I’ve Left My HR Career Three Times

I’ve Left My HR Career Three Times

The routine drove me crazy, it was restricting; I didn’t see any way around it.

Everyone I knew had a similar routine: Wake up, workout, work, home, sleep, repeat. I would get up at 4:30 am, head to the gym for about 90 minutes, then home to shower, head to work in thick traffic, work in my HR (human resource management) job, then return home or sometimes yoga, then home. Repeat. I did other things in the mix, but I knew I always wanted something different. Thinking back, the word career, to me, signifies lethal routine.  Anyone else? 

“If you think adventure is dangerous,
try routine; it is lethal.”

~Paulo Coelho

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I’ve left my HR career three times, not just to switch companies or for new HR career opportunities (with different titles or more pay). Each time I left it was because my heart wanted to do something different and while each time was different, it wasn't always clear to me what I wanted to do next.

For those deciding if you want to read further, here's a little preview/recap: First, I left to live and volunteer in another country. The second time I left family, friends and my house to move across the country for a relationship and to start my business. The third time I transitioned to create more freedom, prioritize my life, relationships, and health, and focus on helping others through my coaching and mentorship full time.

Curious on how this relates to your life? Read on!

First Time: Chile + Layoffs

​The first time I left my HR job was to move to Chile to be a volunteer English Teacher. (Read: VOLUNTEER = no money.) I had been pondering doing something different for a while. I thought I was having a “Quarter Life Crisis,” so I started traveling solo to "find myself". Exploring new countries and meeting new people is when I felt the most free. I was 27, so NOT straight out of college without any responsibilities, but I wasn't going to let age and/or responsibilities stop me.

Upon returning from a trip to Puerto Rico on Valentine’s Day (also after being stuck in the Philadelphia airport for over 24 hours due to a snow storm), the next day I returned, begrudgingly, to my HR job. That same day, I had an oil change appointment at 12 noon for my car, then a meeting with my HR Manager at 2:00 pm. (These details are important, you'll see.)

Volunteer English Teacher Opportunity

​At 12:00 pm, I found out I was accepted into the Volunteer English Teacher program in Chile; this program was set to start in May and would be a six month program. I had completed the interviews and submitted my program application months earlier. The news excited me; I had always wanted to travel to Chile.

Excitement aside, I wasn’t sure how to leave a job that was helping me, a single girl, pay her bills, feed herself and pay the mortgage on her new house. If I were to take this opportunity, I would be losing a lot of money each month. 

​I had wanted to leave my job, but leaving a steady paycheck to volunteer was quite risky. In my heart I knew I would figure it out. So, while I was thrilled, I wasn’t sure how I was going to make this all work out. Obviously, I could say no and maybe just travel to Chile for a couple weeks on my own.

Upon returning to work and going into a routine check-in meeting with my manager, something felt off, but I proceeded anyway. As I entered her office, sitting at the small round table near her desk was my manager and the VP of Human Resources. My heart sunk a little; I immediately knew what was happening. I’ve been in these dreaded meetings before and they were never warm and fuzzy or heart lifting.​

Little White Envelope

​I took a deep breath, all of my senses were awakened - yet clouded at the same time. Suddenly the joy and happiness of the Chilean opportunity that had just been presented to me left my body. There was a letter on the table; I recognized that white envelope and formatting of the letter. I have no idea how I appeared to them, but my body went into a tunnel visioned defense mode.

​It was my turn to get “the notice”. It was my time to be part of the quarterly staff “position eliminations”. I sat down at the table, I didn’t say anything. Usually I was the one writing these letters for my manager, but not this time, I didn’t write this letter, but I knew exactly what it said.

They walked through the letter and officially let me know that my position would be eliminated by the end of the fiscal year, which was March 31. They had to make cuts in the budget and my position was included in that. I wasn’t sure if I should be sad, mad, angry, or happy.

Volunteer English Teacher

Off to Chile

Long story short, I accepted the Volunteer English Teacher position in Chile. Since I was done with my position on March 31 and had to be in Chile in May, I had all of April to pack up my house and prepare to leave the country for at least six months. I packed my house as if I wasn’t going to return. I tried to sell my house with that thought in mind (and to save money), but that didn’t pan out.​

​Second Time: Seattle + New Business

​The second time I left my HR career was to move to Seattle, Washington for a relationship and to start my business. There’s a little backstory that goes with this, too.

