Today - 6 years on after making my career change - I felt the following things: anxiety (that I'm wasting time), guilt (that I'm not working hard enough), tension (from stress), worry (about where to focus, whether I'm doing the right thing etc etc) and frustration at my perceived slow progress.
And this is the life that I have chosen to live! Oh, the humanity.
After being stuck for so long, I decided to go back to university to study psychology. I did all types of courses - distance learning, part time, full time.
It was very strange. Grotty buildings after years of corporate pleasantness, strangely bearded tutors, dog eared textbooks, classmates (now 10 years younger than me). But it also felt liberating to do something simply because I liked it (i.e. for fundamental reasons), as opposed to where it would take me (instrumental reasons).
After a few years of studying statistics in labs, I set up Bloom Psychology. And yes, life is better, but I have sacrificed much happiness to be happier, if that makes sense. (See above).
In other words, on a day to day level life has not got any easier simply because I now do what I love. If anything, by moving towards something I really value, life has got much more difficult.
Why? I want a refund.
When you run away from something you fear (guilty, your Honour), you can rely on a lot of things to help you: alcohol, distraction, proacrastination, denial, anything to avoid thinking about difficult stuff.
For many of us in soul crushing jobs, this becomes known as 'real life'.
But if you are moving towards something you truly value, these options are far less available.
Every time I procrastinate now, get drunk, get distracted, I betray something important. And by committing myself to what I really value, I open myself up to what I really fear, because if I didn't value it I wouldn't care.
A lot of career coaches would never say this. Find your purpose, use your strengths, and you too (like them) can find happiness!
The truth is that happiness is out of your control, but that you still have a choice.
You can live a life in which you avoid difficult emotions like fear, as I did as a consultant. Or, you can choose to move towards something that you truly value.
Both routes are painful, but only one dignifies that pain with a sense of meaning.