I dumped my day-job like a stage 5 clinger. The results? Amazing.
Here’s what I learned.
If you’ve been following my journey at all recently, you’ll know I’m a female tech creative that has fled corporate life like a bat out of hell. It was pretty scary. Like dentist-appointment-level scary.
I kicked off into my own, self-made career like a superhero hopping from rooftop to rooftop. Without looking down. Without the guarantee I’d actually land safely over the pit of despair called poverty. Without stopping even as white-hot terror gripped my insides and twisted, hard.
Leaving your job is scary enough. Quitting without a solid plan is even scarier. But damn, is it ever exhilarating.
I have 5 core things I’ve learned along way that I’d like to share with you, if you’d let me. I hope you can learn something from my journey. That way, there’ll be less surprises when you strike out on your own.
Which I know you will. Because you’re reading this right now. And in some part of you it calls — this rally for freedom and an authentic existence. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but you will take this journey. Some day.
It’s better to learn from someone one step ahead of you, than fifty miles away. At least then, you can see their footprints, and see where they stepped in dog crap. And avoid accordingly.
Here’s what I learned when I ditched my day-job like dumping a stage 5 clinger:
№ 1 — When you quit your job cold-turkey, freedom to fall also means freedom to fly.
To quote the late great George Michael on the topic of quitting my job: “Freedom, Freedom, Freedom.”
I had a lot of freedom at my day-job when I was on salary. I was able to take breaks when I needed, do something creative to recharge and all that good gravy. However, I was still boxed in for 8 hours of daylight. Every single day. 5 days a week. It was driving me crazy. More than that, I felt like I wasn’t able to work at my peak productivity. My energy level was so, so, so low.
I started to think something was wrong with me. I had so much freedom, so what was the issue? I didn’t know why I was so unhappy, and why it was so hard to focus. I started to wonder, am I damaged for not being able to deeply (and I mean deeply) focus for longer than 3 hours at a time? Not so.
Come to find out, flow is a thing. Your inner tempo is important. If you can harness your curiosity and sense of play to explore your best, most productive self, you can do 2x the amount of work in 1/2 the time.
Your inner tempo is important. If you can harness your curiosity and sense of play, you can explore your best, most productive self.
With being a remote worker (most of the time), having a part-time art director gig, and having opportunities roll into my inbox and social media accounts every day, I can set my own schedule. I can be free to do my work at my own pace. When I’m at my best. Not when I’m at someone else’s idea of what my best is.
When you quit your job cold-turkey, freedom to fall also means freedom to fly.
You have power over your career. You carry all the responsibility. And for those creative control freaks out there — this is the best possible way to approach attaining your success.
№ 2 — Time is your most scarce form of currency. You don’t know when you’ll run out of it, and you need to use it for everything you do. Make it count.
You know what scares me the most (besides dentist appointments and killer clowns)? Missing out on time with the people I love. Fear that I’ll be toiling away somewhere and lose out on the best years of my life with my partner. That is a very, very, very real fear for me.
I’m not going to sacrifice my amazing relationship to sit on my butt and pick my nose for 8 hours, when I’m only going to be productive for max 3 of them without a solid break.
I consider my time precious. I have great humans that I consider precious enough to be worth my limited time. I’ve also had more than a few near-death experiences in my life, so fear of my own mortality is very, very real. I cannot waste my life not being my best self or working at my peak level.
When you know how fragile life is, doing something that drains you, that’s repetitive, that steals time from you, and axes your flow, is not an option. At all.
Now that I have more control over my schedule and my career, and I’m able to be home when he is, I have won back my precious time with my partner. I have won back my finite time with my partner, my cat, my friends, and well, even myself!
Your time is precious. Your time is finite. You don’t know what tomorrow is going to hold. So make it count, and don’t waste it.
№ 3 — Hustling for work is not for the faint of heart. But you’re up for the challenge.
Sometimes, being a freelance worker is exactly like how I processed Bill Skardgard’s career. One minute, he’s a handsome vampire on a Netflix show. The next minute he’s a child-torturing devil-clown from IT. It all happened so fast, what went wrong?
Let’s be real here, though. A 9-to-5 regular office job with a steady paycheck is comforting. You never have to wonder about when your next paycheck is coming, and your pay day is generally the same every time. Not so, with freelancing.
Don’t get me wrong, freelancing can be wonderful, and well, ‘freeing’, but it can also turn into a nightmare, very fast, if you don’t have your head screwed tightly into your neck. And if you don’t know what to expect getting into it, you can get burned really badly.
You never really realize how much income stability & job stability matter, until you have neither. You need to be brave when you kick off into your own, self-made career.
You also never really realize how shit taxes are when you have to treat yourself like your own business. Small businesses get shafted in the tax department. You need to be brave to handle the tax shit-storm that is freelancing. Are you taking notes? Here’s the dog poop to avoid.
But there’s a silver lining to freelancing, taxes, and fear.
Deductions. Deduct goddamn everything. Deduct your working space. Hell, deduct part of your electricity bill. Deduct a meal you had while talking on Skype in a cafe with a client. Deduct, deduct, deduct.
