No matter how much experience you have, when it comes time to consider whether to give up corporate life, the decision is tough. You know it is possible to achieve better quality of life when you step off the rat-race conveyor belt. But you also know elements of the change are going to hurt.
I envisioned that my own jump off the merry-go-round would be filled with graceful cartwheels and pirouettes. But in truth my legs splayed clumsily and I felt dizzy. My extensive background in journalism, corporate communications, small business and web writing didn’t matter. Making the switch from having a full-time job with a 6-figure salary to the “freedom” of freelance writing was not easy. But it was oh-so-worth it.
What I did, and what I recommend you do, is to accept that in a sense you are starting over again. You will have to accept some freelance jobs for less pay than you may have had to in recent years. This is necessary to establish credibility and connect with the way things are done in the freelance marketplace. What worked for me was to stop thinking about the money and choose another focus. Three focuses, actually.
You are in control of your future. And your present. You get to pick how you want to live, where you want to live, and which projects and clients you want to work with. For me, making the switch gave my husband John and I room to take action on an idea we’d been talking about for five years: spend much more time in a warmer climate. On a sailboat. (Done!)
In the same way you have the freedom to create the life you want, you also have the flexibility to structure your days however you want. You can start working at five a.m., take a yoga break in the middle of the day, have a nap, and then work some more in the evening, if you want to. I love this aspect of being my own puppet master. Some days I don’t get to my writing until ten. Sometimes I put my writing on hold for a few days. And then other times, I write solidly for 12 hours straight several days in a row to finish a big project. Whatever works each particular day.
Your corporate life may have been the fulfillment of a dream when it began. I dreamed of being a television reporter and was pretty thrilled for the first several years. But in the last few? The routine, the repeat story assignments year after year, the gruelling schedule of setting up, shooting, and writing stories to feed the beast in what was becoming a 24-hour news cycle took its toll.
So I dreamed of something else. I’d always wanted to earn my living from my writing, which I did for 15 years as a reporter, but it felt like I was very much writing for “someone else”. But more than that, I wanted to be fulfilled by more than what I did for a living. I wanted to live to work, instead of working to live. When I decided to give up corporate life I was able to fulfil that desire, big time.
What is it that will make you feel fulfilled? Full control over delivery of excellence client service? Better work-life balance? More time for yoga? You get to pick.
Give Up Corporate Life
When some people give up corporate life, they experience more stress around cash flow certainty, or cash flow uncertainty. They admit to the occasional longing for the days when they could show up at the office at nine, and leave again at five knowing that regardless of how many words they put to a page they could rely on the pay-check.
If that is you, that’s okay. You have a choice to make: stay where you are, or give up corporate life to live better, revelling in all the reasons you wanted to change in the first place.