I named this post the Year of Living Foolishly because almost everyone I knew thought I was making a huge mistake by leaving a corporate marketing job (and steady paycheck) without having anything else lined up.
There were a few friends dealing with similar feelings of job detachment and disinterest who whole-heartedly encouraged me to quit, but most were concerned about my future career prospects and lack of healthcare benefits, and rightfully so.
I had a reinvention plan, nebulous as it was in the beginning, and big dreams of living life the way I wanted to.
But I am not going to lie to you. Being away from full-time work has been pretty. Damn. Amazing.
Free from the constraints of business travel and spreadsheets and conference calls and performance metrics, my shoulders dropped away from my ears and I could breathe deeply – into the very bottom of my abdomen – for the first time in months. This mid-career change thingy felt really, really good.
Right after I quit, I did look for a new job. Truly I did. I networked, revised my resume about twelve times, enrolled in a LinkedIn course to learn the best approach to take to find that next great job. I didn’t admit it at the time, but I knew right away that I did not want to go back to the corporate world, or even a traditional full time job.
So – I relaxed. For four months. I visited people I hadn’t seen in a while, read six books in three weeks, pottered about the house and generally enjoyed myself. I took a trip to Maine with my sister and drove the RV to visit my niece at college. The holidays came, and I could enjoy preparing Thanksgiving dinner without squeezing it in between business trips. I shopped at the mall on a Wednesday at 11am without worrying when my next call was, and whether I had time to grab a bite before answering a call from my boss.
It was awesome, and as the weeks went by, I found myself enjoying being without a job more and more. Entirely too much, truth be told, but it was so NICE to truly detach from the corporate mindset and fully relax. Much more effective than the scant few weeks of vacation most of us are granted each year.
But turns out that the rumors are true: without the routine of a job, it can be VERY easy to stay in the house, on the couch, enjoying a responsibility-free lifestyle instead of getting back in the game. I never thought I would be subject to an “I’m-bored” mindset if I wasn’t working, so imagine my surprise to find myself watching YouTube videos all afternoon when the weather was bad and most everyone I knew was at work.
So, in October, I applied for a per diem position at a local hospital, returning to my roots as a medical technologist and generating a trickle of income. Just a few weeks ago, I took a part-time position at another hospital, working two 12 hour shifts per week in exchange for full benefits and a solid hourly wage.
Having solved the healthcare benefits problem, it was time to get serious, and put some real effort into a wisp of an idea that had been in my head for a while. I decided to become a freelance writer and marketing consultant, offering creative and business writing services and relying solely on myself for employment.
Yikes – than meant that I needed to actually DO something.
I created a website, started this blog, set up a Facebook page to promote the new business. I networked like crazy, sending out messages to all my LinkedIn contacts to let them know what I was doing and to ask that they keep me in mind. I read blog after blog from others who had made the same decision – to go freelance – and had succeeded.
And three weeks later, I am happy to tell you that……nothing much has happened. I did sign on to write resumes for a client, and got hired to blog for an RV site for pennies (but with a really nice author page and byline that I can showcase in my portfolio). I send out at least five pitches per day, and while I don’t have anything to show for it just yet, I am certain that my first real client is just out of sight, and will move into view when the time is right (hopefully before I run out of rent money).
It hasn’t been easy, necessarily, and I still have a ways to go before I can claim success. I have had to completely change my way of thinking about work, and motivate myself to work differently if this new venture is to succeed, but that has been part of the fun. I am still excited to sit down each day and work on a career path that will – fingers crossed – take me through to retirement.
So, stay tuned, and SUBSCRIBE so you can get each update as I chronicle my Year of Living Foolishly.