Before I returned from Chile, my old manager from my previous company (where my position was eliminated - different manager) offered me an HR job reporting to her at a new company. I received an email from her while I was traveling in Argentina. Interestingly, at that exact time I was looking for jobs in Argentina on a public computer at a cute little hostel in Buenos Aires.

​Truth be told, I knew I needed the money after living abroad as a volunteer and the fact that my house (mortgage payment) was currently sitting empty without renters. After spending a couple of days walking around Buenos Aires pondering this opportunity, I decided to accept the position and move back to Minnesota. (I already had a flight home, so it made sense.)

Reverse Culture Shock

The transition from Chile back to the USA was one of the toughest transitions in my life; reverse culture shock is real. Without having any friends that could relate to my experience and no friends that seemed to want to be around me, I was very very alone. (I was also returning to Minnesota in the dead of winter, while South America was moving into Summer.) Being single and with the majority of my friends being married and doing "couples things", having babies or getting married, I didn’t fit in at all.​

​I missed traveling and exploring. I missed Chile, my students and the friends I had met abroad. I missed connecting with others and speaking Spanish. So, upon returning, I started that new HR job (as a desired temporary position), began volunteering for an organization for Latina youth called La Oportunidad and I also found a position teaching Spanish to elementary school students before and after school. Staying busy doing things that would light me up and help me feel more connected back at “home” assisted in this life transition.

Back to HR

​During my time at this company, I was offered a full time HR position, which I accepted with a lot of hesitancy. It was nice to have benefits, a stable income, vacation days, sick time and a retirement savings plan and find some "routine" in my lonely little world. I still traveled to new countries and kept meeting new people, that couldn't stop.

A couple years into the job, I craved something more fulfilling, it was either go back to school and get my MBA (which sounded totally boring) or a degree in Nutrition. I wasn’t quite sold on either option, so I dug deeper. An opportunity to get my "Mini Masters in HR Management" was presented, so I took that opportunity - and while I loved it and connecting with people; I knew that wasn't quite where my heart was going.

Back to School

Being passionate about wellness and having made a lot of positive progress on my own personal health journey, I decided to go back to school to be a Holistic Health Coach at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. My heart said YES, a strong YES as I had always wanted to immerse myself in learning more about holistic wellness and helping others.

​While working full time in HR, volunteering as a “big sister”, and teaching Spanish, I was also going back to school at IIN, blogging about wellness, actively going to the gym, consistently practicing yoga, traveling solo to new countries around the world, working within wellness at my HR job and also leading up the wellness committee at work (because no one else wanted to do it and I freaking LOVED it). I loved it all. 

Holistic Life Balance

I was feeling more fulfilled in my life and in my career - not because I loved my job, but I was creating a life outside of work that I loved and that created more love, joy and happiness in my life. Going to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition was a huge turning point in my life. My “Circle of Life” was expanding outward while I was feeling more grounded in my personal life journey.

Naturally another shift was coming in my life. My boyfriend, at the time, was relocating to Seattle, Washington for his job and we decided I would also move to Seattle. All I needed to do was quit my job and either sell or rent out my house. Small things, right? Nope, not little things, but since I had left a job to move across the world, it wasn’t as daunting this second time around. 

Moving, Graduation + a Fresh Start

So, I figured it all out on my own. I let my employer know that I would be moving across the country and resigning from my job. I tried to sell my house (again), but it wasn’t selling so I decided to rent it out. At that same time, I went through and donated about 75% of my personal possessions since I had to pay to move everything across the country on my own, so I wanted to keep it simple and inexpensive.

At the same time all of this was going on, I also graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (it’s a year long program). I didn’t know if I wanted to start a business at that point, but that was the new plan - to start my business as soon as I moved to Seattle. I felt a little uncertain about that part, but I went with it.

So, I left my steady HR job, house, family and friends to move across the country for a relationship and also start my business. I knew two people in Seattle at the time, so similar to Chile, it would be about starting fresh in a new place (but at least in the same country so that made it a little easier).

