“Happiness is a risk. If you’re not a little scared, you’re not doing it right.”
-Sarah Addison Allen, “The Peach Keeper”
I hold my breath as I click “send” on my work email. It is out of my hands now. I have sent my project to the senior leadership of my division. I glance periodically at my email throughout the day, waiting for a response. I reassure myself that I did the best I could, and I remind myself that constructive criticism is not a bad thing. When the response comes, I am both surprised and relieved. The email begins, “Love it!”
At the end of last year, I initiated a serious job search. I had been with a company for 4 ½ years. I was loyal and committed to my team, but I no longer felt I was making effective contributions. My growth had stagnated, and I was simply maintaining my responsibilities. I made decent money and knew what to expect every day at the office, but I was utterly bored. My mom pointed out that there is something good to be said for a cushy job, and while she is right, I was unhappy in my complacency. I had potential to be doing something more, something bigger.
After applying for jobs for a couple of months, I got an interesting offer. I’d only ever worked for small start-ups, but this offer came from a well-established international corporation. I had no experience in this particular industry, and I had little to no experience with some of the responsibilities associated with the position. It was unfamiliar territory.
I spent hours thinking about it and conferring with my husband and my parents. Was the job the right fit for me? Would it be better stay where I am in the realm that I know? Ultimately, I knew what to expect in my current role where I wasn’t happy, and I knew I needed a change. I accepted the job.
I was terrified to submit my resignation. I had anxiety all day, waiting for the moment I could talk with my boss. We were close, and I dreaded telling him I was leaving. It was hard, and there were tears on both sides of the table, but I did it.
The things that excite us are often the things that scare us as well. We change jobs, get married, have kids. We change cities, move out on our own or move in with someone new. All of these things are scary because they involve risk. They change our direction and send us towards the unknown where many things can go wrong. But so many things can also go right.
My job change could have been a disaster, and I was prepared for that outcome. I am now three months into it, and while it has been hard, I am enjoying the challenges. I am setting higher standards for myself and the work I produce. I am developing new skills and abilities that contribute to both my professional and personal growth. I am navigating these new waters and making my way towards a more gratifying professional life.
We take risks in our pursuit of happiness. We consider our options, and when the potential rewards outweighs the potential consequences, we take the plunge, hoping the outcome leads to better quality of living in some way.
The biggest and scariest decisions I’ve made thus far in my life are the ones that have led me down a path to a happier life. None of them were easy. All of them were terrifying. All of them required change. Change is hard, regardless of your willingness or your adaptability, but we do it in pursuit of better lives for ourselves.
We know what our lives are like currently. We can stay complacent or we can pursue happiness.
If it’s worth it, take the risk! Take it and don’t look back.