Those are the words I said just a few weeks ago. I quit my job and walked away from everything people work for their entire lives. Security, a steady income, benefits, and years of climbing the corporate ladder – all gone. And what did I walk away for?
To freelance. With absolutely no security or steady paycheque at all.
But here’s the real scary part. As much as I “planned” to quit my job for the freelance life, I moved up my timeline significantly and rather rapidly, and therefore did not have ANY of my ducks in a row. I hadn’t secured any major freelance contracts, I hadn’t moved my blog to a new host, I hadn’t written anything I had planned to write and I hadn’t let any of my previous contacts (from a few years ago when I was freelancing full time) know that I was back in business.
I just quit. With NOTHING to catch me.
Now I’d love to tell you that things are perfect [and maybe in a few months I’ll be able to write a really stellar update for you all!], but the truth is that I’m still getting my bearings and figuring out everything I am going to do. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t learned some pretty amazing lessons from simply up and quitting my cushy job with no solid plan in place. So what exactly have I learned?
Things Happen For A Reason
I don’t necessarily mean this in an existential “the universe is aligning the stars” way, but everything happens for a reason. Hindsight is 20/20. I can’t think of any more cliche sayings to put in here but things really do work out. I was at my breaking point a few weeks ago and really did quit my job abruptly. I had thoughts of getting a significant amount of freelance work lined up before taking the leap, but it didn’t work out that way. And I can honestly say that I’m happy it didn’t. I think if I hadn’t felt the sharp shove of “I HAVE TO QUIT NOW”, it’s very likely that I wouldn’t have ended up leaving a job I know wasn’t right for me. Or I might have hung on too long and it would have ended very badly. Either way, the events leading up to me quitting my job kinda sucked, but I see very clearly now that they all had to happen exactly as they did in order to give me the giant push I needed to actually take the giant blind leap and leave.
Safety Nets Are Overrated
Now, granted, I have only been back in the freelance game for a few weeks, but waiting until all your ducks are in a row isn’t always the best way to enter the freelance world. In fact, in my case, I’m finding myself happier and happier that I pushed myself into freelancing without having everything lined up perfectly. I am hustling harder than I ever have, I’m creating more (and faster) than I ever have, and I am really happy. Truly happy. I’m doing the things I always talked about doing but never got to because there’s only 24 hours in a day and I had almost every minute of every hour spoken for. The “safety net” I think most of us look for when we leave a job is just that: safe. And there’s something really freeing (and scary) about NOT playing it safe, especially if you’re like me and have always played by the rules of life.
No One Will Really Understand What You Do
“So, you’re just on the internet all day?” is the most common response I get when I explain that I now blog full time (with some social media management on the side, of course). I totally understand that response, however, because I’m building a brand and business in a completely different way than most entrepreneurs are used to. I am online most of the day and I do “work” on social media channels and write on my blog (that I’m sure many people thought was just a hobby for me) AND that’s how I make money now. I mean, I get why that is hard to wrap your head around, honestly. But it’s what I do, and it’s working, even if most of my friends and family don’t quite understand how I can afford to pay my mortgage 🙂
Some Days Will Really Suck After You Quit
I can’t not be honest about this – there’s a lot of self doubt that creeps in as a freelancer. Even when you work really hard to not let it get in there. A few years ago I was really positive about the path I was on career-wise and a fear-based decision caused me to completely shift gears and jump back into the corporate world. I can honestly say that while I see now why that had to happen (hindsight, right?), I also feel frustrated with myself for allowing doubt and fear to drive really important decisions. And sometimes I get too into my thoughts and worry that I’ll do the same thing all over again, or that it’s too late to jump back into the freelance world, or that I’m not good enough… you see the path I’m heading down. It’s pretty easy for me to drift into that kind of mindset, especially when something I was counting on doesn’t go my way. But I’ve also got the experience of my prior freelance life to fall back on, because one thing I now KNOW is that things really will work out and that one bad day/rejection (or a string of them) doesn’t define my entire career… and speaking of…
You Are Not Defined By Your Job
That’s freeing. Just say that out loud! YOU ARE NOT DEFINED BY YOUR JOB. It sure feels like we are sometimes, but the work we do for money isn’t the definitive definition of who we are or our value as a person. Don’t ever let someone tell you otherwise.
Not All Who Wander Are Lost
I have heard it said that I might seem a bit flaky because I’ve had a few years (2.5 years to be exact) of leaving one job for another rather quickly (4 jobs in those 2.5 years). It was said out of love, and worry that I might become “unemployable” because I had a [short] string of jobs in a [short] time. But I’m not worried at all, because I know that my perceived “wandering” is actually a really fantastic quality of mine. I’m not ok with settling for work that isn’t working for me. I’m not aimlessly running from job to job, hoping something sticks. I’m taking amazing opportunities, learning and growing from them, and leaving them when I know that I cannot bring something better to the table OR they cannot bring something better to the table for me. I am actually really clear about where I am heading and what I am going to do – even if it doesn’t seem that way to others.
The Freelance Life Is Not For Everyone
But it’s totally for me. I am good at setting a work schedule and sticking to it. I work well under pressure and with limited outside “noise” telling me what I should or shouldn’t do. I have clear goals and create paths to reach them. And I also don’t mind being alone all day (something that a lot of freelancers find quite hard). I also have the benefit of a really good husband who supports me times a million and kids who kinda like having their mom around (phew!). But, again, freelancing isn’t for everyone and the lack of schedule and not knowing where your next paycheque is coming from can be overwhelming, debilitating and daunting. But it’s also amazing, just so you know:)
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