Today I consciously decided to burn a bridge.
So naturally, I’m celebrating! It is only the early afternoon so I’m celebrating with Starbucks, not champagne, but I’m still savouring the moment. Woot woot!
First, let me tell you how I define ‘burning a bridge’. For me, it is speaking your truth and letting the chips fall where they may.
It is not going postal, acting like an unhinged, irrational whackadoodle, or slinging ‘F-Us’ around like confetti. While that kind of behaviour will definitely burn a bridge, simply saying exactly how you feel can also leave you with the same result. Not always, but often.
So let’s backtrack.
I sometimes do freelance work in magazine publishing. While I don’t do a lot of hands-on design work anymore, this is (was?) easy work for a large corporation. It paid well, and it kept my technical skills honed. I recognized that the work in no way challenged me, but I was ok with that. As an uber resourceful entrepreneur, I have always insisted on having multiple streams of income to keep stresses to a minimum, and this was one of those jobs that I did for the sake of a paycheque. I bet a lot of you can say ‘yup, been there, done that’.
My work with this company wasn’t based on a contract or any set schedule. I would be booked for various days or weeks whenever they needed more hands on deck. Very quickly, however, scheduling became an issue. Not because I wasn’t flexible (being too accommodating is actually one of the things I need to work on), but because they kept changing dates on me. It would take ten emails to confirm even just a couple days in the office. Days would be booked, then canceled, then rebooked, then changed, then rescheduled, then canceled again. It became too much, too annoying, and too - well, too bullshitty.
So I wrote a short, blunt, very strong email to these people who couldn’t get their scheduling act together. And then I pressed ‘send’ knowing I would not be working there again. I’m totally aware I’m replaceable (a billion designers are desperately in need of work in Toronto right now), and they don’t care whether I do the job or not. With or without me, the project will get done. But for my sanity, I had to say what I really wanted to say. And it feels amazing. As I get older and gain more experience, I value my time over everything else and I only want to work with others who also value my time. That is the bottom line.
It is always hard walking away from a job or client that feels like a safety net. Of course, one of my immediate thoughts was, ‘Well, now how am I going to replace that chunk of income?’. But honestly, it only took me five minutes before I became calm knowing that we have to close doors in order to open new, better ones. That job represented one potential stream of income, but there are countless other ways I can earn extra income as I build my Markabee empire. And really, If I’m in a tailspin and swearing at my computer screen every time I open an email from this disorganized client, is it serving me in any way? Even the money I am earning from this gig is probably energetically toxic, so the only healthy choice is to let it go.
I often think of the amazing Helen Mirren who famously said, “At 70 years old, if I could give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be to use the words ‘fuck off’ much more frequently.” High-five, Ms. Mirren, high-five.
So, brave one, I invite you to ask yourself today - what do you need to cut out of your life so you feel better? Who do you need to say ‘fuck off’ to? Forget being polite or doing what you think you SHOULD do. Just decide to let it go, burn the bridge (with love!) and let the chips fall where they may.