Photo Credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters, Unsplash.com

Written by Lauren Ammon
January 15, 2020

  • Top 10% of high school class. Check.
  • Full scholarship to Division I swimming program. Check.
  • Political Science Student of the Year. Check.
  • Bachelor of Science, Political Science. Check.
  • Full scholarship to master’s program plus a paid TA position and internship. Check.
  • Master of Art, Human Resources. Check.
  • Well-paid HR position secured six weeks before graduation. Yes, please!

By the time I started my first day, I was living the dream. I’d worked so hard to get to that point and the reward for doing so had been granted. I was so excited and ready to start my adult life!

Six months into that first “real” job I was indifferent. I felt a weird mix of boredom and anxiety over the most mundane, everyday things. I couldn’t shake the feeling of being out of place; like I didn’t belong.

Something as simple as providing a summary of what I’d worked on for the last two weeks seemed so complicated. I couldn’t collect my thoughts, and when I did, I stumbled. I was incoherent. I started to doubt my intelligence and capability. Why did I feel so awkward? This is what I went to school for–why did it feel so wrong? 

I didn’t know any better so I just assumed it was the “first-big-kid-job” jitters. Surely everyone felt misplaced the first few months on the job. Lots to learn, new people to get used to, new rules to abide by. “This too shall pass,” became my motivational mantra. 

Living in the Mundane

Three years went by and nothing passed. I was still bored and oddly uneasy despite increased responsibilities and promotions along the way. In the rare moments I gave it a conscious thought, I rationalized the uneasiness with external factors.

About a year into the job, the economy tanked. I took a pay cut and continually worried about my job security for the next several months. Shortly thereafter I got married and had a child. Of course I felt anxious and uneasy. Who wouldn’t? I went through significant cycles of change in the blink of an eye. It was enough to make anyone feel out of sorts. 

To help bypass my boredom and anxiety, I got a new job. It was a higher HR position that reported to a former boss. I absolutely adored her and connected with the work and mission of the company. I was thrilled and re-energized! There was no way I’d fall into the same awkwardly-bored state.

Within months, I was completely disinterested. Though at the time, I was so deeply connected with my peers and coworkers I didn’t consciously recognize it. I was so excited to interact and learn from them that I didn’t think twice about being completely disconnected from the actual work. I just kept plugging away with 

an underlying discomfort. Taking notice randomly, but pushing it aside just as quickly. 

Seven more years passed with several new positions and promotions culminating in becoming the HR Director for a $400M company (Woohoo!). I was responsible for an entire HR department. I made it to the upper echelon of leadership. Who wouldn’t want that? 

Me. I didn’t want it. I didn’t want any of it with every fiber of my being. One day my skin started to crawl during a discussion about talent acquisition metrics. I physically started to itch as if the world’s insect population instantaneously consumed me at that moment. I remember screaming to myself, “I couldn’t care less! This is mind-numbingly boring! Please stop talking about time to fill before I hurt someone!”

I physically, mentally, and emotionally couldn’t bear to talk about anything HR-related any longer.

The “Supposed-To” Trap

Wait, what just happened? Why wasn’t I happier?! What was wrong?! I did everything I was supposed to do . . . went to college, got good grades, found a good job, rose through the corporate ranks. This was supposed to be it! 

BAM! There it was. My entire life was what I was “supposed to do.” The storm clouds of boredom and misalignment parted instantaneously in that a-ha moment and the blinding sunshine of clarity shown through. 

Hindsight being 20/20, my intuition figured out a long time ago that my boredom and lack of fulfillment had something to do with living a life of what’s expected versus one I truly wanted. But my rational and emotional sides didn’t know how to reconcile it.

Neither my brain nor my heart saw any other options, so my intuition was buried to stay the course of what I started. My moment of clarity was so deep and so genuine, it was as if my intuition was screaming so that it wouldn’t be ignored any longer.

What’s Your Intuition Saying? 

Fast forward to the present day.

I’m a certified professional coach. I retired from corporate America and opened a leadership development practice to support young professionals in identifying their ideal path and implementing plans for getting there to minimize misalignment and lack of fulfillment in the next generation of leaders. I’ve never felt more like myself, having stepped into my unique power and personal fortitude to forge the life I want. 

While everything I’ve gone through has provided a great deal of anguish, confusion, and internal turmoil, it’s also provided tremendous personal insight and a precise message for moving forward:

“When intuition hits, take a moment to pause and listen”

It’s surfacing to shed light on something that logic and/or emotion isn’t yet ready nor able to handle. There may be no empirical evidence that success is imminent or even likely, but for the sake of sanity, well-being, and genuine fulfillment, there’s an obligation to explore the uncertainty, to unearth its probability of making a difference.

No one is immune to life’s low points, but we’re all unlimited in our capacity to overcome them once we firmly believe in our power to rewrite what we once thought was the optimal course.

Photo Credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters, Unsplash.com