Alright, I’ve been keeping something big from you for a little while now. But, I’m finally ready to share with you just what’s been going on in my personal life. On August 5th, just a couple of weeks back, I quit my job in healthcare after working in the field for 17 years. Yeah, I still kind of can’t believe that I actually did it. And to be honest, it still doesn’t quite feel real. It kind of just feels like I’m on some sort of extended vacation. But this wasn’t just some decision that I made on a whim, it’s something that I’ve been planning and working towards for a few years now.
I want to take you a little ways back in my journey so that you get the full picture of how I’ve landed to where I am today. So you know the kids that graduate high school, immediately go to college, have a direction, and then land a job in the field they studied? Yeah, that wasn’t me, and I always knew it wouldn’t be. I graduated high school, had no idea what direction to take, and college scared the bejesus out of me. I was always the kid who, when asked what they want to be when they grow up, would feel overwhelmingly scared because not one thing came to mind.
But luckily, I have a very smart mom who encouraged (well, rather forced) me to go to a local community college and get an associates degree in liberal studies (or in literally anything). And so I did. That was, after failing multiple classes and it taking me 6 years to graduate. At least I did it, right? So to back up a little, while I was in high school, I got my first job working in the kitchen of a local hospital. Then, I shifted into working in administrative roles within healthcare clinics soon after. First in medical records, then as a receptionist, then in quality assurance, then as a secretary, then when I was 26-years-old, with only an associates degree, I landed my first leadership job as a supervisor for a large hospital organization in Massachusetts.
I was so proud of myself for working my way, you know, “up the ladder.” Growing up poor, I saw healthcare as a big opportunity. One that could provide financial stability, growth, and continuing opportunities. So after being in the supervisor role for just about a year, I decided to go back to college to pursue a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management so that I could keep hustling and eventually work my way to the top. And before I even graduated with my bachelor’s, I had landed a job as a practice manager of a Neurosurgery and Spine clinic. And then shortly after, I graduated from college with highest honors.
And at that time, you could say I thought I had made it. I was so proud of myself for everything that I had accomplished. But soon after starting my job as a practice manager, like all of the other jobs I had had, I quickly felt bored of it. But this time, instead of just moving onto the next, bigger and better thing, I began questioning my path entirely. So many days, I remember coming home from work, not feeling fulfilled, inspired, or even happy, and thinking… This can’t be it. And of course I remember thinking… I can’t believe that I went back to school. I can’t believe that I worked my butt off to get my bachelor’s degree. What am I even doing?
And I remember at the time, I had a conversation with a mentor of mine and I shared with him how I had been feeling, and he said something that left such a bad taste in my mouth. He said, “If this work isn’t fulfilling you, you’ve gotta find something out of work that you’re passionate about, something that you really love so that you can get what you need outside of here.” And at the time, I translated this advice to… Not only do you have to work your butt off during the day, you have to then go home and find something you’re passionate about and do that, so that you can feel what you’re wanting to feel.
Needless to say that at the time, I felt so hopeless. I thought I knew my path. I thought I had finally figured it all out. Healthcare was it. So, what did I do? Well, I just kept going. I thought, maybe if I just keep jumping to the next bigger and better thing, it’ll all work out. So I went to an interview for a director level job. I thought… This will be so good for me. I’ll be making six figures. I’ll have financial security, and I already know it’s something that I’m good at. And I remember leaving that interview thinking… I don’t want this! What the heck are you doing, Shannon?
And finally, I knew I had to stop running, and I knew that I had to stop and really answer this question. What am I doing? And I had to answer it honestly. I knew that I didn’t want to keep going on the path that I was on. I wanted to abort mission entirely, but I was so freaking scared to even think of doing something else. I would think… But this is safe. Healthcare is safe. You know it, you’ll always be able to find a job in it, and you’ll always have a good paycheck.
And then I got the call… The call that offered me the job that was the next move up the ladder. And I battled with this decision, hard. Like really hard. But deep down, I knew that if I chose this path, I was only choosing it because it was safe, because it was comfortable. I wasn’t choosing it because it would make me feel fulfilled or joyful. Soooo, I turned it down. Yup, I turned down a really well-paying job, one that lots of people wanted.
And soon after this, I went back to the words that my mentor had shared with me years earlier, and I knew that there had to be something to it. And of course, there was. His advice wasn’t… Find something you’re passionate about and do that, on top of working a job that doesn’t light you up for the rest of your life. His advice was simply… Find something you’re passionate about, because maybe that thing will turn into your work. And this was something I could get on board with.
I remember telling myself… Shannon, you need to find something you’re passionate about. And of course, I had no idea where to look or what to do. It was as if I was graduating high school all over again. It felt like I had no ideas, direction, or path. But at least at age 32, I was wise enough to know that I didn’t have to have an entire vision to start taking action and creating a path. And as I sat in a tattoo shop, getting a tattoo, I remember talking some of this through with my tattoo artist - and a quick shoutout to Pete Lavigne at Hallowed Ground in Portland. If you’re ever in the Portland-Maine area, I highly recommend him. I told Pete that I’ve always loved to write. And he said to me… Why don’t you look into copywriting? And I went home and thought to myself… Why would I write copy for someone else when I could write my own stuff and share my own story?
