A few years ago I was giving a large presentation at a F500 company. It would be the biggest deal of my career and a huge win for the company I worked for.

Two of my VP’s and my manager flew in to attend. We were trying to convince them to implement our product into several internal groups, so they had quite a few representatives in attendance — all told there were about 25 people in a stadium-style seating room.

I was nervous, but had been preparing so intently I knew I was ready. Almost three hours later I was done and I knew I nailed it! With agreeable nods from the client and a thumbs up from our highest VP I knew I won the deal.

We reserved our excitement as we left the auditorium then erupted with congratulations once we reached the parking lot.

This deal would take me over the top of my quota and into the President’s Club. I felt pride in myself.

The beginning of the end

Everyone disbanded, I jumped in a cab to the airport, and made my way back home. However, almost immediately after the taxi rounded the corner out of the parking lot, everything took a nosedive.

We got stuck in a terrible traffic jam, the driver got lost and I missed my flight. To top it off I received a doomsday email letting me know a key client was leaving us for the competition.

Why was this happening?, I repeatedly asked myself silently.

Two hours ago I king of the world, and now this?

I pushed the question aside as I rushed through security and stuffed down something to eat. It wasn’t until I was on the plane that I understood why.

It was my normal flying routine to meditate while parked at the gate. Once I was seated I pulled out my headphones, turned on some relaxation music, and began to drift away. Almost immediately, I heard a voice inside me answer the question I had been asking

“Because you are betraying who you are”.

Those words hit me with a force, though they weren’t unfamiliar to me. I had heard them many many times in recent months.

The truth was, I hated my job and I disliked the environment. It was superficial, phony and void of any deep meaning in my life. No size victory was going to let me escape those facts.

It was in that moment that I acknowledged I would never find happiness so long as I betrayed who I was inside.

I wanted out and my inner voice kept telling me that I needed to find a way out. But I didn’t know how — so I ignored it. Over, and over, and over.

So, I continued to look outside myself. Hoping I’d find the answer under whatever rock I was trying to dig up. The pattern was pretty straightforward:

  1. Ache
  2. Complain
  3. Research
  4. Adopt
  5. Back to square one

An issue would present itself, I would robotically hunt down an answer from whatever exterior source I could find, adopt it as my own solution — rinse, repeat.

It went on like this for years until I realized the answers I was looking for were never going to be out there. They would only be found by looking within.

Photo: Annie Spratt

When I stopped being a slave to outside influences and finally started listening to the voice inside me, everything improved. My relationships, my outlook, my opportunities, even the way I felt about the job I couldn’t stand.

Trust your gut, it is never wrong.

Call it your gut, your intuition, you inner voice is — it is constantly speaking to you. From the moment you wake up until the moment you lay our head on the pillow.

Inside that voice contains all of the answers you will ever need.

The problem is, we’ve become so accustomed to stuffing those voices down that it can be impossible to hear them.

We’ve drowned them out because we’ve convinced ourselves the voices and opinions of those around us are more important than the strength and wisdom of our own.

The great news is that it doesn’t take hours of meditation or a retreat to Sedona to learn to ask yourself the right questions and listen to the answers your soul provides you. In fact, you can start right in this moment.

Ask broader questions. Detailed, specific questions tend to trump you up and,in many cases, are unnecessary:

Is this what I should be doing?

Do I continue?

What is my next step?

You might feel compelled to “do something” to come up with an answer. If so, let it go and focus on something else.

The answer will come from within when you’re ready and you’ll be surprised at how right they feel when they do.

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. If you enjoyed it please leave a comment and share.

Originally published at www.jennieaberle.com on December 1, 2001.

Originally published at medium.com