From January to November of 2012, I had boarded and deplaned from 132 flights. Six deaths—three friends, three relatives—had occurred in late September, October and early November alone. I was in the middle of a marital separation that was headed for divorce. I had a job I loved,  but I was never out of “adrenaline mode” so I was close to burnout. On Thanksgiving Day, as I floated in a mineral pool in Calistoga, California, I realized I needed to resign. And as soon as I acknowledged this to myself and then said aloud, “I should quit,” I felt freedom. The weight I wasn’t even conscious of carrying evaporated.

On that day, I made a promise to myself to always listen to my inner voice, even if what it was telling me seemed contrary to conventional wisdom (like resigning from a job with a six-figure salary in the midst of a divorce with no plan for what is next is crazy)!  I knew deep inside myself that I needed rest, to put myself first for a while, and that somehow my next steps (and my bills) would be taken care of.

And the miracle delivered four days later when my resignation was publicly announced. A university that I had advised asked  if I was willing to do a consulting project for them. I could work from home or anywhere, and they would pay me regularly. The duration was expected to last six months. Their offer included two visits to Hawaii, where they were located. I felt my heart soar.

Before that project ended, and before fear could set in and demand: “What are you going to do next? This is almost over,” I was offered another consulting gig, with similar terms. And that was followed by another, and a few more.

Every time I am offered more work, and debate if I should take it, I ask myself how I feel about it. Oprah has written, “Learning to trust your instincts, using your intuitive sense of what’s best for you, is paramount for any lasting success. I’ve trusted the still, small voice of intuition my entire life. And the only time I’ve made mistakes is when I didn’t listen.”

I second that. When my body and intuition have said, you need to rest now and I haven’t, I’ve gotten sick. For example, when my intuition told me to mail a check to pay off a mortgage and I argued with it that wiring the money made more sense, I should have listened. The wired money never made it as there was a banking error. So I received extra interest and fees for “missing” the payment.  Even when it doesn’t logically make sense, our inner wisdom always leads us where we need to go. It tells us which risks we should take and when we should take them. And which employees we should hire or people with whom to partner.

Richard Branson, who is also a devotee to using his intuition, has written extensively about how he hires by trusting his instincts and trusting people, even when he doesn’t have a clear plan.

Think about the last time you felt your inner voice nudging you about something. Did you listen or ignore it? How did that work out?

Jill L. Ferguson is the author of seven books and a higher education and business consultant. She is also the founder of Women’s Wellness Weekends and managing editor at Welum.com

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