And guess what… Yeah, soon after, the A Healthy Push platform was created! Amelia had just turned 1, and I was so excited to start this new and exciting journey. A journey that I had no idea would lead me to where I am today. And it has been so incredibly hard, scary, and full of tears. Like, I look back on my first posts and videos and I cringe, like so hard. But I also smile because I still can’t believe that I was brave enough to create A Healthy Push and start sharing my story. And I mean, I share things that I was certain I’d never share with anyone, some things not even with my closest family members.
So 3 years after starting my blog, and then launching my online courses, and then launching the podcast you’re listening to now, and then starting my coaching services, I set a date and I called it quits on the healthcare field. And yes, I actually looked at a calendar and chose a date (which was chosen kind of randomly), and I gave my notice to my boss a month before that date. And thank goodness my husband pushed me to do this, because I don’t know if I would have done it without his endless support, encouragement, and his strong belief in me.
And by calling it quits on the healthcare field, I’ve finally been able to fully step into my passion, and it honestly feels so amazing. And although it’s amazing and incredibly exciting, I’m also still a little scared. I’m scared of all of the unknowns. I’m scared of just what this will all look like. I’m scared of being on my own. I’m scared of having to figure it all out. I’m scared of not having the financial stability that the corporate world offers. But I’ll take this type of scary any day! Because the other type of scary that I was facing, was being scared that my life couldn’t look any differently, and me not even trying.
Overall, I wish I had walked away from healthcare sooner. I wish I would have been more courageous. I wish I would have trusted in myself and my capabilities more. If I could go back a year or two, I would have been even more courageous. I would have taken even bigger leaps. I would have done lots more leaning into uncertainty. I would have pushed myself, in a healthy way of course, just a little more.
Because a huge part of what’s helped me to push myself in all of this, is knowing that I have a little girl watching me, my 4-year-old daughter, Amelia. And I want her to know how important it is to be courageous, and brave, and lean into uncertainty. I want her to feel scared and to just do the things anyway. I want her to see the endless opportunities in this world and to reach for every single one of them that sparks her interest. And of course, I want her to be proud of her mom. I want her to know that her mom always chose to be brave, to face the hard things, and how important it is to always give more than you take. Alright, now that I’m almost in full blown tears!
Here are some big lessons that have been reinforced for me, and also some new lessons that I’ve learned in making the decision to quit my job and fully step into my passion, and I think these things will be helpful for you, too!
You have to be willing to choose the type of scary and hard that is actually going to lead you to making progress. You have to be willing to choose the scary and hard that is actually going to lead to growth, and healing, and overcoming. Because the scary and hard that you’ve been choosing, isn’t at all helping to get you to where you want to be.
Oftentimes we think we’re keeping ourselves safe when we’re just keeping ourselves stuck. And by letting go of some of the safety nets, we actually allow ourselves to move forward and experience more peace and freedom.
Progress and growth doesn’t typically happen quickly. And although it can be frustrating as heck sometimes, slow growth is what sticks. Slow growth, progress, and healing is what leads to overcoming and thriving.
Sometimes you just gotta push yourself off of the cliff and have blind faith that you’ll fly. This means no creating backup plans, or waiting until you feel confident, or waiting until you feel like you have things figured out. Just take the leap and see what happens.
It’s okay to be scared of the unknown. The unknown is scary. And being scared of the unknown simply makes you human. But leaning into the unknown and embracing it allows you to see just how capable you are and how amazing your life can be. And you will surprise yourself time and time again in the unknowns. Because it’s in the unknowns we really get to grow, expand, and see who we really are and what we’re capable of.
It’s so important to go towards passion and towards your purpose, because once you do, it all becomes bigger than you. And yes, stepping into your purpose is still going to be hard, but it’s a type of hard that will have immense rewards.
And that last one… I just want to say, it’s so important that we allow ourselves to step into our purpose, even if it’s really scary, hard, and uncomfortable. I want to share something really cool with you before I end this episode. Just weeks before I quit my job, I was drinking a cup of tea in my little office, and there was a message on a Yogi tea bag that read: “Accept the challenge you are facing. It may become your greatest gift.” And yeah, it makes me cry to even read this message out loud. And I still can’t believe that this message landed in my lap at the time that it did.
This message couldn’t be more true. The challenges that we face in life are what teaches us lessons, and helps us to grow, and helps us to approach life differently and with more passion. And so often it helps us to approach others in ways that help us to better support and love each other. The 15-year struggle that I went through with anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia, landed me here. Pretty amazing, huh? And beautiful.
Every day, I think of you. Yes, you! You are why I show up here. You are worth every ounce of hard that I have faced. And this IS my greatest gift. And I know that you may not believe this right now, but what you’re struggling with right now will lead you to many gifts. And I can’t wait to witness you step into them.
Until next time, my friend! Keep taking healthy action.