Four Things to Remember When Giving Up a Career

As a young child, I always knew I wanted to become a nurse. I went through a period of denial in my late teens because that is just what teenagers do. They shy away from things that people tell them they should do. But I finally gave in and decided nursing was the path I should be on.

Focus on my health

I finished my associate's degree in nursing, my bachelor's degree in nursing and had even begun the journey of getting my master's in nursing education. Then all of a sudden in 2012 everything changed. My health deteriorated and in a few short years, I had to give up the job I loved.

Leaving my heart patients was something I never wanted to do, but lupus came around and had other plans. Because of my health, I had no other choice but to give up my career. A doctor and Mayo Clinic looked me in the eyes and said “If you don’t stop working you are going to work yourself right into the ground.” So that’s what I did. I gave up my career to focus on my health.

Lessons learned

Making big, earth-shattering decisions like leaving your career can be hard to accept. But as I left the nursing field not once, but twice, I have learned a few important lessons.

Give yourself some grace

It will be hard to adjust to your “new” routine. A routine that used to include getting ready for work, resting on your days off, and planning activities around your schedule. Now it will revolve around how you are feeling. There will be a lot more resting and a whole lot less working and stressing. During the first few months, it will be important for you to be kind to yourself and to give yourself some grace. Giving up a career is NOT an easy decision.

Be open and honest

Be open and honest about how you are doing with those closest to you. It is easy when we are stressed to internalize everything. To hold things in so you don’t burden those closest to you. In most cases, those people are the ones who really want to know what is going on and how you are adjusting. We can’t expect people to understand what we are dealing with if we never open up to them. 

Learn to listen to your body

When I was working, listening to my body was likely one of the last things on my list. It was more important that I complete the daily tasks at work than to think about how my body was feeling. Once you are no longer working you have the time and space to really listen to your body.  So try and stay in-tune with your body and work to figure out what your body needs.

Balance and mental health

Find a way to balance your new life and your mental health. This is going to be different for everyone. For some, it will include talking with a therapist. For others, it will include things like taking a walk, doing yoga, or spending time meditating. We all put so much energy into our physical health that our mental health and well-being often get out on the back burner. But during any major life change, it is essential that we also take time to focus on our mental health.

Kindness and grace

Most people will never have to think about what life will look like with a chronic illness. Nor will they have to figure out what life looks like without their career. But for those who do need to remember that without good physical and mental health we wouldn’t have that career at all. So if this is something you have to deal with at one time try to remember to be kind to yourself. Lean in and feel all the things while also giving yourself some grace.

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