06/18/2013 02:57 pm ET Updated Aug 18, 2013

Was I Crazy to Quit My Job?

Like Johnny Paycheck crooned in the 1970s, I took this job and shoved it.

Yes, I have left my full-time job of six years to... pursue other opportunities. Start the next chapter. Explore exciting new possibilities.

In other words, I'm unemployed.

Am I crazy? In this economy? Especially for a baby boomer like myself, this move may have been career hari kari. Let's just say that hiring managers do not typically knock down boomer doors.

I concede that it is a risky move for someone not quite ready for retirement. But it was not a decision made in haste. For some time, I struggled to maintain my focus and self-esteem in a job that became a source of escalating stress and dwindling satisfaction.

How did I deal with the stress? Not well. I put on some weight. Night after restless night, my troubled dreams awakened me with a start and left me exhausted in the morning. I came to work braced for battle -- not exactly conducive to creativity and productivity.

The final smack of realization came at my last dental appointment. When I complained of sensitivity in my mouth, the dentist discovered that I had three cracked molars due to teeth grinding. "Are you under stress?" he asked me. "Mbjiey fjeji oksjl," I answered, as one does with a mouth full of dental implements.

OK. I knew I had to do make some changes in my life if I wanted to preserve my health and sanity.

My husband, bless him, was totally supportive even though it meant a cut in our income. He encouraged me to work on the novel that I've started and put aside so many times while I look for a new job.

Still and all, I had regrets about leaving. My job was an important part of my identity for a long time and I truly enjoyed the work. But things changed.

I bit the bullet. And like a cowboy tipping his hat astride his trusty horse, I am turning down the dusty trail and galloping into... no, not the sunset. The sunrise.

As surely as the sun will rise, life will go on and everything will be OK. I've got work to do.

I face the future with a bit of trepidation, but feel confident that I will land on my feet, gently, without losing my balance.

And if I do, I'll pick myself up and try again.