I worked on Wall Street for ten years before I burned out and quit. I left a six-figure salary, great benefits, and job security. My work was challenging and for the most part I liked the people I worked with. Over time, however, I began to lose focus and physically started to deteriorate. As my responsibility grew, I started feeling the stress to perform at higher levels. I was exhausted every day and mentally unmotivated. Then I started bitching about my job to anyone who would listen, becoming a cancer in the organization.
The environment on Wall Street was stressful and full of “high priority” tasks and deadlines that would bring the fear of god into you if you missed. To let off steam, I’d have a bit too much fun partying with friends on the weekends. By Sunday evening I’d be wrought with anxiety at the thought of another week in the office. This went on for many years.
By my 8th year in finance I was completely burned out. I had no motivation left, but the perfectionist in me still made it a point to show up, put a smile on my face and do just enough work not to get fired. When I look back I realize that I was a textbook case of an employee that no one wanted to manage, let alone lead. I knew that happiness was in my control and I could curate my destiny (and all the other BS that’s spewed to you by overly happy people in the world), but I just couldn’t get out from under the raincloud that I had designed for myself. I was in a hamster wheel of perpetual negativity and I couldn't get out of my own way. I’d of course hide this on the weekends by drinking too much wine. Inevitably, my health suffered as a result.
I developed IBS – otherwise known as, “something is wrong with your digestive system, we don’t know what it is, so we will call it IBS.” I suffered from severe constipation and never once did I relate this ailment to stress and anxiety. I had terrible stomach pain and always felt uncomfortable. Despite all of this, I considered myself a very healthy person. I would exercise almost everyday and eat quite healthy (minus my weekend derailments). However, stress manifests itself in very strange ways and for me, it was wreaking havoc on my digestive system.
Eventually the negativity and stress caught up with me. One day, my husband sat me down and told me that I had to make a decision. Despite the act I was always putting on, he knew that I was miserable with my career and that I needed to make some changes. It's humbling when the person who knows you the best in the world calls you out for being at your worst. When I finally admitted to myself that I was miserable, I quit my job and pursued the one thing that had always been consistent in my life – getting to the gym.
So here we are, five years later. I'm running my own wellness company, finding myself right back in the corporate world.
But, this time I'm going back with a new aim. I want to help employees find the right balance and use health and happiness as a strategy to become more effective in the workplace. My message to employers and managers out there – you don’t want what happened to me to happen to anyone in your organization, so check in on them regularly and encourage them to take their health and happiness just as seriously as they take their work.
The Sweat Social Team