A pro-tip when it comes to freelancing or working for yourself: try to delegate as much as you can! If 1 hour of work gets you $65 for example, paying someone $300 to go over your taxes costs you about 4 hours worth of work. If you can use those 4 hours to go do something else, like score a monthly retainer as a social media marketer at $800, that’s you making money by saving time. You get to avoid doing the thing you don’t want to do, and bring in more money.
Delegating tasks also can save you precious time with your loved ones.
And furthermore, the great thing about being your own boss is exactly that. Being your own boss. You, essentially, pay yourself. And because of this, your earning potential is entirely your own. Highlight this.
Your earning potential is entirely your own when you are in business for yourself. And that, my friends, is a powerful feeling.
All the responsibility is on your shoulders now. But, to be completely honest — would you have it any other way?
Hustling for work is not for the faint of heart. But you’re up for the challenge.
№ 4 — Freelancing can make you exhausted. But you should be tired for the right reasons. The hustle, by definition, shouldn’t bog you down.
It’s extremely exhausting not knowing what your future days are going to look like. What? Don’t give me that look. Any freelancer that tells you with 100% certainty that their schedule is perfect, and they never deviate, is lying. They are absolutely lying.
We should rename freelancing to feelancing, or perhaps, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-lancing.
Sometimes I wake up and stare at my inbox with relief. Ah, nothing to do right now, I can watch Mr. Robot in peace. And I get to do just that, with my partner, and have a wonderful relaxing morning. The mornings I would never have gotten to have in a traditional work setting.
Then crippling financial anxiety crops up, and within the next hour I’ve magically been invited to host a webinar on wordpress, and provide life advice on how to best get cat puke out of someone’s rug.
My life as a freelancer is crazy, and if you can’t handle chaos, you are best off not freelancing.
If you can’t handle chaos, you are best off not freelancing.
I can hear you, eye-rollers. You are rolling your eyes so hard you’re creating a magnetic field that’s starting to crackle across my screen.
You’re thinking: Well, Kira, that’s because you suck at scheduling your time. And why even help the girl who needed advice on removing cat puke? Well, you got me on the second part, but hear me out.
Let me tell you the real answer why working for yourself is exhausting: it’s about opportunities.
Working for yourself is exhausting because if you have tons of opportunities, that come each day, fitting them into your schedule can sometimes be — quite frankly — exhausting. And I am a big supporter of work / life balance, believe me, but there are times that you can’t avoid the dredge.
Are you brave enough, prepared enough, and strong enough to understand that at some point, you are going to need to forego a ‘I want to do this’ for a ‘I need to take this opportunity’? I’m not saying abandon pleasantries and wake up at 4:30am every day to get down to business. Not at all.
I’m saying you need to open the door when someone, or something valuable knocks.
You miss out on all the opportunities you do not take.
When your future is nebulous, no amount of planning is going to prepare you for the ‘next big break’. And if you’re pro-active, and strong of heart, stubborn, and driven — those ‘big break’ opportunities could potentially be all around you. And often are.
So what do you do when opportunity comes knocking, after you hustled your ass off to get it to the door in the first place? Do you say “no, sorry, I’m eating a pickle right now…can’t answer this amazingly important phone call and secure my livelihood for the next 4 months.” No, you don’t. You answer the damn phone. And put down the freaking pickle.
Sure flying by the seat of your pants can be exhausting. But is it any worse than missing out on time with loved ones, and not having the freedom to do your best work?
Freelancing can make you exhausted. But you should be tired for the right reasons. The hustle, by definition, shouldn’t bog you down.
№ 5 — Freelancing allows you to prioritize you, and your future path, the way you want. The opportunities for introspection are endless.
I’ve written above about time, freedom, opportunities, and fear. And with all these conflicting, strong topics and emotions, one thing is certain:
Freelancing allows you to shape your path. Through the bravery of taking your own road, you find out who you are.
I’ve learned that I am incredibly extroverted — moreso than I ever thought possible. I’ve learned this because I was able to sit back, process my life, and figure out what I enjoy. Who I enjoy. Who I am.
I’ve learned I need far more ‘recharge’ time than I ever thought I needed. You will soon figure out your emotional and mental threshold. It’s impossible not to, when you work for yourself.
I’ve learned what I am worth, by social proofing and listening to the market value, and reaching higher than I ever have before. You’ll learn your worth — and own it — with all the opportunities you make for yourself. Working for yourself allows you this power.
I’ve learned I need my rich, fanciful hobbies like air. Hobbies that directly contribute to my career, and my growth as a person. Your own hobbies are not bad things, or distractions, unless you let them be. You like them for a reason — use them to your advantage.
Working for yourself can put a tight focus on your motivations. This can be the catalyst for your professional development. If you’re brave enough to jump across the roof to the other side.
Even though the future of my career may be unknown, spooky, and as unpredictable as New England weather — I wouldn’t give up my current life for anything short of my dream job.
Your time on this earth is short. It doesn’t make sense to put your career — or your happiness — in the hands of anyone else but yourself.
This is what I’ve learned. I hope this helps you on your own journey.
If you want to share your story, please comment below. I’ll read every single response and reply to as many as I can.
And if you need help, or just want to chat about your career, you can hit me up on discord ( windows95toaster#3745 ), or email me.