A Year of Gifts
Have you ever wanted to make a big life change but you couldn’t quite get yourself there? Maybe you wanted to move to a different city or go back to school. For me, I wanted a new career. Actually, I needed a new career. The old one wasn’t working for me anymore, and I refused to “ride it out”.
But starting something new in my fifties felt daunting. Work needed to look different this time. At the top of my list was freedom. Freedom to choose when and where I’d work, and what I’d work on. My best option was to work for myself, but what would it be like to be my own boss?
I almost quit my old gig a few different times, but to be frank, I always chickened out. Time continued to tick by, and suddenly I was no longer in my “early fifties”. I’d reached fifty-five. If this kept up, I’d turn sixty and still be unhappy at work. I could technically “retire” from my corporate job, although I knew I wanted to keep working.
What I really wanted to do was throw my entire self into writing books. As a banker and an accountant, I vacillated between the potential financial pitfalls along any author’s path and the sheer excitement over the prospect of finally pursuing the longings of my heart. I’d published my first book four years earlier and spent most of my free time learning about publishing and writing craft.
Did I dare give notice this time? Was I crazy to walk away from a paycheck and benefits? Probably, but the ultimate cost of staying loomed too high. I knew if I didn’t try, I’d always regret it, and I refuse to be one of those people with a heaping pile of regrets at the end of my days.
If I was finally going to summon the courage to change careers, I needed reinforcements. A dear friend offered endless encouragement. My spouse supported my decision. Even the arbitrary early-retirement age at my company felt like “permission”. But I still worried I’d chicken out. Again.
I celebrated turning fifty-five in late July 2021. August flew by, and though I thought about quitting my job nearly every day, I didn’t give notice. What was I waiting for? Another few paychecks? Don’t misunderstand. I knew I was blessed to have a job at all. But reminders were popping up all around. It was time, and I knew I couldn’t wait any longer.
I didn’t even want to wait until the end of the year. I decided to pick the day and it would feel magical when I reached it. That random date I selected was October 15, 2021. I’d give a one-month notice. But how could I stay true to myself? It would be too easy to put it off again. After all, delaying had become a habit.
I needed a new plan. I’ve always loved encouraging quotes. If I kept reinforcing my commitment every day to this self-devised timeline, would I actually do it this time? The date was September 9, 2021, and it would have been my mom’s seventy-eighth birthday if she’d still been alive. Because I knew she’d want this for me, I decided, once and for all, that I was doing this. I’d give notice the following week, on September 15th, and be done in a month. That meant there were thirty-six days until I was free to pursue my new career.
I spent that September 9th combing through copies of quotes I’d saved in various places: screen shots on my phone, boards I’d put together over the years on Pinterest, and even highlighting in some of my favorite books. I found thirty-six favorites, wrote them down on pretty paper, and headed to the backyard to take a picture of every single one.
I hoped those words of encouragement that I’d collected over the years would ultimately help see me through this time. Each day, I’d study that day’s quote and then tack it up on a fresh posterboard. I wouldn’t break the chain, no matter what. I saved my very favorite quote for what would be my last day at the place I’d worked since I was twenty-four years old. Maybe you think this all sounds silly, but it worked. It had taken me years to figure out what would keep my commitment and courage strong.
I'll do what makes me happy and be done with all the rest.
Embrace uncertainty, some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much later.
The trouble is, you think you have time. Buddha
They say your life can change in an instant, and that’s true. But when we have to intentionally summon the courage to make a change that rockets us out of our comfort zone, especially when it’s a change that many people won’t understand, it takes something extra. In my case, it was the combination of an accountability buddy and a series of random quotes, written on dated slips of paper, that saw me through from dissatisfaction to a new way of life.
As I’m writing this blog post, it’s exactly two years since I chose to finally stay true to myself. It should have been Mom’s eightieth birthday, and although I couldn’t celebrate with her, I know she’d approve of the changes I’ve made.
I’ve decided it will be fun to share those actual quotes and images with you, once a day, until I reach my two-year anniversary in my new career. Come find me on Facebook or Instagram under "kimberlydiedeauthor" to follow along. Be sure to let me know if any of them resonate with you, too.
I’ll ask again: is there a big decision you’re tired of putting off? If so, what kind of encouragement could you give yourself to follow through this time? Maybe some of my favorite quotes will ignite a fire for you, too.
Cheering you on, Kim
Kimberly Diede Author
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!