After four years of working from home by myself I recently accepted a full-time, in-office position, something I thought would not be in the cards for me going forward. After getting a taste of the unconventional life, I thought I would never go back to the Monday-Friday schedule, to the dry-clean-only clothes, to the biting my tongue and doing things in a way that didn’t seem like the best way to me. When I quit my job and started my own business at 26, it was invigorating. I was lucky that I had an entrepreneurial dad and a “follow your dreams” mom who encouraged me to try striking out on my own and I grew up knowing it was something that I would do. Over the past four years I have had days where I have felt like I couldn’t imagine having it any other way than working for myself in the comfort of my home (typically with my dog within two feet of me at all times). I have gotten so used to being able to take an appointment in the middle of a weekday, to running errands when the stores aren’t crowded, to taking a walk at lunch for however long I see fit. I have had the freedom to take extended vacations including 2 months in Asia, freedom to not accept clients the weeks leading up to my wedding so I could focus on being a bride, freedom to make decisions of how to run my business, freedom to call my retired parents in the middle of the day just to catch up while I sat on the back deck. Without a doubt, that lifestyle is incredibly challenging for me to give up. Although there have been many moments leading up to my new job start date where I am seriously questioning making the transition back into a traditional work situation, there are also things about self-employment that I will not miss.
I am glad to leave behind the feeling that I need to be working all the time. Anyone who is self-employed knows that with the flexibility of being able to work anytime also comes the burden of feeling like I should work all the time. I think it will feel like a gift to leave the office at 5PM and know that my work is done for the day. I will not miss the isolation that has come with self-employment. There have been many lonely days over the years without having a coworker to turn to for a brainstorming session or a commiserating eye roll, without having someone to make small talk with about weekend plans over a lunch or coffee break, without having a boss to tell me how I’m doing. The loneliness of working from home came to a head over the last three months when we moved to a new town where we didn’t know anyone. Although only a little over an hour from Denver, Fort Collins is a different world from our past home. We live in a peaceful, residential neighborhood, in a bigger house, and I finally have the true office I have dreamed of since the day I quit my job and began working at the kitchen table. But with more space and a quieter town I feel more alone at home than ever. Without my usual group of friends to meet for weekly happy hours and my favorite neighborhood spots to work at or pick up lunch from during the week, I have had times where I realize I haven’t left our house in 3 days and the only humans I have interacted with are my husband when he gets home from work and the occasional neighbor who I chat with on the sidewalk for a few moments when I walk the dog. Moving up here was the ultimate turning point where I decided it was time for me to be a part of a team and a community again, otherwise I feared the loneliness might get darker.
I am ready to say “goodbye” to the stress of not having a regular paycheck. Working as a coach and as an event planner have led to times where I felt really encouraged and proud about how much I was making and how many clients I had, and then suddenly a short time later feeling like I might never get a new client again and didn’t have enough money to pay my credit card bill. When I started out as an entrepreneur I was younger, single, renting a small apartment, and felt very far away from a life where I would have the financial responsibilities that I have now and that are on the horizon for the future. I am so glad I worked for myself when I did because honestly I don’t know if I would have the bravery to take the plunge again now. Since I started out on my own, my responsibilities, along with my priorities, have shifted. I am now married, own my first house with my husband, and want to have children in the next few years. The security of having a regular paycheck along with good benefits and retirement plan all support the life I’m now building as part of a sustainable partnership.
The final thing I am leaving behind with my self-employment is trying to do it all. As an entrepreneur I have worn many hats. I have learned to be an accountant, social media strategist, customer service representative, and networker, along with my actual professions as an event planner and life coach. There have been countless mornings where I don’t know where to begin because there are so many things I could focus on I feel paralyzed. I lose time weighing what is most important instead of just picking a place to start and diving in. What I look forward to in my new role is to have the physical and mental separation of when I am doing my job at my office and working and when I am off. When I’m not at my job, I plan to still take some coaching clients, but now I don’t have to worry about that work being my livelihood. I can get back to what I enjoy about it, and take clients who I feel like are a good fit for the work I really like to do. I will also have time to write, read, hike, and more, not because my schedule got lighter, if anything my workday just got longer, but the difference will be that when I’m not at work my time has returned to being my own, and no longer belongs to keeping myself and my business afloat.
Sometimes having your passion as your source of income depletes the love for it, and I think that has happened to me. Now that I will be working for an organization as an event planner and will have stability through that, I no longer have to live and breathe events in my free time. Now that I will have a paycheck every other week that I can count on, I won’t have to take any coaching client who comes my way and won’t have to “hustle” for new work, which if I’m being honest has never felt like a natural strength of mine. Instead, I get to wake up, put on something other than yoga pants, drive to work with my to-go coffee mug, and do the job I am being paid to do (and will hopefully enjoy) in my office from 8-5, Monday-Friday with my team. When I’m not there, I get to pursue the other pleasures of my life, and be fully present for them.