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Growing up, I was pretty emotionally unstable.

By the time I got to high school, I cried myself to sleep nearly every other night. I thought no one liked me. I had no one to talk to but my mentally ill father, who didn’t have a good grasp of how to deal with these feelings himself.

I was a strange mix of academically confident and socially dejected. And it hurt. A lot.

Then I grew up and somehow, amazingly, got that life that I always dreamed about.

The stable family that loves spending time together. Enough money in the bank that we can take fun vacations whenever we can carve out the time. Friends who want to get together for tea or go to concerts.

I know when I wished for all this, when it was the light in my dark teenage life, I promised to never, ever be ungrateful.

But that ache, that gnawing feeling inside … it never quite went away.

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I’ve been thinking about how to live a more generous life lately.

Maybe it’s because I feel like I have so much to be grateful for in my own life, it’s time to give back.  Or maybe it’s because now that I’ve got my personal life largely in order, I have the time and energy to think about someone other than myself.

Or maybe it’s like Winston Churchill said

We make a living by what we get. But we make a life by what we give.

What I didn’t anticipate is how hard it would be.

So in this post I’ll explore how we can get the most out of Mr. Churchill’s advice, and how you can participate in a very special giveaway.

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Whenever things get bad at work, whenever your boss pisses you off or you have to sit through another pointless meeting, you allow yourself a little dream.

You dream about meaningful work and the autonomy to do it at your own pace.

You dream about working hard and playing hard and loving every moment of both.

You imagine disconnecting from your caffeine lifeline, because you’ll be so darn happy in your dream career (whatever it is), you’ll be bursting with energy and enthusiasm.  The stress will be gone, along with the crankiness and fatigue.

Or will it?

You worry you’re just kidding yourself.  Can the grass really be greener in a new career?  Or are you destined to be unhappy and unfulfilled no matter where you go?

In my own career change, I found some things almost instantaneously became better. For example, as an introvert, working in a job that required me to attend meetings all day, every day was draining.  When I switched to working from home, I instantly had the energy to reengage and enjoy my friends and family again. These days, I average a social get-together about once a week as opposed to once a month (or longer).

Other problems were maddeningly unchanged, or in some cases, got worse.  My tendency to over-commit to projects, leading to suffocating feelings of being overwhelmed, were not aided by becoming my own boss.  I was a lot less short-tempered than when I worked in a big bureaucracy, but I still experienced more stress than I wanted.

I realized that changing careers isn’t the fast track to outrunning your inner demons.  But it can be just what you need to outsmart them.  Let me explain …