This is raw and unfiltered. I've intentionally left this unedited so the emotion and experience can be shared fully.
My heart was beating fast. It wasn't exactly pounding but something was definitely happening.
Was it nervousness? Was it excitement? Was it the anticipation of finally doing something I had been planning for a year and a half?
It could have been all these things…or none of them. It didn't matter.
“Here's my letter of resignation” I said without knowing what to expect. I had never done this before so I didn't know how it worked.
Would I be asked to pack up my things and be escorted out of the building? Did I get a packet of “here's what you need to know when you quit your job” and an exit interview scheduled with HR?
Just a lot of genuine questions from my boss about where I was going, what I was doing, had I thought this through fully (oh yeah) and how Melinda was feeling about all this.
And in the middle of our conversation my nose started bleeding. Why was my nose bleeding? My nose never bleeds. Was my body freaking out on me?
No matter. We talked about my transition plan and then I told a couple of co-workers about my resignation and future path. One of them thought I was logical and confident. The other one thought I was crazy.
Not madhouse crazy but more like “what the hell happened to the guy in Operations I used to know two years ago?” crazy. Where was the trace of the man I used to be? The one who valued stability and comfort over almost everything else.
Who was this guy intentionally seeking risk and uncertainty?
Excited and Peaceful Thoughts
I sent some texts to friends and family on the bus ride home from work. They mostly read like “holy sh*t! It's done. That…just…happened“.
Wasn't it just last night that I was playing out how the day would unfold?
Last night was beautiful. Full of promise. Full of excitement.
Maybe it was the gently falling snow on a calm winter night. Maybe it was the quiet of the neighborhood only briefly interrupted by kids shooting hockey pucks or a random dog barking. My walk with the dogs last night was serene.
A sense of clarity and purpose was settling in. As far as my brain was concerned it was just me, the dimly lit streets, two dogs and the rest of my life up for grabs.
I sent a number of texts to friends and family when I got back from the walk. “Holy sh*t! I'm resigning tomorrow and this is really happening!”
I called my parents and spoke with my mom for half an hour about what was to come. How should this all work out? As I hung up, a comment from mom stayed with me about how many people care for me and support me. She's right. I've been a ridiculously fortunate person.
Then I got into bed and snuggled Melinda. My mind wasn't racing like I thought it might be. My heart was at peace.
I thought about how this would all play out over the next couple of weeks as I drifted to sleep. What does life look and feel like on March 3rd, the first day of being self-employed?
Was I really going to leave a job – with total compensation pushing into the six figures – to make zero dollars for a period of time?
Was I really comfortable measuring future success not by the money I made but by the impact and value I brought to people's lives?
Yes. Yes I was.
The rest of the answers would not come that night. I knew they would unfold over the next month, year, decade and lifetime.
And if this turned out to be one hell of a mistake, I remembered that there is a chance to reverse everything in life except death.
Fast forward to walking home from the bus stop after resigning. I saw Melinda in the garage getting Grant out of his car seat as I turned the corner to our street. I had envisioned what our collective reaction would be on the day I came home from work after resigning.
Would I unleash a primal scream of joy? Would acknowledging the end of a personal era be bittersweet?
As I slipped on the only patch of ice in the driveway and gracefully picked myself off the pavement, we had a good laugh. Grant thought that papa's fall was HI-larious. Looks like the collective reaction was playing out differently than I imagined.
The events of the day were recounted over dinner. I recapped my conversation with my boss, his reaction and my interaction with my coworkers. I told Melinda I made sure to strongly note to everyone that this wouldn't be possible without the support, guidance and love from her.
As I cleaned up some dishes and took the dogs for a walk, I thought about the paths ahead. Would I be leading people down their own beautiful paths? Who would lead me on my journey into the unknown?
What I Want
What I wanted were partners. I wanted people to join me on a path where nobody was concerned about who was leading and who was following. I wanted people who would walk beside me, supporting each other and sharing the knowledge and skills that made us all better and more useful to the world.
Then I remembered there were many people besides Melinda who deserved credit for helping me get to a place where all this becomes real. The plan has been executed but the run up to it was long and rewarding.
Right before I fell asleep I laughed to myself. Two years from now, after people could see with their own eyes the business and community I was trying to grow – after it stopped being abstract and was something real – I'd remember with a chuckle how I thought people would never understand.
How I thought they would never understand where I was going. Why I wanted to go “there.” How I was going to get there. What my new work mission in life had become.
Many years from now, this period of major transition won't look so major anymore. It will look like a pivot. Like a rational path to become something more, something different, something valuable…something free.
But as I fell asleep, the weight of the resignation hung heavily in my brain. Yet after all is said and done, this might not be such a big deal.
But right now, this is a really big frickin' deal. And it's not just my really big frickin' deal. It's mine and all those who helped make this happen.
Please share this with others if you feel inspired by it or need someone else to know this kind of thing is possible (and happens all the time).