I remember the moment vividly. It was the day after Thanksgiving over three years ago. I was working on a client’s Black Friday campaign for the holiday and had sacrificed much of my time with my family that week for this client.
That Friday I sat in the den of my parents house and it wasn’t until 5pm that I emerged to go to the bathroom. I hadn’t eaten anything that day. Hadn’t showered. Hadn’t drank any water. And hadn’t gone to the bathroom. I emerged and burst into tears. I was 30 years old and crying over my job. A job that had drained me. A job that felt thankless and no longer rewarding. Job that felt like all take and no give. A job that was no longer challenging in the right ways. A job that was making me an angry, bitter person.
This was my career tipping point.
In that moment, as I cried to my mom at the kitchen table, I knew something had to change. That in 2016 I needed to set out and really figure out what my next career move was going to be. Not just what my next “job” was going to be. But what I actually wanted to accomplish with my career in its next chapter.
By February I was taking meetings with everyone in my circle to talk out options. The one thing that kept coming up: Had I considered going out on my own and develop my own consultancy? The more it came up, the more I thought about it and began to imagine it.
By the end of March I was back at my parents’ kitchen table for the Easter holiday and telling my mom I was putting all the pieces into place and I was going to leave my job and begin self employment at the start of the summer. I would set up my own consultancy and risk everything on myself, my drive and my skill set. And I was putting things into motion like getting my companies formally established, finding + hiring a lawyer and an accountant, budgeting accordingly (and making lifestyle changes to do so), putting out the word to everyone I knew and continuing to network like crazy to soak up as much information as possible.
(I revisited my calendar from the first half of 2016 in writing this post and I had on average 2-4 meetings or calls with people every week between February and the end of May!)
When I began doing all of this, I wasn’t sure it was the right move. I was pretty sure it was.
But not 100%. My instinct was telling me it was and it felt right. But…I was also overcome with doubts and fear at times. I recognized that I couldn’t keep at the big PR agency life. If I took another job, it would be different at first but inevitably become the same. I knew from experience that changing your surroundings can only get you so far. And that if the work doesn’t change, nor will your career. I had been at three large PR firms in my ten year career at this point and it was no longer a fit.
I shared this sentiment when I told you guys about my new career chapter, but oftentimes we don’t take time to assess what we’re losing by staying put in a job that makes us unhappy. We sacrifice a lot of days and put forth a lot of hard work that we can’t get back. And, sure, there’s always going to be part of our jobs that we don’t like. But when our health and wellness and happiness are being negatively affected by our jobs, something big needs to change.
Self employment has changed me a lot and it has been hard.
So, so hard on certain occasions. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’d choose the hard times again and again because at this point in my career journey, all the good outweighs the bad. Sometimes the risk is rewarded and I feel very lucky to be able to balance my work for my PR consultancy alongside the work I do for wit & whimsy. I blogged for almost 10 years almost every weekday on wit & whimsy while having a full-time job so it’s really nice to be able to manage my workload in a more flexible manner by being my own boss.
If you, too, have reached your career tipping point or are going through a hard time at work, here’s a post on getting out of a career rut. And, if you’re curious about self-employment, here is an article I penned about how to best prepare for it.
I think it is important to recognize that finding true career happiness takes a lot of work and is not ever going to be immediate.
But if you’re willing to put in the work required of exploring what else is out there, it truly can be so, so rewarding. Furthermore, every job is a stepping stone and not all wasted time. My last corporate job gave me a lot to be proud of on my resume (that leads to client work to this day) and provided me with some pretty wonderful friendships I cherish. When you’re down and out about your career path, try and remember the good with the bad and know that things do always get better – you just need some tenacity and some patience!
Have some career words of wisdom to share with other wit & whimsy readers? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
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Mango Jacket (on sale! wearing a S; last seen here) // Madewell Top // Jeans (wearing size 27 – these jeans are so soft and comfy!) // Gucci Mules (last seen here; similar here, here for less) & Bag (last seen here; here) // Celine Sunglasses // J.Crew Velvet Hair Bow (last seen here)