And maybe, just maybe, there’s happiness there if you make it to the deep end.
But you need to dive in and find that thing that makes your heart sing—whether it’s teaching surfing in Costa Rica or writing the great American novel.
In many ways, this is a life cleanse for the soul, an unexpected detox from a stressful and unfulfilled life.
In the past, these pursuits seemed frivolous and a bit clichéd: Burned-out career type throws it all away and tries to write the next "Great Gatsby". Cut to today. If you can make that happen, it’s applauded as a way out of corporate life and uncertainty. We’ve seen a mass exodus of ad guys start new ventures that speak to who they are (Alex Bogusky, for one). And we’ve even seen hugely successful titans of business do a seismic career shift (take Cathie Black, former chairwoman of Hearst Magazines, who left publishing behind to become chancellor of the New York City school system). So maybe it’s not leaving work completely but brushing off some tools you didn’t know you had in your toolbox or adding others to build the new and improved you.
David Arrick, for instance, was a laid-off New York City lawyer who went on to start Butch Bakery, a delectable spot for cupcakes for men with such flavors as Beer Run and Jackhammer. He had an “aha” moment one day while walking through the West Village wondering how men could fit into the cupcake craze. Now he’s got a fabulous business, all because something he thought he would do forever was not to be. Had he been lulled into submission by his tried-and-true job, he would never have started a successful business doing something he really enjoys.
It’s all about the “aha” moment—whether it comes to you while you’re still under somebody else’s Seiko or you suddenly find yourself with a lot of time on your hands to really go for what you love. Dominique Browning, the former editor of "House & Garden",went through a severe depression when she was made redundant. Then she wrote a book, "Slow Love", to talk about grieving for the job you lost but taking the time to rediscover the things in life you might have missed along the way, and to be gentle with yourself. Needless to say, the book is a huge success and Browning has been able to grow spiritually and financially from it.
And think of the popularity of Eat Pray Love, in which the author, Elizabeth Gilbert (played by a glowy Julia Roberts in the film version), leaves all that she has (husband and job) to travel the world in search of happiness, enlightenment and love. I’m sure many of us were fantasizing about leaving all we have to find so much more. True, Gilbert’s decision to drop out was her own and not made for her, but it’s still a great example of how the human spirit can triumph when it is taken out of its comfort zone and given pasta in Italy.
When Obama spoke of change, it was not only a political platform but also a universal awakening. As millions around the globe are being forced to (re)discover what makes their blood pump, there is no hitting the snooze button on reinvention.
Marian Salzman is president of Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, North America. Named one of the world’s top five trendspotters, Salzman is best known for launching metrosexual mania in 2003, but she also created several other buzzes, including “the rise of singletons,” “It’s America Online,” Europe’s cyberspoon, globesity and “sleep is the new sex.” Author or co-author of 15 books, including Next Now and The Future of Men, she currently blogs on the Huffington Post, for the World Future Society, and at eurorscgpr.com and eurorscgsocial.com.