PNW Commute

Third Time: Freedom + Passion

The third time I left my HR job was to officially start my Naturalita business full time. You already know there's a little Naturalita backstory to this. 

Shortly after moving to Seattle, the relationship in which I moved there for ended. Long story short, I was without a job and without income as my business was just getting started. I was homeless, and with having no place to live or a job, I felt quite terrified. Wouldn’t you? (I didn't have a bed, dresser or really anything as I donated almost everything.) I did have my dog, Lita, my car, and a laptop! I didn’t sulk in it for too long; however, I quickly moved into “fight or flight” mode. 

Homeless + Jobless

​Well, since this wasn’t my first crazy life rodeo, I figured shit out. I lived in a friend’s basement for a short bit until I found a small cheap ghetto fabulous apartment (I called it the GFA - Ghetto Fabulous Apartment). This place was old, a little creepy, but it was in the cutest neighborhood in Seattle and was dog friendly.

Oh, it was also set to be torn down at an unknown date, so I could live there until they tore it down. Around the same time, I also found an HR job so that I could have some steady income and benefits while building my coaching business. Everything was moving in a positive direction. 

​One day I came home from my HR job to find an eviction notice taped to my GFA's door; I had 21 days to find a new place to live. Only 21 days!?! I thought I would be given at least 90 days notice; I was wrong. What to do now? Seattle is by far the MOST expensive place I've ever lived. Apartment living was ridiculous and over the top expensive.

Another Move + Commute

God was watching out for me. I had been dating a sweet guy for a while and the man (he’s still my man now) offered for me to live with him - the only thing was he lived a ferry ride away from Seattle, so my commute time to work would quadruple. I moved in with the man (still here with him and in love) and started my journey of commuting to my HR job in Seattle. It ended up being a 4 hour daily commute, some days longer if I missed the ferry.

​Every day, I would wake up at 4:00 am, workout, shower, then leave for the ferry at 5:30 am to get in line for the 6:20 am ferry. I would work on my Naturalita business while on the ferry in the mornings and in the evenings, taking client calls in the mornings and/or the evenings on the days I had my car. My car and the ferry were my floating office. The ferry ride was an hour long each way, so it worked, but I started to despise it. I was drained and super stressed.

​While working full time, commuting four hours a day, paying for expensive ferry commutes, working on my business during my commute and when I got home from the commute, getting to bed late and hesitantly waking up super early - all of this took a toll on my health, life and relationship.

Disconnect to reconnect to your higher self and purpose

Mindset Shift + Support

​Feeling stuck on what to do, I knew I needed to shift my mindset. Shifting my mindset to be more grateful was helpful, but I needed more. I started writing down and embracing what I loved about the ferry commute, my life and even my job. I also read a lot of personal development books, listened to podcasts on the commute and was involved in online coaching programs.

Knowing I needed additional support, I hired my own coach and dug deeper into the work I knew I needed to do for myself. I was taking action on the shit I didn't really want to face. I started appreciating what was going on (and what was happening for me) and how all of it was a part of my journey. With the help and support of my amazing man and coach, I decided to leave my HR job to move into my coaching business full time.

​It was a scary leap as I was afraid if I left my job again, I would be homeless, broke, unemployable and single. I was letting the patterns of my past take control of my life. The man was supportive of me leaving my job - and personally, I knew I needed to do it for our relationship to thrive as well as for my own personal health and sanity.

To transition, I cut back on hours at my HR job first, then after some personal goal setting and creating an inspired action plan, I decided to officially leave. My heart was ready, even though my ego was telling me no. (I was earning some income in my business, which was helpful.)

Disconnect to reconnect in the Costa Rican Jungle

Travel to Disconnect

​Before leaving that job, I booked a solo two week personal vacation: a yoga and surf retreat. I would spend a week on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica practicing yoga and surfing, then transition to a week in the Costa Rican mountains at a little secluded yoga center. I was able to give two months notice. Seeking freedom through travel was my way to disconnect from everything and reconnect with myself.

When I finally left that job, I was more than ready. It wasn't a quick and easy decision as the patterns of my past were in a way helping me, but at the same time holding me back. Doing the work to recognize the patterns and learn to release them was what provided both clarity and guidance. Moving into the world of working in my business full-time from home was another adventure in itself. I can share more on that, too, if people are interested. What I can say is that it has been worth it.  

