Continuing on the documentation of my adventures in self-employment, here's what I wrote about life after 2 years as a solopreneur...
This past week marked two years since I stepped into the abyss and went the way of the self-employed. Holy crap! 🙂
I admit, it’s a beautiful thing to not have to get up at a certain time (not that I wake up that much later, but I reserve the right to not get up at the crack of dawn to haul my ass on two wheels down the street or stumble to a bus stop only to sit in a place where I get half the amount of work done as I would at home). It is a beautiful thing not to be subject to sitting in useless meetings and it is a beautiful thing to not deal with daily office politics. I see it now from a different vantage point, and because of my role as a consultant, I say a quiet thank you to myself for not being in a corporate job.
Everyone has environments that work and don’t work for them. Some folks get a feeling of comfort and security working in an office, or enjoy the camaraderie that a company culture may provide. Others, like me, find their comfort and security and social needs in other areas of work and/or life. I learned a long time ago that there’s no such thing as job security, and that the comfort I seek in life has nothing to do with a biweekly paycheck. As a recruiter and a career coach, I talk to people frequently enough and am in social situations enough where the quiet I get working in my home is something that keeps me much more sane than I would be when I had to be “on” 50-60-70 hours a week in the corporate world.
Not that I don’t go into bag lady mode in my mind a few times a year.
But twenty-four months later, I have built a business model that I am proud of, and I have learned more than I ever thought possible about who I am as an entrepreneur AND as a human being. I have brought sense and sensibility to organizations that needed it in attracting and hiring the right people, and as a coach I have helped over 100 people !) get closer to where they want to be in their careers.
And being able to manage my own schedule? Priceless. I’ve been able to take classes, volunteer regularly, travel, and of course, blog 🙂 I’ve been reminded that – unlike what many wanted me to think in the startup world – there IS a balance. I don’t have to lean in. While I’ve blogged since 2008, now when I write, it’s returned to something I don’t have to do at one in the morning after I’ve finally shut down my computer from work.
The other good fortune has been financial. Yes, I admit it, it’s been cool. While I could have made more (many have tried to advise me on how I should and can make much, much more), I made enough to pay off my student loans, pay off my home equity loan, save enough for six months’ worth of savings, put a new roof on my house, afford several trips to see my (now) husband when he was still in Australia, and support the work of organizations that are close to my heart. I am truly grateful, and want to pay it forward.
Rather than buy fancy things, my entire priority has become to find ways to live more simply. We still don’t own a car and don’t buy clothes more than once or twice a year. We have nearly doubled the size of the garden and next year are planning the next big chapter with my husband – yep, THAT chapter that turns two into three – in a way that is simple, thoughtful, and like in our own lives, doing it the way we feel is most healthy and happy and simple.
All of this leads me to some moments of clarity that have arisen about what’s important to me these days, at this ceremonial passage of time in my current profession…
I adore my candidates and clients! Even the ones I don’t understand and even the ones that make me a little crazy and even the ones who don’t follow my advice. I love listening to their stories. I love helping them get either to where they want or at least a heck of a lot closer. I love it when I have a candidate realize that I’m not selling the snake oil, but rather genuinely give a shit about what they want, not just what the client wants. A truly good hire is a partnership between employee and employer, and I love it when the client and candidate both see this clearly.
I find myself losing interest in the part of my career that doesn’t directly AND positively impact the world at large. Two years taking the capitalist approach, as I have affectionately termed it, has taken some of the wind out of my ambitious nature. Sure, giving 2% of my monthly income to local nonprofits feels good (July’s went to a women’s shelter here in Portland), and volunteering makes me feel groovy, but the distance seems to be broadening as I get older, reminding me that there’s nothing like hands-on work to bring the most value. It’s why the coaching side of my work never ceases to intrigue me – helping folks articulate their story, empower them to grab the reins and more succinctly and effectively reach their goals, and connect them to people they may never have met before. Recruiting? Finding that person, that match, is what makes me happy. I do enjoy helping others, but I wonder if the work I do makes much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. And with that, it means I’m thinking that my third year might be evolving in a new direction.
If I don’t write, I am not happy. Some folks write to supplement their business. Some folks write creatively, as an outlet for their artistic side. For me, if I’ve not put some type of pen to paper or typed a few hundred words by the end of the day, I feel incomplete. Writing can be hard work, but I know when I’ve gone into the zone and pushed myself to put together a piece that really exposes who I am and what’s important for me to share? I breathe easier. I live to write and write to live.
So with that, what does this mean? I’m still formulating it in my head, but one thing I have determined is that my first book that I’ve been playing around with on my laptop, in notebooks, and obsessing about night and day for almost a year? It’s been decided. For real.
My first project is a series that encapsulates my experiences as a recruiting consultant, career coach and writer, designed to support and empower job seekers, recruiters, and hiring teams out there. After being in this field for sixteen years, it’s time to pay it forward. So many people have taught me so much and so many have inspired me as I continue to grow and learn and contribute, that this book will be my way of taking the next step in my career in a way that benefits these individuals directly and wholeheartedly.
That’s the thing – there’s no more time for contemplating. There’s no more time for dreaming about someday. There’s only today. It’s time to be great. It’s time to take my own advice. It’s time to jump.
(here I go!)