still had control of my body and mind and hadn't been replaced by a Buddhist monk overnight, but there was more. Alignment, helpful, giving, awaken, supportive, being present, these were all now part of my success definition. I still wanted my leadership to start a movement, but not necessarily a corporate dictated movement. I wanted to lead a movement to make the world a healthier place -- in the corporate world in particular.
So, I decided I would quit my six-figure job and start my movement, in the form of an executive health and leadership coaching company. In hindsight, and much to my surprise, the decision was relatively easy. My heart and my mind were at peace together. I quit my job to live my life in alignment with who I was, and to teach others how to do the same. No, I don't coach people on how to quit their jobs; I coach people on how to live a life congruent with their goals, values, beliefs and desires. How to find their true definition of success.
It has been 3.5 years since I left my corporate job. Since then, we have sold our condominium in Boston -- because my husband decided to quit his job too and follow his passion for photography. We have lived in Kauai and Cape Cod for the past few years -- travelling back and forth to take full advantage of weather, tourist seasons (great for selling landscape photography), and living life to it's fullest. We've learned a lot, it's been hard work, but I'd have it no other way.
I'm a different type of big time. I'm a different type of powerful. Oh, and the money thing? I am learning that money earned doing what you love is just as abundant as money earned "the hard way." Six figures are six figures -- how you earn it makes all the difference.