There’s a great new commercial out there for “all natural” cold cuts and hot dogs (yeah, don’t get me started there) where a husband asks his wife if he can quit his job to write a blog and without missing a beat she barks an emphatic no. I laughed when I first saw this, because I feel like that’s a little bit what I’ve done. I didn’t exactly quit my job to write this blog, but I did quit the rat race to go in to business for myself earlier this year, and I do now happen to have time, and therefore, desire and inspiration, to occasionally blog.
I’ve got to tell you, my only regret is not doing this sooner. Besides having the time and energy for the creative outlet for a blog, I also happen to have the freedom and energy to go to a gym now, when I want to. I also have the freedom to choose my clients, how to do the work, when to do the work and where to do the work. I was actually coming home from the gym when I took a work-related call. I can almost see the nodding heads of my independently working colleagues who figured this all out before I did, and who have been enjoying this freedom for years. They all know what I am talking about: PJs until noon (or longer if it’s cold and rainy out). Laptop actually on your lap, while watching tv, sitting at the beach or waiting for your car to get fixed, and that amazing feeling of detachment from clients. Yes, it’s not just the physical liberation, it’s the mental liberation. I am not saying you don’t care. Of course you care. You are there for them – for anything they need, at any time. But you no longer bleed, sweat or cry for them the way you did when they were your employer. Yes, I cried. Stress is no longer an accessory I wear or a house guest I cater to. It’s gone.
The decision to leave a job is tough when you have somewhere to go. But to leave when I had no prospects for work, no savings, and a family of four to support (and a new used car, btw)? You’d have thought I was crazy. But, sometimes you jump out of a burning building to your certain death below because you just believe in every fiber that it will be better than your current situation. I never thought I’d go out on my own. I can’t believe it now, but I actually thought it would be more stressful. But I got to a point where that unknown out the window was better and more appealing to me than the shit storm I was experiencing where I was. So I leapt out and it’s been the best decision.
For example, today, I worked from 9 to 11:30, then went to the gym, then worked from 1:30 to 2:30, then walked to school to pick up my kid(!), then walked home, then worked from 3:00 to 4:30 and was out back chillin’ with my neighbors until dinner, which I made. Did I mention I love making dinner now that I have the time to actually make something, rather than merely prep something? Then, kids to bed, clean up, and a little more work in front of the tube from 8:00 to 9:00 pm. That’s a six hour day of real work, with no interruptions from Bob in accounting and no water cooler drama. Six productive hours, which is likely more than I used to get in an average 8-hour day, without any time in the car fighting traffic, except to go to the gym.
So, what’s your point, Sam? I could say my point is that life is short, take advantage of every opportunity, take risks, blah, blah, blah. But that’s not true to me. My point is life is long. Damn it’s so long. Why not change it up and take some risks because it’s long? What else are you going to do? I remember thinking, how long am I going to keep doing this? Is this it? I’ve got as much time left in my career as I have behind me, this can’t be what I do for another 20 to 25 years! I was going through the motions because I was afraid of what I didn’t know or what else was out there. And, I think I felt safe. I felt so safe, that I started to die of safe. I didn’t even feel that I was good at my job anymore and I knew I had to take action or else I was at risk of one day having a pretty boring storyline to tell my grandkids from the rocker.
I am glad I leapt. I don’t know how long this will last or whether I’ll ever have to – or want to- rejoin the race, but I don’t worry about it now. There’s plenty of time for that later.