what no one tells you about quitting your day job
Christina Adamidou | Mar 8, 2018 | Photograph by: Kinga Cichewicz
“It must be so nice to be your own boss.” That’s probably the most overheard phrase if you are an entrepreneur or a freelancer. “I wish I could work in my pyjamas,” or “Don’t you want to apply for a real job?” are other popular ones.
Yes, escaping the cubicle life is an opportunity to follow your passions, to travel the world, and to choose your own workspace. And while that is a real privilege, alongside often come the loneliness, lack of stability, and loss of financial security. Being your own boss means everything you do, and every single decision you make has a direct impact. That can be very rewarding and daunting at the same time.
If you’ve told people you’re considering quitting your day job and going it alone, chances are you’ve already heard your fair share of advice. But there are eight very important things that often get overlooked. I discovered these facts after I left the corporate world to move to a new country and become a solo-entrepreneur/freelance writer. Here’s what you should know:
1. You will feel purposeless
The first week after quitting my day job was an absolute breeze. Literally. My steps felt lighter, I was sleeping better, my mood improved, and I really took the time to decompress. By week two, however, I couldn’t help but feel restless and in need of some sort of schedule. I felt like I was not doing “enough” with my time, and I lost my sense of purpose.
Humans are creatures of routine, after all, and a lack of it can cause existential dread, insecurity, and procrastination. Routine doesn’t have to mean sitting down to work for hours a day. Your routine could be going out to lunch once a week or waking up at 8:30am every day to go to the gym.
Taking the leap from employee to your own boss is a significant change in lifestyle, so having a set of daily habits and sticking to them makes you feel more sane and safe. This in turn not only makes you more productive to focus on your objectives, but also restores that sense of purpose and orientation you may be missing.
2. You’ll need to redefine what “success” looks like
Having worked in the corporate world, I was conditioned to believe that I needed a “secure” job to thrive. Regardless of whether that job was actually secure, I had to feel like I was doing something stable. Now as my own boss, I no longer have a fixed salary. I don’t get generous bonuses and I can’t take six weeks of paid annual leave.
Working in the digital realm, however, does mean I now have more ownership of my time. I’ve realised that being location independent, while having different sources of income and making a difference in people’s lives is what really makes my heart sing.
Setting your own definition for success and “making it” means you’ll start becoming more open to opportunities that don’t fit so neatly in the “career” box.
3. You will feel like a fraud
Imposter Syndrome becomes very real when you’re no longer within the confines of a cushy office and receiving regular feedback on your performance by a supervisor.
When you’re on your own, you may not receive criticism as in traditional work environments, but you will also receive little positive feedback. No one will tell you how you can be better or what strategies you might have used to achieve a better result, and this can lead to feelings of self-doubt and anxiety.
The best way to overcome those feelings is to recognise them. Remind yourself that imposters are those who pretend¾ you have actually made the leap and are working on your passion. Acknowledging this helps you stay on track to keep moving forward and achieving your goals.
4. It’s life changing…for you
You’ve quit your day job and decided to move to South America. Or you’ve made the leap to start that business you’ve always dreamed of. But your friends and family don’t seem to be as enthusiastic. Their eyes glaze over when you tell them about your plans; they haven’t shared your latest blog post on social media, or they are sceptical of your decisions. It sucks when this happens, but it especially sucks when that person is one of your nearest and dearest.
In such cases, it’s important to remember that this is your journey, your adventure and nobody else’s. Though it’s natural to seek recognition from your family and friends, everyone has their own opinions and it’s important to accept that and move on with your life.
View this process as a test on your ability to control your emotions, seek your inner voice, and commit to your goals, whatever those might be.
5. Networking will become more important than ever
It can be scary leaving your work buddies behind, so building a community of like-minded individuals is important. Networking groups, social media, and co-working spaces give you a platform to make friends and meet mentors who have experienced the same challenges and are pursuing similar dreams.
It’s very easy to feel atomised when you’re a freelancer or budding entrepreneur, so having a group of people who you can bounce ideas off, support each other’s goals, and seek advice from is very helpful.
6. You will make mistakes, no matter how much you prepare
Don’t expect miracles, especially if you’re venturing out solo for the first time. You’ll make a mistake on an important project. You’ll lose your biggest client. You’ll burn through your savings too quickly. Something will go wrong, and you’ll question how you could have been so foolish and why you ever thought it was a good idea to leave the comfort of your day job.
This exact moment will determine whether you will become someone who tried or someone who succeeded. Those that tried will feel defeated and give up at this point, but those who succeed will be the ones who learn from their mistakes, evaluate the situation, and try again.
7. You will work long, unordinary hours
Most day jobs require you to work from 9 to 5pm. When you have your own business though, it becomes a 24/7 operation. You usually end up working 10 to 14 hour days and, in many cases, 7 days a week.
When this happens, it’s equally important to know when to log-off. You are master of your own time now, but that also means you should know how to police yourself. Keeping that balance is crucial for maintaining your health, personal and family relationships.
8. You will feel more pride in your work than ever before
Quitting your job to pursue your passion can be tough, but the rewards are tremendous.
People might have told you tell you how great it feels to see your passion project thrive, but until you experience it for yourself, it’s hard to really comprehend. At the end of the day, all the stress, anxiety, and hard work will make it all worth it when you experience the joy and pride of creating something new, and of knowing that all of the victories are your own.
Life is just much too short to spend it being unhappy, unfulfilled, and uninspired. Go live the life you deserve. I know I am.
Feeling inspired to step out on your own but not sure if your idea will make the grade? We can help. Download the Miss Independent free guide, “8 ways to test if your business idea is worth pursuing”.
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Natalie Hughes founded Miss Independent in 2017, to educate and mentor women and help them make their best career and business decisions. Natalie is an experienced business woman and non-executive company director focused on organisational design, strategy, growth and innovation. Her goal is to help you think differently, work differently and feel in control of your own destiny.
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