About this time last year, I’d made up my mind to leave my job. I wasn’t happy in my work and I felt it was time to figure out how to make money for myself rather than for someone else. Then a crazy thing happened. I was asked what they needed so I wouldn’t resign. I gave them my terms, they agreed to my terms and I decided to stay.
I had a lot of grand plans for the year. I went from a 40 hour work week to a 30 hour work week and I thought with those ten hours, I could build a freelance business and transition to that job on my own timetable.
I imagined nothing would fill up that extra time aside from being a writer. I imagined that I could keep myself motivated to follow an ambitious blog schedule. I imagined that I could somehow be an (almost) full-time worker and a carve a path to consistent freelance work at the same time.
And over the course of the year, I lost my way. There were changes at work, challenges at home and it seemed a lot easier to just remain as I was. I hadn’t given up on my lofty goal. I’d just postponed it.
Since I’d eliminated the parts of my job I hated, I was much more content at work. That meant I didn’t feel the same drive to get away from my job. The job was good. The people were good. It was all good enough.
I let my blogging schedule slip and eventually was only blogging once a week. I told myself that I had other things to do but honestly, I just didn’t feel the drive to write any more. It was no longer the thing that I was. It was the thing I would be someday.
When the new year arrived, I was told my day job hours were being cut in half. I would no longer be eligible for health insurance. I was told I could have my regular hours if I was willing to do the one thing that had driven me to resign just a year ago.
I was never hired to be a salesperson. The philosophy around the job changed, however, and we were told we had to make cold calls on a daily basis. Sales calls, to me, are the worst job ever.
I hate getting sales calls. When I make them, all I can think about is how annoyed I would be if I was the person on the receiving end of the call. I don’t like the person I need to be to get through a day where I’m expected to spend hours of my time doing something I find so distasteful.
That one thing made me hate my job. It made me miserable. It left me feeling angry and depressed and I was willing to leave my job rather than be forced to do it on a daily basis. I was being told that my options were to do cold calls or they would find someone who would.. There was no negotiating, as there had been last year.
So I thought about it very hard. Circumstances last year were different. I had made the choice on my own. I hadn’t been happy at work. Leaving felt like the best of all possible choices.
This last year I was happy at work. I didn’t feel cornered into doing something I hated. Leaving didn’t feel like what I wanted any more.
As I thought about it, though, I thought about the fact that what I wanted to do last year is what I want to do now. I want to work for myself. I want to see if I can earn enough money as a comedy professional. If I’m going to do that, though, I can’t just pretend it is something I can do for ten hours a week.
Staying in my job last year might have been a good idea. It gave me a year to think about things. I’m good at thinking. I’m not always as good at doing.
It’s time, though, to do what I’ve been thinking about.
So given the choice between doing what I know I will hate and doing what I believe I will love, the leap to a full-time freelance career was the obvious choice.
It is not without considerable risk. It might not work out. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t frightened.
I don’t know if I’m talented enough. I don’t know exactly what skills I’m trying to sell. I look at other freelancers I know and I ask myself how I manage to get the kind of regular work they all talk about having.
Especially when the regular work barely pays the bills for them.
All the words of encouragement from friends are great but my friends don’t have to do it. I have to do it.
And I don’t really know how to do it yet.
This time, though, is different. This time I’m not backing away from the cliff. This year it isn’t about leaving a job that I hate. It is about creating a job I just might love.
I’m confident in my ability to completely screw it up from time to time. I’m also confident I can make it work.
It won’t be easy. It won’t be perfect. It won’t happen overnight.
But it is happening. And it’s about time.