It’s March already and it roared in like a cranky polar bear. It was minus 56 with the wind chill on March 1st. Today is March 4th and it’s snowed all day. Beautiful fluffy flakes, but I’d rather sink bare toes into warm sand than socks and boots.

My escape from corporate life occurred seven months ago, which blows my mind. It amazes me how little you can do when you relax. I mean relax right down to those aforementioned toes. The only time I set an alarm clock is to go to the gym to meet with my personal trainer. And I do this for no other reason than the fact that I WANT to do it. The only meetings I go to are with an ad agency to design my logo and website, or to meet with a coaching client. In both instances, I enjoy the discussions. I don’t have any performance reviews to inflict on others, and I don’t have anyone else judging my output anymore. I can’t even begin to describe how free I feel.

A few people near and dear to me have lost their jobs recently. They’re younger and not in a position to work for themselves. The anxiety provoked by this turn of events is scary. I derived incredible satisfaction from my executive job and like them, lost sight of work’s place in my life. I equated who I was with what I did. With my title and responsibility and salary. When it disappeared, I was fine for a few months, and then went through a brief period where I missed the trappings and the support. Especially the IT support.

They say that leadership is a paradox. You need to simultaneously create a workplace environment where employees can thrive and feel engaged, while making sure that productivity is high and customer needs are met. The two aren’t always aligned. Success is a paradox too. If you’re working at something you excel at, where you feel that you make a difference, it’s easy to let work encroach more and more on one’s personal life and relationships.

If I had it to do all over again (you know you’re getting long in the tooth when you start sentences this way), the biggest thing I would have changed was how seriously I took everything. No matter how interesting, a job where you work for someone else is fraught with politics and issues that really don’t have a whole heck of a lot to do with customer satisfaction or employee engagement. It took me way too long to understand this. No job deserves the sacrifice of inner peace and relaxation. Yet many of us work for years in a state of high stress – often caused more by our reactions to events than the events themselves.

Now that I am completely removed from it all, I clearly see how little my fretting mattered. While you’re working for others, don’t sell your soul or erode your inner peace. Find a way to truly recharge and stay connected to what feeds your soul. And when you’re ready – financially, mentally and emotionally – jump. Sweet freedom awaits :)