I had barely even handed in my resignation at my last ever ‘job’ when friends and colleagues began eagerly asking me to write a blog about how to escape the rat race and become a successful entrepreneur. I decided then and there that I couldn’t really write about how you break away from an employee lifestyle and propel yourself into being an entrepreneurial genius, because I have yet to fully achieve this. Also, everyone’s experience and the factors that help them reach success, are very different.
So instead, here are my reasons for why I took that step, instead of how. These are my personal reasons but maybe they’ll get you thinking about your own, in turn.
I had three very solid reasons for needing (not just wanting) to leave permanent employment:
1. The time and effort I spent served no purpose. I was not feeling fulfilled or doing anything I could be proud of in the long run.
Purpose is a big thing for me, ask anyone who knows me and they’ll agree. So sitting in an office, churning out work at a rapid pace, all the while knowing that it serves no greater good to people, nagged me to the extent that I got angry at myself for even allowing my time to be spent in this way. I’ve left a few jobs for this very reason alone.
Excuse the flowery metaphor here but time is like a blank canvas, you can literally spend it in any way you choose to and make of it whatever you wish. Your first thought in reading this now is probably “No I can’t. I have to work. I have to look after the kids. I only have two or three hours to myself a day.” Yes, there will be repercussions if you suddenly don’t show up for work but this isn’t what I’m getting at. There are no constraints that physically force your body or mind into a box and shuts you down for 8 hours a day to ensure you get your sleep. There are no mandatory amount of hours in which you have to do things you don’t want to. You choose to be there for whatever reason, even if it is just because you need to make a living. Even if your job sucks, you choose to get up in the morning and show up at work, because of the end goal of wanting to survive another month. But is that really enough, in the grand scheme of things?
2. It was dangerous to my well-being on many levels.
After years of illness, introspection and plenty of unusual experiences, I’ve become extremely attuned to how and why my body reacts to external and internal influences. I don’t just become a bit tense and tired after months of putting energy into something that’s not right for me, I become physically ill. My immune levels take such a knock that I end up calling in sick every three weeks because I just can’t keep going. That’s the extent to which the wrong life path affects me.
Not only that but my mind was just not cut out for sitting in a little office, staring at a screen for 8-10 hours straight. Heck, none of us were designed for that. It’s just plain unhealthy and yet we’re all expected to perform at peak in a completely unnatural environment. Put me in a situation where I have a guaranteed income and an unchallenging environment and I become borderline morose. I lose all my ambition and feel all too cushy and lazy. For someone like me, the guarantee of a safety net is probably the worst possible thing at times. Because instead of leaping between buildings like Spiderman, you end up lying in the net as if you’re in a hammock on a island getaway. Cool as that might sound to some, I cannot stand myself being that lazy. You get to have a super lazy day once you’ve earned it through hard work, not just because it’s an option.
3. This job thing wasn’t in alignment with my life’s end goal.
I don’t know how other people plan their lives or even if they do. Some girls have only one end goal in mind for all their lives and that’s getting married and having a family of their own. Some highly ambitious and successful people have mastered the 5-year plan and 10-year plan thing. Me, I’ve always had only one thing in the back of my mind, constantly haunting me. As I’ve mentioned earlier, purpose is a big thing for me. What goes hand-in-hand with that is leaving a legacy. As a kid, I really never even thought about family and marriage too much. In my mind my partner, if I was fortunate enough to one day have one, would be ambitious and have a big heart and just like me, believe in his life serving the greater good at the end of the day.
My end goal is still leaving a legacy, making a change that is substantial enough to better the lives of others who might never have had an opportunity to do so under normal circumstances. I don’t have delusions of grandeur, I don’t expect to be the next Oprah or Mother Teresa, but I do believe we all have the potential to leave echoes of change in our lifetimes. And it’s that very awareness that always made me feel restless and entirely dissatisfied with sitting there, churning out words that nobody would care to think about after reading them. Even in this very moment, I do the work I do, not so much because I enjoy the heck out of it every minute, but because it is a stepping stone towards reaching the end goal. This is my means to an end, even though the two, from a distance, appear entirely unrelated. You’ll find that if you are passionate about what you believe in and want to do, a means to convergence will appear in time.
Those are the three great reasons for why I left. There are many others as well. Like how I have serious trouble with authority figures who don’t have respect for those they are meant to guide and nurture, who don’t step up with a leadership perspective but rather a selfish one. I also don’t believe any of us truly have time to waste. Every decision should be an active, conscious one, not that of a habitual drone. Other reasons are pretty obvious. I have flexible hours now. I get to work when my mind is at its peak instead of being forced to deliver on cue. I get to have an actual life now…one where I have the freedom to visit the people I love back at home, just as much as being able to have friends down the road to take my mind off work a bit and just laugh with.
The final reason, and one that always comes to mind lately, is accountability and pride. You can’t leave your job if you aren’t able to discipline yourself and be mature enough to take responsibility for when things go wrong. You need to be able to take ownership and deal with the consequences. The litmus test here? What’s your first reaction when something goes wrong at work – do you duck under the desk, blame someone else for what they failed to do, or do you accept that you screwed up and work towards fixing it? Everyone wants the fun parts of being self employed. They want the flexible hours, the ability to sleep in, to not answer to a boss. But very few are able to take accountability, in whole, for their own actions or inactions. There’s something very scary about standing and facing the world, uncovered and completely open to all it has to offer, and saying “Bring it on. I’m ready to give my all and be completely, solely, accountable for whatever happens next.” This is true not just in work but in life as a whole. You choose to either go to gym or not and accept, in the moment you make that decision, that you own the consequences and have no right to complain later on if you chose to take the easy way out. The sense of pride you develop as a result of successfully balancing out your life and achieving success on your own terms though, is beyond anything I can explain.