Two years ago, I was sitting at my desk, trying to wrap my head around all of the work I had to complete, with very little time or support from my colleagues. I felt trapped, undervalued and overwhelmed.
For several months, I had been trying to perform with the same enthusiasm and detail as I did when I started the job, but with the workload of two regional representatives, it was too much.
On a Friday, my supervisor sent an email about my inability to catch up on my tasks, and I had had enough.
The toxic environment, refusal to offer assistance and disregard of common sense broke my last straw.
I didn’t have another job lined up, but I needed to get away from there as quickly as possible. I took a leap of faith, and the following Monday, I put my notice in.
Since then, I have been freelancing as a writer, editor and media professional. Although it’s often a stressful hustle to pay bills and maintain my finances as a business owner, I’d choose working for myself any day.
In a matter of days, I was free from the job that stifled my creativity; took all of my energy; left me with nothing to give to myself, family or friends; and made me feel like I was dying inside, to total freedom.
I’ve faced so many challenges on this self-employed journey, and I have learned so many valuable lessons. Here are a few nuggets of truth and wisdom that life taught me after I quit my 9-to-5.
1. Freedom can be debilitating.
This is the most peculiar dynamic I’ve ever experienced. Now I know that it might not make sense that freedom can hold you back or keep you from doing something, but it can, if you don’t realize its purpose. In other words, having the freedom to do what you want, when you want and how you want means that there are so many choices. Sometimes there are too many decisions to make, and you don’t have time to process or figure out what to do. This is especially true if you need to make sure you “adult”, aka pay your bills while being your own boss.
2. What I can, can’t, will or won’t accomplish is up to me.
Quitting my full-time job opened a world of opportunity for me. I could literally go in a thousand directions, and my ability to choose and be successful at anything that I tried was up to me. If I didn’t believe that I could do it, then I was the one holding myself back. Everything begins and ends with the mind when it comes to turning visions into reality, or nothing into something.
3. Intuition is everything.
It’s so easy to get caught up in what you need to do versus what you are called to do. It’s so easy to get sidetracked, and end up doing things for money versus passion. The same goes for what other people see you doing as opposed to what you feel your gut is telling you to do. It’s important to tune in to what it is you really need and desire, and take a hard look at what will truly make you happy.
4. When things don’t work out, choose a different route.
Sometimes I feel like I need to do more to make up the income I lost when I left my 9-to-5. However, everything I have tried – applying for jobs on my own, with creative talent agencies, etc. has not worked out. These doors have been closed to me repeatedly, so I believe that this is a sign that I need to stop trying and focus on finding and doing more of the work I love. The money will come.
5. Being well is essential.
Working for yourself immediately rips the mask off of you and your life. Life becomes a mirror. When everything is on you; when you’ve broken out of the box; you realize that the life you live is a reflection of your spiritual, mental, physical, financial and emotional health. Choosing the freelance life revealed unresolved pain, issues and insecurities. I couldn’t hide behind my cubicle, position, or working 40 plus hours a week. It’s also difficult to ignore yourself, your emotions and how life is affecting you, when everything you desire is linked to your overall well-being. You must be healthy – emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally to make your new life work for you.