My best friend at work resigned today. After months and months of “should I or shouldn’t I?”, she finally said “I’m done here.” She has lupus, an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue. While she has not had a flare-up in months, she realized that her health was more important and that she would rather focus on her art full time. So, good-bye stress and office politics!
I have known her for almost 15 years and I knew that this decision to leave did not come easy. Lots of sleepless nights and doubts about whether she can finally make the leap to the art world full time. There were good days and not-so-good days but lately, it may have been more of the not-so-good days.
When I did ask her what finally pushed her to make the decision, it was not that she had shrewdly played the stock market and she was financially secure in her decision to quit, but more of avoiding the stress of quarter-ends (which always made her lupus flare up) and that she was at her happiest when she was making art (encaustic paintings). “Life is too short. Do something that makes you happy”, she said.
Retire at 45, what a grand concept!
Like a good accountant, she had crunched the numbers and did her risk analysis, quantitatively and qualitatively, leaving no thought unturned between her left brain and right brain.
If I were in her brain, I think this conversation would have happened:
Left brain: “Am I nuts? No steady flow of income? What if I live to be a hundred–am I going to have enough money? What about the social interaction–won’t I be missing that? I will miss the office and friends–networking will be more difficult”.
Right brain: “Right on! Now I can be the best that I can be! If necessary, I can just live off dreams of apple blossoms and rays of sunshine…that would look pretty, yes?”
Left Brain: “Apple blossoms and daydreams? If it has a dollar sign in front of it, sure!”
Right Brain: “Art makes me happy….now I can do more…and sell more.”
Left Brain: “How about day to day expenses? Medical insurance? Dental care? Trust fund for Sunny? He is only 11 years old but he may want to go to university? It will be expensive.”
Right brain: “That is taken care of–took that into consideration when you crunched the numbers, remember?”
Left Brain: “What if….?”
Right brain: “So ‘what if’…?”
Left Brain: “I’M SCARED.”
Right brain: “It will be alright. If we don’t do this now, we will regret it forever…”
At some point, the left and right would have finally agreed and taken the right course of action: to be happy.
I must admit, I am a little envious of my best friend having the courage to walk away from a well-paying job and step into a world of uncertainty. I wish her all the best and knowing her, I am absolutely sure she will do well in her new adventure.
As for those of us left behind, the ripple of her leaving is already being felt in all parts of the team. She will be sorely missed. However, most of the topics of conversations around the water cooler were ” Retirement at 45 is possible?! Really?” and “What makes me happy? I should really plan for it..and plan well.”
So, the question that you should ask yourself “If I were on my death bed, would I wish that I had spent more time in the office….or more time dreaming about apple blossoms and rays of sunshine?”