Bennis Inc. | A Month of Independence: A reflection of where one month has led me since my biggest life change
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A Month of Independence: A reflection of where one month has led me since my biggest life change

A Month of Independence: A reflection of where one month has led me since my biggest life change

It’s been once month since my blog post Independence Day which received a lot of encouragement and words of wisdom. Having declared July 15th as my personal independence day has provided me with a date and a benchmark that I will forever be able to look back on and see where one month, one year or ten years has taken me since that life-changing and life-defining moment.

My last memory of leaving my cubicle on July 15th. Even when I was working there, it looked just about the same.

One month ago was my last day of work with the Department of Health. Nothing had really changed for me yet. I was still working a desk job and sitting in the same cubicle I had occupied for the last 6 months. My desk had been completely cleaned since the week prior—in fact I never really moved-in. It’s almost like when you’re renting an apartment and don’t even both to hang photos on the wall because it never quite feels like home. That job wasn’t my career. I must have subconsciously sensed it since day one.

After a wonderful and somewhat sad lunch spent with my co-workers for the last time, my boss told me to take off early. Really, my responsibilities had become irrelevant since my 2-week notice, so I walked out of the Department with the remainder of my desk in a single bag and I feel somewhat cold to admit I didn’t look back. I miss the people I worked with terribly. Even in my short time there, I made a family out of my colleagues. I owe them a visit this week—and really I have no excuse. I live 3 blocks from the Capitol complex where I used to work.

The weeks following that day were a whirlwind to say the least and my blog acts as a journal that reflects the highlights as to what I’ve been through. On July 20th I immediately picked up and took a week to travel. I spent time in Chicago and Miami visiting cities I had never been to before and for no better reason other than I just didn’t make the time. I knew a week out-of-pocket was going to cause work to pile up when I came home, but nothing could prepare me for what I returned to. I felt out of control, like I was treading water but not nearly fast enough to keep my head above the surface. I wanted to get everything on my to-do list done at once which is neither feasible nor necessary. That amount of stress may have shaved a year or two off my life, but it also led me to write the blog post Strive for Progress, Not Perfection which has become my new mantra and has really helped me to re-center my priorities.

After that week and a half of extreme stress, frustration and doubt, I’ve found my stride. I relied a lot on the people close to me to keep my chin up and work through the confusion and negativity I felt. I’ve added 3 new clients to my business and have a growing list of potentials I’ll be pitching to in the coming weeks and months. It’s a balancing act for sure. I may be my own boss now, but I have to juggle the needs of many different clients and sometimes they seem to pile up all at once. I keep a huge whiteboard that works as a fluid to-do list where I can assign the “must-get-done” tasks to each day and visually, it helps to keep me focused and from becoming overwhelmed. I’m developing a lot of other time structuring tools that help me to maximize my efficiency and believe or not, make some time for non work-related things. But that will have to be a blog post for another day…

If where I am today is any indication of where I’ll be and what I’ll feel 6 months or 6 years from now, I’m ready to embrace each day from now until then. I know it will be a rollercoaster ride with dips of stress and frustration and stomach-tickling highs of progress and pride, but it’s going to be a fun ride for sure.

Stephanie Shirley

stephanie@bennisinc.com