Quitting my 9-5 salaried job for self-employment was the most terrifying, liberating thing I’ve ever done. I made the leap two years ago. Fed up of hating my life Monday to Friday, I talked my husband into expanding his financial management business; consequently creating space for me to come on board. I’d always struggled with working for someone else because I hated everything about it; the commute in the morning, having to be there for a set time, managers breathing down my neck, having a set workload, the lack of flexibility, knowing that no matter how hard I worked I would still earn the same amount at the end of every month. The list goes on. I knew there was more than that 9-5 slog that I found so soul destroying. I felt chained to that desk and I resented it. I hated it.
I knew there was was an alternative in working for myself and I’d always envied people that did it but there were always a million and one excuses, mainly the fear that I wouldn’t make enough money to pay the bills. I’d flit from job to job, feel enthusiastic for a few months and then I would hit that wall of ‘I hate this’. Every. Single. Time. I was miserable Monday to Friday but it paid the bills and I thought that’s all that was available to me so I kept struggling on, trying to go against everything I was and conform.
I didn’t fit into the employment world and looking back this was clear from day 1. It never felt right. I’m too opinionated, forward thinking and surprise surprise the top dogs don’t like being told how to do things better, especially in the NHS where I found myself working after Uni. I like working alone and I wouldn’t call myself a people person so all that group work was exhausting for me. Without a doubt I was in the wrong place.
Cancer will change you
Being diagnosed with cervical cancer when I was 25 changed my outlook on life. I was given the all clear that same year but all of a sudden life was much more precious than it had ever seemed before. I felt a duty to make the most of every day and live a life that was meaningful, one that made me happy. It took me a long time to process what had happened to me but the fire had started burning and I knew I couldn’t carry on the way I was. I had to figure something out and soon.
thank you bullies
When you don’t fit in with people, you stand out. This happened to me at work and I got bullied. It was a terrible time for me and it made me ill but it’s also one of the best things that ever happened to me. Combined with my new outlook on life post cancer, it was the push I needed to quit and get creative with what I could do that would suit me. There were no more excuses. I wish I could tell you I quit in a Bridget Jones style but alas I wasn’t quite that brave. True to my introverted INTJ self, I sent my resignation in an email and never spoke to anyone again. I’m not sure which version I prefer.
It turned out the answer to my problem had been there all along, I just hadn’t seen it. I’d envied my husband’s self-employment freedom for years and after a little creative thinking, we, or I, decided that expanding the business was the way to go on the condition that if it didn’t work out, I would have to find something else. It was a big risk and losing that salaried income was a huge shift but I knew in my gut it was the right thing to do and for the first time in years I felt excited about work. It wasn’t the perfect solution as ideally I would have started my own business, but I had to let go of perfect and just start somewhere. I’d encourage anyone else who finds themselves in this position to do the same.
The biggest obstacle was money and I’m sure this is the case for most people. Like it or not it makes the world go round and we need it to survive. The worry of not having enough is what held me back from being brave and trying to make it on my own. Figuring out what’s right for you comes down to focusing on what your priorities are because we can’t have it all. We can’t wake up one day, quit our job and expect all those bills to still get paid.
The answer to this problem is to have and want less. Thoreau said, ‘I make myself rich by making my wants few’ and I think he sums up my point beautifully. It’s surprising how little we actually need. Once you put that to the test, you realise how much freedom we have. The answer for me was to get rid of as many bills as possible, stop the mindless spending, cancel the subscriptions and sell what I didn’t need. I was prepared to live on the breadline in exchange for my freedom. This was never the case because once I’d created a working environment I was happy with, I thrived.
Reaping the rewards
I make more now I’m self-employed than I ever did in employment and I feel proud to be able to say that. It took time to get to that stage and nothing is permanent when you work for yourself, but it isn’t about the money. The greatest reward of working for yourself is the freedom and drive it gives you. I love working from home and structuring my working week in whatever way I want. I can choose to work for what I believe in, what aligns with my values that makes me feel fulfilled. At the end of the day, I feel satisfied with what I’m putting out into the world. When we’re doing something purposeful is when we thrive. I’ve never been more driven than I am now and starting this blog is a natural extension of that drive.
I wanted to share this little story of my life with you to let you know that there’s always another way, you are never stuck. We all have a choice, even when it doesn’t feel like it. There’s nothing wrong with quitting what isn’t working for you and embracing something that isn’t mapped out in black and white. When we’re children, we’re asked what we want to be when we grow up but there is no ‘grown up’. The fact is we don’t stop growing up until we die and we aren’t meant to do just one thing for the rest of our lives. Being alive means we’re always growing and changing and that’s a beautiful thing. Embracing it isn’t easy but it’s where the magic happens.
I’ve learned we’re not all meant to work according to the social constraints we currently have in place thanks to 21st century living. We’re not designed to sit in cubicles for 8 hours a day 5 days a week, take 30 minutes to an hour for lunch and be micro managed. Some of us – although my guess is not many of us – may like that but what are the rest of us supposed to do? Live a life of misery? No. I always knew that deep down but my cancer diagnosis concreted it for me. Life is short. Make it meaningful. Live it with intention.
I’m cheering you on x
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