If I’m So Successful, Why Do I Feel So Empty?

It was 15 years ago when I walked away from my highly successful, well-compensated corporate marketing career. I thought I was leaving to open a wellness center so that I could help other people see the connection between their minds and their bodies. Instead, I began a deep and, at times, tumultuous road to recovery from other people’s ideas of what my life should look like.

I had done all the right things—graduated from a prestigious business school, got married, went to work for a Fortune 200 consumer packaged goods company, had two gorgeous children, and a successful husband, and still something wasn’t right.

It was Christmas time and my boss told me to go home and figure out what was going on and what I wanted to do. I had not been “acting like myself.” I was making unusual mistakes. To her, I just “seemed off.” I was being offered the opportunity to create or move into the role of my choice. Wow! Who gets that?  Despite the amazing offer—and the number of people outside the organization who suggested I was crazy—after the break, I quit. It felt like my only option. While the work was important and the team was good, I was miserable. My soul longed for a deeper, more aligned connection to the work I chose to do. Apparently, I was not alone. The number of people who came to my office, closed the door, and confessed their desire to do something similar, was shocking. I knew there was work to do.

When I left, I went full-throttle on my journey inward to understand what was happening when we find ourselves so out of alignment—when everything looks so perfect on the outside and is completely haywire on the inside.

What I discovered is that people are very much like puzzle pieces, where everybody has a unique shape and a unique place to fit in the bigger cosmic picture. You know how when you’re working a puzzle and find a piece and think, oh this goes here, except it doesn’t. Some of the edges fit perfectly, but the other edges don’t. I think that’s how many of us walk around, where we are completely clear on certain aspects of ourselves and in full expression, but then have other parts that we have packed away—too old, too different, too inexperienced, too expensive. The list goes on. Not defining all of our edges, not expressing our truth, is what gets us into so much trouble. It creates an intolerable tension between our heads and hearts. And discomfort leads us to act out, be mean, resentful, distant. It’s like walking around with a pebble in our shoe. I firmly believe that if everyone expressed who they are authentically, the world would be a more sane place. If I’m content with my life, then I’m probably not comparing myself to you and feeling FOMO (aka, fear of missing out).

So, my challenge—or better yet, my invitation—is to explore those parts of us that we’ve packed away. If you have ideas and inspirations and they’re coming from you, the single source, then there is a way that they’re meant to work in your life. The closer you can get to defining all the edges of your puzzle piece, the happier you will be in your life.

You can start your exploration here: 

  1. What do you love? Make a list and then figure out how to get those things into your life in large doses. These things feed and restore you.  
  2. What do you feel should be different in the world—something you would be willing to take action to improve? This is a form of empowerment. Commitment to something bigger than self. 
  3. What is something that you’ve always wanted to do or try? We’re a species that craves experiences. We grow through them. Make it happen.  

None of the questions I’ve listed here require you to quit your job or necessarily require cash, but they do invite you to be alive and in alignment in your life. Isn’t it time to complete your puzzle?



Author: Karyn Pettigrew 
Email: karyn@beyondblindspots.com 
Author Bio: Karyn Pettigrew is an author, Soul Code business coach, and speaker committed to helping people create EXTRAORDINARY work and life – on their terms. 
Link to social media: Instagram @beyondblindspots


6 responses to “If I’m So Successful, Why Do I Feel So Empty?

  1. This article comes at a perfect time for me. It’s as though you know exactly where I am – and what I am wrestling with regarding my career and next steps. Can’t wait to read more on this topic!

    1. I absolutely agree that it is purpose that drives and gives deeper meaning to your lives.
      And the cool thing is the Creator put a unique purpose into each one of our hearts…we were also given the power to choose…the walk of faith can be fraught with fears and doubts but ultimately leads to that place of peace, joy and expansion that we all seek!
      Thanks for encouraging us along the way!

  2. Thanks! This article will hit home for many. It is nice to have a guide for next steps because it easy to get lost in unavoidable distractions. Keep it coming.

  3. What an insightful piece. I love the puzzle analogy because it’s so true. We can look like we might fit into a certain spot and we largely do, but it’s so uncomfortable! It’s scary to be a piece on the outside, looking for the right spot when many others are falling into place, but ultimately it’s best for the individual and the puzzle itself!

  4. Thank you for sharing Karyn. This addresses the emptiness so many people feel and ruminate about. Thank for shedding some light.

  5. Thank you for articulating so beautifully the golden prison life becomes when you spend it adhering to everyone else’s definition of success but your own. It can be a lonely and scary thing to break away and follow your own heart. Reading your article made me feel I am not alone, nor crazy to follow a life path that may be foreign to most people’s but finally resonates completely with me. I appreciated too your invitation to look closely at those aspects we still hide from ourselves. Considering them as pieces of my own puzzle vs self deficiencies to be reformed makes them feel more accessible. A highly worthwhile read. Thanks!

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