It’s been awhile since I have written a mushy, reflective post (Aren’t you glad?), but since today marks a very important anniversary that basically shaped everything I have done for the past 365 days, I had to do it. You see, a year ago today, I left behind the stability, the nice paycheck, bonuses, co-workers, free coffee, structure, budget, and warm office of a “real” job. And I love having this post to help me remember that day because the past year has been a mix of so many things. When I walked out of the office I knew so well that day without really a clue of what to do next, I was recovering from pneumonia, completely exhausted, but feeling a mix of fear and excitement that was so exhilarating, one of those feelings you want to bottle up and keep forever.
I know that there is at least one person reading who might be considering some major employment change right now, so below I share some of the standouts from the past year. If none of this applies, I apologize and will have a delicious recipe tomorrow!
- The mix of emotions when you strike out on your own will be intense and might change from hour-to-hour and definitely day-to-day. The past year has been filled with feeling elated, courageous, on top of the world, but it has also been filled with many, many middle of the night freakouts, heart palpitations and panic attacks, loneliness, regret, and downright depression. Hello being semi-employed in the middle of an endless winter! You’ll also have to grow a thicker skin or feel bad a lot of the time. Or, somewhere in the middle called being human.
- The messages attached to a Yogi tea bag can definitely turn a bad day around.
- People will disappoint you, big time. They’ll have you go through rounds of proposals, phone calls, meetings, get your hopes waaaaaaay up, tell you they love you and promise you work. You might even start the work, and you will definitely count on it financially, maybe even turn down other work. And then they’ll disappear, without a trace. When you really put 100% of yourself into what you do, as I tend to do, this is tough to swallow.
- But, people will also surprise you. If you are incredibly lucky like I have been, perfect strangers or almost strangers who have been in the same boat will offer advice, help connect you with prospects, and generally will be there for you (like you all have been!) to remind you that you can do it.
- Sometimes (often) you’ll surprise yourself. Whether it’s being way more outgoing than you ever imagined, being interviewed on live TV (an event that made me nauseous for three weeks prior), or actually learning to be patient with the way life unfolds.
- Working for myself has been harder than ANY office job I have ever had. I am not a very nice boss.
- You have to remember to buy your own office supplies. There’s no one out there lookin’ out for how much printer paper you have left before a big meeting. And you will miss the heat of an office, even a super hot office, when your new workplace is freezing all.day.long.
- You lose some and you win some. The past year has seen my bank account shrink, but it’s also let me to develop confidence, creativity, Marketing, Social Media, and Public Relations skills and experience, along with connections, that I never would have made if I stayed in my comfy job.
Would I do it again? The verdict is still out. I love flexible work days, being able to throw in laundry while waiting for people to get back to me or hopping on the spinning bike during lunch on a slow day. I LOVE working from home and being able to squeeze as much out of my down time as possible. The major thing I hated about a “real” job were the times when things slowed down, and all I could think about was how much time I was wasting. Now? I fill pretty much every minute of the day with productivity, and I love it. And I really love all of the intense learning that goes on in this type of work setting and life. Even when that learning is the hard way.
BUT I am a control freak, and I like to know what’s next. As a freelancer/consultant/business owner, there is no guarantee. I guess that’s true for anyone, but even more so for the work I have chosen. If someone walks away without following through on their end of a promise, I am back to square one. I knew that leaving my full time job would mean some financial changes, and while I am insanely lucky to have a husband who helps with all of that, I am happiest when I can fully take care of myself.
There’s a lot to consider, and it will be interesting to see where year two takes me.
All I can still say, one year out, is exactly what I said a year ago, that right or wrong, I made the best decision I could at the moment. And it has certainly made my life interesting!