Choosing to be happy

People rarely acknowledge the importance of responsibility in decision making, and when they do, it’s likely that something has gone awry. Think of the parent chastising their teenager for choosing to socialise over spending time with the family: ‘Young lady, go to your room and think about what you’ve done; take some responsibility for your choices!’. But equally important is the responsibility we take for the choices we make that go right, that bring us happiness, that move us forward. Today I’m sharing with you (the world) a choice I made recently that took me forward towards happiness.

It was a Friday afternoon two weeks ago when I caught my boss’ eye; somehow he knew we were about to have ‘that’ conversation he didn’t want to hear. I had made a choice. It was a brave choice. Heck, it was a ballsy choice.

After several successful years at one of the world’s largest professional services firms, I chose to step away. Not to join a competitor, not to take a more attractive salary, but to change my career ‘lane’ entirely. The consulting world was probably my oyster – if I’d chosen to, I could have commanded a terrific career trajectory with all of the perks. But that Friday I made the choice to downsize to a simple life of creativity. From a more-than-full-time well-paying consulting job in an area I love with a great team, to a home office and a blinking cursor on the first page of a book that may or may not ever get written. From a highly-resourced global firm to a small home studio and a freelance design business. From a bustling office to a modest home with my beloved and a puppy.

To outsiders, and even to those who know me (but perhaps not as well as they think), it may seem like a bold move to leave the promise of great material wealth behind, but that boldness is exactly why it feels right. It may even seem irresponsible to leave a seemingly ideal and secure professional position for nothing even remotely comparable. Believe me, I take responsibility for the choice to be happy and I am proud of it. Not everyone has the choice to do this; but I do, and it feels right.

The choices we make in life have a compound effect – this seemingly radical choice to leave corporate life is not the first choice, it’s just simply another in a long line of choices that are crafting the story of my life. Perhaps it may seem radical to some because it would be if it were their next choice; but remember that compound effect. I have consciously chosen to live simply and avoid debt. I have always been happy with few material goods. Reading a great book makes me feel just as good (and as rich) as others feel when they have a win on the horses. I have chosen not to have children. And so I take responsibility for the hard work I know is ahead after choosing to pursue an unconventional route that is true to my character: creative and brave.

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