Doing What Matters

Posted on 17th May, 2015

This coming Wednesday, it will be two years to the day since our move from the south-east of England to beautiful North Wales. Often, a house move happens because of a new job, but in our case it was brought about by two things – my childhood dream of living in Llandudno and our finding the perfect house somewhat sooner than we had intended. As for work – well, we packed in our jobs down south, knowing we must find new ones when we moved.

And we did. Everything fell into place. It was a risk – a calculated one, admittedly, but a risk nonetheless. And we love the quality of life we now enjoy as a result.

And now I've taken another risk. I've given up my job, which was permanent, for a temporary post to cover maternity leave. Will the new mum return to work? I have to assume so. So why have I done it? Because I will love the new job and I'd have been sorry if I hadn't. Again, it's a quality of life thing.

Am I a natural risk-taker? No. Have I swanned through life flouting convention and going my own sweet way? Absolutely not. Times were when I wouldn't have dreamt of giving up a permanent post for a temporary one; and if someone else had done it, I'd have thought they were massively irresponsible.

It isn't the first time I've taken a work-related risk. Some years ago, I gave up a successful career in order to re-train as a teacher. There were financial repercussions – I went back down to the bottom of the salary scale – but, after toying with the idea of teaching for some years, I finally went ahead and did it.

So why these risks, these decisions? I put it down to having had two major bereavements. By major, I mean bereavements that have had a lasting impact on my view of life. One death was caused by a road traffic accident, the other by terminal illness. Both people died way before their time.

And my outlook on life changed forever – and not just my outlook, but my willingness to do something about it. Life is precious and in some cases it is unbearably short. The person who died of the terminal illness didn't even enjoy his job and knowing this was instrumental in my decision to turn to teaching.Those two bereavements showed me that knowing what is right for you isn't enough. You have to do something about it. And in my own quiet way, I have.

Now, in Llandudno, we have less money but lots more time; the pace of life is relaxed, the surroundings are gorgeous and we still get a buzz from the simple fact of living here. Financially speaking, the choices and changes I've made may have been barmy. But the quality-of-life measure has gone off the scale. And you can't put a price on that.


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Comments (11)

Thank you for your kind words, Susan. I have to say you brought a tear to my eye.
A brave post Susanna, and powerful as well. People will take note of it, and those two young people have not died in vain then; many condolances, and you are living proof that they have made a difference.
Thank you for your comment, Jan. I am very touched by the support I have received through this blog.
Such a thought provoking post, Sue, and what you say about the quality of life being much more important than financial gain is so true. It sometimes takes a bereavement for us to realise that what is really important in life. You cannot put a price on happiness and it sounds as if you made the right choices. :-)
Thank you for your lovely comment, Jen. It means a lot to me that you found my post meaningful. You have shown such honesty in your own blog about facing a difficult time at the moment. I hope things work out well for you.
This post made me cry, but in a good way. I felt that you were speaking directly to me, and some of the challenges I'm facing. You also reminded me of bereavements I've experienced which, like those you described, changed my perspective on life and what is important. Thank you for sharing these thoughts - and thanks to those who have left such meaningful comments too.
Thank you, Maame and Wendy, for your comments.

I agree with you, Maame - the loss of a loved one does indeed shake you up and make you think differently, but in most cases, when the shock has worn off and life begins to get back to normal, your thought processes go back to normal too. What made these two bereavements different was that my way of thinking didn't revert back again.

I'm pleased to hear about the success of your downsizing, Wendy. It isn't just freedom from the daily treadmill that you gain - it's freedom from all the associated stresses. I know what you mean about time flying by - it's astonishing to think we've been here for two whole years now. Where has the time gone?
Sometimes it takes those events to 'shock' us into seeing the world through different eyes. We did something similar in 2000, downsizing and living on a tight budget to allow ourselves freedom to do those things you can't do when having a stressful job takes all your time and brain space (my husband likened it to having a full hard drive!). We've never regretted it. The scary thing now is looking back and realising how quickly time passes so we're so glad we went for it when we did. Glad you did too!
I love reading about your love of Llandudno, Susanna, as it brings back happy memories of my childhood holidays. Only this week I ordered some wild garlic to plant in our garden in memory of that wonderful smell while walking the woods on our spring-time trips to Wales!
Good on you for taking those risks. The death of people we love does wake us up to what's important to life, but sometimes as we get caught up in the day to day chaos of life it's too easy to forget those hard-earned lessons, or else we lost the courage to act on them. You remind me to reflect on what I learned when loved ones died, thank you.
What a generous comment, Emma. Thank you so much. I can understand the decision you and your husband made to live in a place that you believed would provide the best backdrop to your children's young lives, because it has echoes of our decision to come here to Wales. And I sympathise with your current dilemma. Being unhappy at work is a horrible position to be in. It is good to know that your husband will back you, whatever you choose to do.

I'm looking forward to welcoming you back to my blog very soon to write a guest post. See you then!
Susanna, what a beautiful heartfelt sentiment, and so true, it brought tears to my eyes. It actually echoes something which happened to me and my family some years ago now when we moved to Shropshire; my husband and I gave up jobs we had just simply because we loved the area so much and wanted it for our children as much as anything, who were very young at the time. There were some hard times but neither of us is materialistic thankfully, and what we gained far outweighed the financial reward. We have always had a belief that as long as we had just enough, then this was enough, and so far this belief has proved to have held true. Now I am the main breadwinner for our family and am torn between the necessity to provide, or to follow what I love doing so much it hurts, and that is writing. I am in a job which I no longer enjoy and find it a massive barrier to what I now know I want to do, I can see myself, as some might put it, throwing it all away, and taking the perceived risk, just as you describe it, but I know that if I do, I will have my husband's support. Yes our finances will suffer, but life will be better in all sorts of ways, not least by getting rid of the stress level which follows me daily. I applaud you Susanna. Life really is too short. Seize the day!