One of my favorite poems is Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” At this point in my life with all the decisions I have made over the last five years, this poem resonates with me. Especially the last two lines in the poem, “I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”
The decisions I have made in the past five years have been life changing. I have been criticized by friends, family, and strangers along the way. However, I am happy with the changes in my life. Anyone who knows me well, knows how analytical I am, so none of the major life decisions were made on a whim. They were well thought out, the pros and the cons, the “what ifs” good and bad. Sometimes maybe over thought, but still not just something I woke up and decided to do. I know what I am going to write about here today will be criticized by the same people who told me I’d fail moving to North Carolina from Pennsylvania. I have learned to ignore the negative and focus on the positive. I want to continue to be happy with my life and if I’m not happy with it, I have to have the courage to change.
In my last post “The Lemons You Create in Your Own Life,” I talk about being at a three-prong fork in the road pertaining to my career.
- Stay where I am currently employed.
- Go back out in the job market.
- Start my own business
Last weekend I made the first decision which was to resign from my current position. I wrote up a resignation letter with an 8-10 week exit strategy. The exit strategy listed all the things that need to be transitioned / trained to either my successor or another employee. It also listed two projects I wanted to see through to completion. With my recent health issues, due to stress levels, it was no surprise to the owners. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do for a living. I’m a nerd (yes, I said it). I love numbers and analyzing them to see what is really going on in a business. My current company needed the analytical reporting I provided. I have the reports where anyone can learn to update and analyze them. Through my tenure there I have worked hard to support all the departments providing information and experience from 25 years in the workforce at various levels and various types of organizations. So, it is with a heavy heart that I am leaving the company.
As you can tell, this decision was not an easy one by any means. I started thinking about it two months ago, and every weekend I would crunch numbers and write out the pros and cons. When you put your heart and soul into something, it hurts when you realize you need to walk away. It is similar to a relationship (friendship or romantic) that is not working out. I will not say anything bad about the company because I still believe in the company and the people, it just is not a good fit for me at this point in my life.
Several weeks ago, I reevaluated my life, mainly because my stress level almost landed me in the hospital. I thought about every aspect of my life. I kept asking myself the following questions:
- Why did you end a 20-year marriage in 2012?
- Why did you relocate without a job the end of 2014?
- What are you really looking for out of life?
- What makes you happy?
- What makes you stressed?
- How can you get your work/life balance back?
They might seem like easy questions to answer, but some were really hard. The first two were easy to answer:
- My ex and I wanted different things. Throughout the last few years of our marriage we grew apart. Ultimately, we are both happier today than we were in the end. Yes, there is more to it, but this is the short answer.
- I moved to North Carolina because I needed a fresh start. I needed my own identity, a place where I didn’t have to live in the shadows of various family members who seemed to know everyone and vice versa. I needed to spread my wings, my independence, and increase my self-confidence. I also needed the warmer weather to lessen the side effects I still have from chemotherapy years ago.
The last four questions were harder for me to answer, hence the reason it took me so long to come to a decision on my career.
- I am looking for happiness and love out of life. I thought I had found love not too long ago, but it was not meant to be. While overall I am happy, I know that my career has me unhappy so I need to rectify that part of my life.
- There are a lot of things that make me happy. My cats always make me happy (even when they are mischievous). Other things that make me happy include socializing, friends, painting pottery, making candy, essential oils, watching a movie or TV show, writing, reading, and learning new things. In the past four months, I have not done a lot that makes me happy due to busy work schedule.
- There are a lot of things that make me stressed. Stress is not always bad. There is good stress and bad stress. The good stress helps with the fight or flight when you get into a certain situation. The bad stress is the one that needs to be fixed in my life. The majority of the stress I have in my life is caused by my own personal issues. I have the need to be perfect and to be the best. I push myself to the point of health issues. I am typically this way in a work environment. I know in a personal/social environment I am not perfect or the best and I accept that, but put me in a work situation and that is the way I am. I have tried to change over the years, but I always revert back. It usually happens when I start working longer hours, my expectations of myself and owners/bosses expectations of me grow because I am achieving so much. But neither of us realize the sacrifice in my personal life while I am in this mode. It’s very similar to an addiction, I can’t stop and I work myself up until the stress practically kills me.
- How to get a work/life balance was the toughest question of all to answer and took me several weeks to realize what I need. The answer was simple, but not so simple, which is to go into business for myself. You are asking yourself right now, “how is that going to get a work/life balance back into your life?” Good question and I asked myself that same thing. If I start a business doing what I love to do and what relaxes me, then I am getting a work life balance.
Reading this you’re thinking, “I guess she isn’t going to take the second fork in the road.” The second fork was looking for another job. You’d be half right. I am still throwing my resume out into the corporate world because you never know when that perfect job might just come knocking. In the meantime, I am going to concentrate on the things I love doing and try to make a business out of them. I have helped so many businesses improve their bottom line over the years and grow that it’s time for me to make something happen for myself. I love business so why not build my own empire.
Now you are curious to know what business I am looking to get into. Well, there are three. The first one is building up this blog and the associated Facebook page, Life After Lemons, for my many followers. Right now, I post about every two to three weeks on this blog. I do try to post little thoughts and pictures on the Life After Lemons Facebook page more often. I want to be able to help you all with getting over your lemons and moving on to your life after lemons.
The second is selling essential oils. I have really gotten to love essential oils over the past nine months. I went to a class to learn about them, bought a starter kit, and I’ve been hooked ever since. They are helping to support my healthier lifestyle and wellbeing. Plus, when you put them in a diffuser, the smells are fantastic. I built a Facebook page for my love of oils called: Every Day with EO. I am working on the website.
The third potential business is making and selling designer chocolate lollipops. I love creating them. I posted on the Life After Lemons Facebook page a photo of the lollipops I did for Valentine’s Day (also included photo in this post). While these particular molds did not have the intricate detail like my Christmas ones (picture in this post), they still show what I can do creatively. I use things like toothpicks to get all the elaborate detail on the lollipops. In doing some research, I can not only sell them online, but I can sell them for parties such as birthday’s, bridal showers, graduation, and baby showers. This has been a dream of mine since I started making candy when I was 12. When I am working on the lollipops I do not think about anything else so it relaxes me. I am concentrating on the detail instead of thinking about stressful things. I have a few hurdles to overcome on this part of the plan, but I am confident I will figure it all out. I still need to come up with a catchy name that isn’t already taken.
I am not going to lie to you all, I am scared. However, I am also excited about this next chapter in my life. You know that I’m always speaking of getting over fears. It takes courage to leave a well-paying corporate job and try making it on your own. This is where several people I know are going to say I’m out of my mind. They can say all they want, but ultimately this is my life to live. If I fail, I’ll pick myself up, dust myself off and try again. Failure teaches you what you did wrong so the next time, you do it the right way. I used to be afraid of failure, but it is one of life’s lessons that we all need to experience in order to move on to the success. It will make the success even that much better.
If you have a dream, figure out how to pursue it. Do not regret things when you get to your death bed. Live the life you were meant to live and you will be happy. Don’t let fear rule you. I will post about my journey along the third road, the road less traveled.
The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubt if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.