The details... aren't always that important.

​Ahhh, just writing this out I know I'm missing a lot of details; a lot of emotions are coming up, too. It’s been quite the journey and while this is just the short version, it’s helped me become the woman I am today. It’s also given me the opportunity to help others going into large (or small) life transitions and guide and mentor those that are seeking more freedom, flexibility and joy in their lives.

​I’ve shared snippets of this part of my story with people one on one, but I’ve never fully shared it in one place. It’s been a rewarding journey, as I love what I do and I love the flexibility and freedom that comes with it and who I get to partner with, work with, coach, guide, and mentor. Most importantly, I love how I feel more like ME in my body and in my life. I’ve regained my health, deepened my relationships and genuinely get to create the life I desire.

It's not all unicorns, rainbows and highlight reels...

​Is it always easy? Nope, not at all. In writing this little recap, it felt great for me to reflect on how I felt during each of those situations and how I feel now. How I feel now is quite amazing and the journey, with its joys and darkness, has been worth it.

Create freedom in your life

Recognize the Patterns

​One pattern that I now see in each of the transitions (there are a lot patterns, actually) is I desired change and I didn’t focus too much on all of the details. I would get started by taking inspired action and then figured out the steps to get there. I trusted the process, focused on the positive and kept moving forward.

It wasn’t always easy, I definitely had negative downhill sloping moments. Getting stuck in a rut, letting fear creep in and feeling scared were common feelings. However, as soon as I became aware of those feelings and action blocks, I was able to focus on the bigger love-filled journey and return to a positive state - usually with the help of others combined with my heart guidance.

​Are you looking to make a transition in your life?

As you can see, this isn’t just about a career transition. Within larger transitions in life, there are also intertwined emotions and adventures that are connected directly to each of the changes, proving that everything in life is truly connected. “Everything is connected”, I've said this for years. The more I reflect on my own personal story and journey combined with connecting and working with others, this becomes clearer and clearer.

I love connecting the dots of life from the past and helping guide others to take inspired action in the present. It's not about focusing on the past, but recognizing and releasing the patterns we hold so tightly to make room for new desires, journeys and adventures we are holding in our hearts. 

What's holding you back?

​If you are looking to make a transition in any area of your life, it could be health, career, business, relationships, exercise or anything, what do you feel is holding you back from making this change? 

Do you recognize any patterns? If yes, write them down.

Are you actually READY and COMMITTED to making a change? This is extremely important. I love working with people that are ready, committed and have let go of their excuses.

Do you feel finding support to help you make this transition would be beneficial? If yes, what type of support would be helpful right now?

If you're looking for additional support in making a desired transition, please reach out and let's chat! You can connect with me personally here

Please share your thoughts, questions or experiences.
I would love to learn more about you!


2 Responses to I’ve Left My HR Career Three Times

  1. Nicole – I am just now reading this post. Love it! I worked in HR for a long time and was employed with the same company for 24+ years – half my life! While I always thought and talked about leaving, I never did until the company decided to move to another state. I wish I had the nerve like you do to make decisions that stretch me. Now, as I try and build my business to full-time income I find myself pulling back, doubting myself. Then I read stories like this. This inspired me to dig deep, go for it, and know that it will all work out. Much love to you my friend. xx

    • Hey Corrie! I love that you decided to commit to yourself and your dreams and leave, you could have gotten another HR “job”, but your dreams were more powerful than that, so own your power and decision right there, lovely! We can all find ourselves pulling back and doubting ourselves in one way or another, sometimes it is part of the journey, sometimes it leads us astray, but when we release a little and allow ourselves to explore the nudges (the good ones) a little more, we often find our way. Yes, digging deeper into your WHY is important. How does what you are doing align with your values? xo

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Hi, I’m Nicole, aka The Naturalita. Are you ready gain more confidence and SHINE? I partner with passionate health and freedom seeking women to design a more “Naturalita” life by creating life inspired goals to guide them on their personal journey so they can SHINE more and build a foundation of wellness, amp up their confidence and ease their wanderlust soul.

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