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How to get off life's conveyor belt

Let me know if this sounds familiar. You go to school and you do well in certain subjects, therefore you elect to study this further at university. You finish university and find a job which is relevant to your degree. Maybe you didn't particularly love the subject, but hey, this is what you have so you keep going. You didn't rack up a pile of student debt to then go work for minimum wage somewhere, amiright? You find a job, it's interesting enough. You're not sure what else to do, so you stay. You feel like it's about time that you bought a house. Rent is just throwing money away right? Best get on the property ladder. So you start saving. But those house prices right??! Better push for a promotion and get those pennies.

There's an opening at your work for a promotion, more money is got to be better for you right? So you apply and what luck! You get it, well done you clever little sausage.

The promotion has more stress and more responsibility. You work more hours and the stress levels go up, but enjoy watching the money in the bank. Things are happening, it's all good, right?

You aren't particularly liking the job so you start looking around for something else; you've got more experience so it should be easier to make a change. But wait! You've bought a house so are limited as to where you can work otherwise the commute will be super long and what about those fuel prices, amiright? You found something else that's similar, but much of the same that you didn't really like before. But now you have bills to pay and a wedding to pay for and then probably it's time to think about making a little family. So you keep going, there's more promotions, you take them.

It feels good to be important and needed but at the pit of your stomach, there's a feeling. Except it's not a feeling, it's an emptiness. A gap between who you are and who you hoped you could be.

It's human nature to take the path of least resistance. We are inclined to take the opportunities which require the least cognitive work. I've done it myself! I've stayed in jobs, relationships and countries because I had no idea what else I was supposed to do. I know for sure that I have wasted years. YEARS!

Our society gives us the conveyor belt of life and so many of us are stuck on it feeling that there's no chance to stop or change direction. There's so much fear in veering off course.

But once you realise you are on the belt, then you can start to make choices. At 18 I knew that the degree I was studying wasn't the right one, so I changed it At 23 I knew that Scotland was not going to have the career opportunities I wanted, so I left At 30 I knew that the relationship I was in was harmful to my mental health, so I broke it off At 36 I knew that my career could be improved with a move to China, so I asked for a secondment At 41 I knew that I wasn't going to be fulfilled trying to find another job in engineering management, so I started my own business In the multiverse of Tracy, my life would have been very different had I not made these decisions. Would I have been happy? Hell. No. I have not regretted any of these choices; it took me off the conveyor belt and into quite the unconventional life. This comes with its own set of disadvantages, mostly around judgement from others. It could be so easy for me to follow societal norms and tick the life boxes, but I know what I value most and what will make me happy and fulfilled. There are some skills that our peers and family can't always teach us; maybe they're too scared to get off the conveyor belt themselves. But in my life I've seen friends take a year out to try something completely new, move to another country, buy a plot of land to build their dream home, put their heart on the line. So for me it is more normal to do something big. But I know that this is not the case for everyone. Much like going to university or attending courses to improve skills, I've invested in learning about myself through coaching and counselling. I've been using them sporadically for 15 years and I'm not ashamed to say it.

At first I thought of it as 'needing help', but now I see it as having skills to complete a transformation… almost like I'm a product needing an upgrade.

Especially in the last year, I've noticed my ability to process complex situations and emotions and I'm happy to tell my counselor what I did, instead of being completely overwhelmed and needing her guidance. With every big change, another one seems not so bad. I'm building my business and I have a lot to learn, but I welcome it, I enjoy using my brain. I know I can do it and it gives me confidence to do it again and again until I build the life that works for me, not for anyone else. How would you want to use that support?


5 biggest mistakes destroying women's confidence at work.... and how to fix them.

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