This week marks six months since I quit my job to work from home. It seems impossible that so much time could have passed… Didn’t that just happen a few weeks ago? I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun! And make no mistake – despite some unexpected craziness, multiple changes of plans, and working 18-20 hours most days, I’m truly happy for the first time in YEARS. And yes, I’m having a ton of fun at the same time.
Many people would look at the past six months of my life and judge this whole self-employment experiment a total failure. After all, I was not as financially prepared as I should have been, and a ton of things have happened that impacted my income (not in a good way). But for a lot of compelling reasons, some that I posted about and many that I didn’t, my career was at a critical point. It was simply time to get out.
The first two months I was home, I was almost giddy with what a good decision I’d made. I got to enjoy Christmas with my son and travel for my niece’s first birthday party (two things that wouldn’t have been possible if I’d been at my old job). Money was rolling in left and right. I remember thinking, If I’d known it would be this easy, I would have quit my job a long time ago!
Except it wasn’t that easy. I thought it was at first, but I received a major reality check in my third month at home. In fact, that was the ONLY check I received for quite awhile. You guys have no idea how badly I was freaking out! I minimized things here on the blog because I didn’t (and still don’t) want to hear people pointing out my failures. I’m good enough at finding them (and obsessing about them) on my own.
By the end of February I was applying for work. Frantically. But I really didn’t want to go back to a “real” job. One thing I’ve learned in my time at home is that I will work exponentially harder for myself than for someone else. Not just because of the income at stake – I just find it easier to be motivated when I’m meeting my own goals and not someone else’s. And enjoying what I do has been a huge part of that.
The shift from February to now has been so subtle I almost missed it. As the weeks passed, I started writing less and designing more (thus the new business site, which you should totally check out). It’s not that I don’t enjoy writing anymore – I’ll always love it and I have no plans to stop. However, stepping away from a traditional work environment has allowed me to recognize some of my other strengths for the first time.
Sure, I can write. But I can also do things with a computer that a lot of people can’t. It has always come so naturally to me, I honestly never thought it was a big deal. I’ve also learned that I have near-infinite patience when it comes to explaining things to people. Plus I’m now able to confirm what I’ve said for years – I simply function better on a second or third shift schedule. All of these little things added up to the realization that I’ve spent years ignoring the opportunity to truly do what I love.
When I’m solving a problem related to web design, it’s like time stands still. I forget to eat. I can’t sleep. And no matter how many profanities cross my mouth or how many times I bang my head on my desk, it doesn’t really seem like I’m working. I’ve always read about people having that kind of experience, and I even thought I found it a few times in the past, but nothing has come even close to this. This is a whole other level of awesome.
Where This Leaves Me
My financial situation is completely precarious right now. I’m still applying for jobs, not that it seems to matter. As of today, I’ve applied for well over 300 jobs and have not gotten a single call. So in the meantime, I’m busting my butt to cobble together a decent income however I can. It amazes me how money always seems to show up exactly when I need it. Divine intervention or freaky coincidence? I have no idea. But for now it’s working.
I have no idea what’s going on with my life. I could get a phone call tomorrow and end up working for The Man again. I could hit another dry spell for income and end up selling a kidney on the black market. I could buckle under all the sleep deprivation and end up in a loony bin somewhere. But in the meantime, I truly love every minute of what I do and I’m in no hurry to make changes unless I have to.
Some of you probably think I’ve lost my mind. And maybe I have. All I know is that I’m happy, Jayden is happy, and my work leaves me feeling fulfilled. I’m proud of what I’m accomplishing and I expect things to continue to fall into place, because I believe I’m finally doing what I’m meant to do. That’s the only explanation I can find for my immense sense of peace at a time when I should be panicking.
Do you know what you’re really good at? Does your career truly bring you joy, or are you tolerating it because it’s safe? What are your hidden strengths? Those are all questions I’ve been able to answer in my six months of self-employment. And while I know it’s not for everyone, it has been one of the few good decisions I’ve ever made.