Confessions of a Reformed Workaholic

Well, it’s been one year after leaving my corporate job, starting my own success coaching business and moving to the Caribbean – so I figure it’s time for a few more confessions.

What prompted this line of thinking was an e-mail I received from a friend (hi, Caroline!) laughingly asking me if a year ago, I could imagine that my big concerns would be food boats coming into Saba. I admit that my life here in Saba is a far cry from braving sub-zero temperatures and sitting in meeting rooms discussing the merits of global human resources outsourcing! Another friend from my former employer (hi Peter!), suggested I describe my new life by writing something like “I used to…and now I.” Now I really liked this idea, but haven’t been witty enough to create snappy sound bites, so I’ll describe the changes in my own way.


One of the biggest changes in my life is getting plenty of sleep. As a reformed workaholic, life is very different in the land of the well rested. Getting 7 – 8 hours of sleep (as opposed to oh say, 4-6) has changed my whole outlook on life. Now I admit that I got a head start on this, since I started to overhaul my workaholic ways before I left my job, but there is something wonderful about being an entrepreneur and being able to decide when my day starts and ends. I used to think my ability to function well on less sleep was a sign of my steely success as a corporate type. Now I realize I was missing out on a level of well being that can only come with the peace of mind created by healing sleep.

Exercise is Fun (Did I really say FUN???)

Nice Save Heather!
I’ve always been into exercise – my father was a professional lacrosse player and avid sports-type all his life, so I was taught to “sweat it out” from an early age. Right about here, is where Joel wants me to digress and tell you a couple stories about my father and this sweat it out concept. When I was in first or second grade, we had a lacrosse goal in our backyard and you could often find my father, my sister (Robin) and me running around with stick & ball. Given that Robin and I were too young to do much else with any skill, we happened to be pretty good goalies. One day, while being goalie for my father & his friend, I took a professional-lacrosse-player shot in the stomach, knocking the wind out of me as I fell to the ground. My father shouts, “Nice save, Heather!” I suppose this is parent-psychology for making sure I don’t start bawling and it pretty much worked. The sweat it out comment came later, in high school when I had a cold – this was my father’s advice to get it out of my system, rather than taking a rest. It must have worked because I rarely ever got sick from that point forward.

Sweat It Out

My father’s advice was actually helpful for my corporate days, when long hours and lack of sleep required a stress outlet. Exercising became that outlet and I often found myself indoors on my elliptical stepper, lifting weights – and later – doing yoga. Here in Saba, my exercise consists of walking beautiful trails through the tropical rainforest, while looking at miles of blue ocean — and listening to the 87 varieties of birds calling into the wind. There is a constant, cooling breeze as I labor joyously up the stone steps and up and down the hilly terrain. It is not easy hiking here, so the exercise is good – although I can hardly think of it as exercise. It is a workout, though – because I find that I am more focused on letting out fears and limitations – while letting in joy and peace. These walks are so full of the beauty & wonder of life – they bring greater happiness than a session on the elliptical (with blaring TV) could ever have done.

Ain’t Got No Wheels

You may have read in another post that Joel and I decided not to get a car in Saba. Right about now, in New Hampshire, we’d be digging out of feet of snow and getting into the car like human Popsicles. Every trip would require some car-time and somehow, we always had to go to places like Staples and Home Depot, not to mention the 1-hour weekly grocery shopping chore. In Saba, we are steps away from the grocery store and going is like getting a friendly dose of human interaction. We look forward to seeing who is there, what the latest news is and what food surprises await.

While we were open to getting a car, we realized that having one in Saba is an unnecessary complication. Most of the reasons we could come up with for having a car are based on our “New England, cold weather, everything long-distance” mindsets (although Joel still talks about getting a moped, like it’s really an option! **Update 2013: We’re in San Diego now and Joel is living his Vespa dream 😉 Imagine everything being a perfect weather jaunt down the street?

Other reasons for not getting a car in Saba

  • The mountainous terrain – full of blind curves and sheer cliffs, takes a month to learn to navigate (we’ll do a post on “The Road that couldn’t be built”) – it’s scary driving, hence the no moped rule.
  • The hassle – related to #1 is the need to have brakes fixed every 3 months, plus ocean air car deterioration.
  • Expensive gas – this is a European island with European gas prices.
  • Hitchhiking – it’s free, it’s easy, it’s safe and everyone participates. And those who don’t can take a taxi. After awhile, the taxi drivers give you half your rides for free. Most of the time you don’t even have to stick out your thumb – people just stop and ask – how cool is that?

Clothes Make the Woman

You may have seen the pictures of me on this blog and wondered if we took them all on the same day. You may have wondered this because I have the same clothes on in many of the shots. Well, here’s the real confession – I only have about 5 t-shirts and a few pairs of shorts here with me. About a month after I got here, 2 of the shirts got bleach stains and two got holes. This means that on any given day, I could be shopping, hiking or even out to dinner in what I previously would have labeled as “bum-around clothes.” In my corporate life, I carefully selected my “professional” wardrobe and built my corporate role along with it. I was so carefully professional, that I got further and further away from who I really am.

Redefining our own definition of the ‘good life’ …
Not that I am not saying that clothes make the woman, what I’m really talking about is the roles we play in life. If you look really closely at your behavior as spouse, executive, daughter, son, community volunteer, parent – you might find that there are subtle changes depending upon your role at the time. After awhile, we start to “play” the role, rather than just being who we are. The role becomes more about what we are “doing” or some image/story of who we should be. At least that was true for me. It took being voluntarily stripped of all my possessions, my big house, my title and all things pointing to status to bring me closer to my true self. Breaking down the structures of everything Joel & I had gotten used to – and building up our own definition of “the good life” allowed me to find the path back to myself.

Lifestyle Downshifting – There’s Nothing Better

And since I am confessing, I will admit that in this past year of transition, the path has been scary, chaotic, sad – and then hopeful, peaceful and utterly joyful. There is nothing better than following what’s in your heart – no title, no money, no vice – no nothing. This is the proof that chucking it all and following our dreams was a risk worth taking. We highly recommend it to anyone out there wondering, “what if?”

I am so thankful to all of our readers in blog world for spending your time with us every now and then. Want to live your dreams? Whether it’s a new job, a promotion, creating multiple streams of income, starting a business, balancing success with a fulfilling life or lifestyle downshifting — there are many ways to achieve your goals and live your dreams!


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As a coach, writer and recovered former executive, I understand the challenges of creating a balanced, healthy lifestyle when over-scheduled. In my journey to radiant health, I created a whole health system of eating, exercise, renewal and recharging -- a roadmap toward health & vitality. I empower clients to create their own whole health systems, in their own unique ways. I have seen amazing results in working with my clients!