How I Took Control of My Life By Walking Away from My Powerful, Lucrative and Pretty Cool Career
I guess the beginning of the end was when my daughter broke her arm in two places while I was in a control room live on the air. And there wasn’t anything I could do about it. As they say, the show must go on.
I worked as a network news TV producer for more than 20 years in New York City, which was pretty awesome. I’m not gonna lie. My job was totally exciting and came with tons of cool perks – I met and worked with A-list celebrities, I got reservations at hard-to-book restaurants and clubs, I had backstage access at fashion shows, got into movie premieres, had free swag sent to me all the time and more. I’d talk to friends about what they were doing at work that week and it was the usual grind. Me? My answer was something like “oh, I’m producing a segment with Kate Hudson” or “I met Will Smith yesterday” or “I’m going to Miami to do a story on the Grammy-nominated music producer that wrote Ricky Martin’s Livin La Vida Loca” or “I’m headed to the Calvin Klein show to interview Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlington.” I know I'm aging myself, but yeah. My job was like that.
As the years went by, my jobs got bigger. I covered the major news stories of our time, from the crash of TWA Flight 800 to the fall of the World Trade Center Towers on September 11th to Presidential elections. I was nominated for an Emmy. I began running my own shows, deciding what the segments were going to be and who the guests were.
A day in my former life...
Me, in a control room as the Senior Producer of a national news show
But have you ever thoroughly enjoyed something for a long time, and then kind of, all of a sudden, realize you’re sort of over it?
For many years the thrill of breaking news kept me going. Even after having two kids and getting divorced. That feeling of being NEEDED at work, that I was one of the only people that could do what I was doing, that sense of power and control and importance. I really loved my job. Until I didn’t.
As the time passed, it weighed on me more and more that while I had an awesome and exciting job, I was the mom that never took my kids to school. Never picked them up from school. Never took them to after-school activities. Never chaperoned a school trip. Never volunteered at the book fair. And then my daughter fell off the monkey bars and broke her arm in two places, and I was the mom that was at work and couldn’t run to be with her right away. (Relax, you don’t need to call child services. She was with her dad and our nanny – it wasn’t as though she was lying broken and alone on a street somewhere. But still…)
A change in perspective:
My daughter, after breaking her arm in two places while I was at work
I am one of those people that believes everything happens for a reason. And while I didn’t up and quit my job at that moment, I do think in retrospect that it was a turning point for me. I began to realize that no matter what my job was, it wasn’t as important as my LIFE. And let’s be honest, it’s not like I was actually saving lives, either. I’m not a brain surgeon. It was just TV.
And so, in the end, I decided that I was ready for a different kind of lifestyle. One that allowed me to take the kids to school and volunteer at the book fair – at least before they were too old to even want me to. A life that allowed me to control my time and what I was doing with it.
I knew making this drastic change meant sacrifice in other ways. I knew it meant that I would have to start over in a new business, that I would be giving up my multiple six-figure salary and taking a deep pay cut in my new venture, that I would have more flexibility than ever before but would still sometimes have to work in the evenings or on weekends or even on vacation. But the difference was that I’d be the one choosing to do those things. And I could decide which evenings and hours would work for ME and WHICH part of the weekend I would make myself available to work, rather than the unpredictability of breaking news stories or a booked guest canceling their interview and having to scramble to put out fires left and right.
Control is a curious concept. For 20 years I had control over the things you watched on TV and I worked in what is literally called a “Control Room.” And while I controlled every single minute of those hour-long shows - down to the second - I actually had no personal control of my own time. Funny how in order to take control of my own life, I had to give up the control I had worked so hard to gain in my professional life. But I did.
And I lived to tell the tale. And to share it with you now. There are so many outside elements that weigh on us when we think about what we’re doing, who we are, why we’re here. And so often, we barely even have the time to consider those things. But if you’re doing something, somewhere with someone that is not enjoyable to you, then start thinking about how you can change things for the better. It’s not too late! You’re not too old!
Will it be easy? Probably not. But here’s the real question: will it make you happy? Will it make you enjoy your life more? Then you owe it to yourself, and you DESERVE it. It’s time for you to take control.
Are there ways you'd like to make changes in your life? Share with us in the comments!