adjusting to a new life

Today’s post is a little more on the personal side than usual but I’ve decided to go ahead and write it because I’m pretty sure I’m not the first person to go through this.

I’ve been a little gloomy the last few weeks and I’ve been having a hard time trying to figure out why.  Overall, I’m happy so… what’s the problem?

Quitting my “real” job three months ago to go out on my own was scary, exciting and liberating all at the same time.  It was also a huge change.  I keep forgetting that.

I did a lot of things “right” before I finally pulled the plug on my corporate job:

  • I saved up a years worth of expenses
  • I made my major purchases before I quit my job
  • I had no debt
  • I had a solid support network
  • I had a good body of freelance work, a nice client base and a decent portfolio
  • I had a business plan, knew who I wanted my clients to be, and was ready to go
  • I read loads of books and articles and knew about a lot of the pitfalls I’d face

But as much as I prepped before hand, like anything in life, you don’t really know how it will be till you’re in the thick of it.

My biggest challenge has been the biggest surprise.  Generally speaking, I’m an introvert, quite happy being on my own.  So I’ve been shocked to realize that… I need people!! And having contacts on IM or talking to people on the phone is not the same.  I need real live interaction.  Almost every day!  Who knew??  I manage to putter through the week but by about Thursday I’m going stir crazy and need out!

I miss the interaction and the ability to bounce ideas off of colleagues on a daily basis or having somebody to grab a coffee with at lunch.  Sammy, my dog, is quite willing to listen to my troubles but his design sense is lacking and he really doesn’t understand the inner workings of bookkeeping!

I’ve also noticed that I have more time.  When I was working my 9-5 job, I spent the day in a cubicle doing work that my heart really wasn’t in.  I couldn’t keep up with the design and photography news/blogs and tutorials while I was there.  When I came home, my evenings and weekends were spent doing freelance work and trying to keep up with the industry I really wanted to be in full time and filling in the gaps with my friends.  I got all the social contact I needed.

Now, I have far more freelance work then I ever did while I was in the corporate world, I’m keeping up with my industry and I have the administrative work of running a business.  And yet, I have more time!  I don’t work 9-5.  It varies from day to day depending on my schedule.  But I certainly put in more than 8 hours a day.  Without the distractions of colleagues in the same room, or having to wait for higher ups to make decisions, I can move more quickly.  I’m not very good at just sitting around and doing nothing, but for the past 3 years, my free time was consumed with getting Fine Lime off the ground.  Now it’s just a matter of figuring out a way to fill that down time with something else – preferably something that relaxes me.

My other big adjustment has been financial.  I was very aware when I quit my former job that I was giving up a very decent salary that let me do what I wanted, when I wanted, and still put money in the bank every payday.  And while I put money put aside just for this reason, I’m in a position where I have to stop every time I open my wallet and ask myself “can I afford it? Do I really need it?”

I know, boo hoo, poor me.  None of these are awful or insurmountable things.  They’re just changes.  Changes take time to get used to.  And on days when I feel a little bit down I remind myself of some of the awesome changes:

  • no commute (YES!!)
  • I can play my music loud, open my office window and the let the outdoors in, and go barefoot
  • I can go for a run or walk whenever I feel like it
  • my dog loves having me home all day
  • my office is my sanctuary – not my prison
  • I control the projects I take on and if I want to try something new, it’s up to me!
  • I make the decisions
  • I’m a night owl – I work best between 3pm and 11pm – so that’s when I work on things that require my complete focus.  The corporate world doesn’t really recognize this kind of schedule.

So, I have absolutely no regrets – I’m doing what I love on my terms and it feels great.  It’s just a matter of shifting and adapting.

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2 Responses to adjusting to a new life

  1. Dave April 12, 2010 at 9:56 am #

    Great Post.

    One other thing that I remind myself regularly (you have a great list) is that 5 years ago, it was my absolute dream to be doing what I am doing now.

    Plus, I love standing on the sidewalk pointing and laughing at the commuters on Monday mornings! ;-)

    • Melissa Hartfiel April 13, 2010 at 7:59 pm #

      ah Dave, you are so right. this is my dream… and I’m doing it. that is awesome.

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