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This is a guest submission by Emelie from Revellish.com

The snooze button on my black alarm clock is worn white because I dread Monday mornings. Just five more minutes… Please… Five more minutes before I drag myself from bliss to boredom.

For five days a week for the last eight years (that’s over 16,600 hours but who’s counting), I’ve spunspunspun in a corporate hamster wheel. The stressgarbage sprayed behind me as the wheel whirred faster… my feet struggled to keep up with the pace of the race.

I wondered as I tossed and turned each night; what would happen if, just for a moment, I stood still? Would the world come crashing down because my projects didn’t meet deadline? Would my boss fly out to California and flog me with a coat hanger?

How would I define myself if not as “an excellent multi-tasker with experience managing cross-functional teams?”

I am sure I’m not the only one who feels completely lost in Corporate America.

After all, feeling burned out is the latest status symbol – it’s right up there with a shiny black luxury sedan, 2.5 automaton children, an upside-down mortgage, and an annual trip to someplace sunburned. At holiday BBQs, we trade swaggerful stories of awful bosses, 60-hour workweeks, and impossible deadlines for all-important projects with acronyms like H.A.C.K. (Help Anonymous Corporate Knuckleheads) and S.N.O.R.E. (Sorry Not Our Real Expertise).

How Did We Get Here?

My journey to burnout is a common one. I became an over-achiever in eighth grade and kept it up through high school. At school, my path to success was prescribed: choose honors classes & get all A’s. It was easy to succeed because I knew exactly what I had to do.

Like most of us, in college I became more balanced.  I drank… I traveled abroad and danced through London’s nightclubs, became a DJ, and yearned to go back to my hometown and show them that I wasn’t so geeky after all…

But, instead, I went on to graduate in a degree I didn’t love because I couldn’t figure out which of my 73 passions to pursue, and it all seemed like one big dead-end street anyway. French? Art? What would I ever do with a degree like that?

So I chose something practical and got a nice little lucrative career that left me weeping at night but with a 401K and a tidy monthly commission check. On the outside looking in, I seemed to have it all; a beautiful house, an education, a pretty solid marriage, and a stable “creative” job in marketing.

But, the hamster wheel was starting to spin.

Whose Version Of Success Are We Pursuing?

After leaving the education system, our path to “success” isn’t quite so clear anymore – there are no proven ways to mark our progress… No report cards or final exams… If you’re like me – you end up chasing someone else’s vision of success and feeling emotionally bankrupt in the process.

Yet, going against the grain is terrifying. Not only is it extremely scary, it also threatens our existing friends and relationships because; after all, if we buck the system and end up loving our life, what will we talk about at the next BBQ?? Most people certainly don’t want to hear about our choice of happiness over standardstoicstress because it serves as a wakeup call to those who just want to keep hitting snooze…

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to toss the alarm clock out the window and take charge of my own life. And, if you’re an Ending the Grind regular, I’m willing to bet you’re sick of snoozing through life too.

So, how do we do it?

How do we jump off the hamster wheel without breaking our legs, bank accounts, and relationships?

For me, the answer has been to become an expert juggler. For now.

I am in a dual income family living in San Diego – so while I’d love to tell my boss to “take this job and shove it,” I simply can’t quite do that. Not yet. Not with a mortgage, a toddler, and student loans to pay off.

But, instead of getting frustrated and resentful that my husband isn’t able to support us so I can quit (believe me, I’ve been there too), I decided that I am in charge of my own life.

So, I’m juggling my corporate job while simultaneously working on the side to build an online empire. Luckily I work from home and can weave in and out of tasks like a silkworm.

Yes, it is hard and stressful. My pants are worn out because I’m flying by their seat so much.

Yet, even though I am spread beyond too thin, I’ve never been happier because I’m finally building room in my life for my passion. Because, for the first time, I am deciding what MY picture of success looks like. And, now that I figured out what was missing from my so-called perfect life (creativity), I’ve also found the platform from which my entrepreneurial wings will take off.

You don’t have to leap all at once and trust that a safety net lies below if you fall instead of fly.

Instead, I suggest that you spend some time really digging into what success looks like for you. How will you spend your days? What will your working hours look like? Where will you be? What’s really important to you? Are you willing to let go of certain relationships or material things that aren’t in line with your bigger picture? Are you willing to make some hard choices in order to get where you want to go?

All these questions can be answered while you still collect a paycheck. Set your strategy in motion now so that you aren’t wasting your first few months without a salary with trying to build your business infrastructure.

Once you paint your picture of success, you won’t believe the “coincidences” that will conspire to help you off the ground. Clarity is everything. And then, you can leap.

I’ll see you on the other side; at a different BBQ where we can all talk about the day we ended the grind.

Emelie Rota lost her way and hit burnout in the process of working, getting married, and becoming a mom. When she reignited her creative spark [through sheer will and focused effort], her 10,000-watt love of life came back like she was five years old in a field of butterflies.

Now, Emelie helps others reclaim the creativity they don’t even know they’ve lost. Emelie is a lifestyle artisan and creative catalyst, guiding each client through her Soulectricity Sessions to create the conditions for their best life. Her unique approach to creativity results in clients finding the courage to choose happiness, enjoy life more fully, and see their world through renewed eyes. You’ll find her online at http://www.revellish.com.

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