Today marks many firsts for me…
1) First up, I write this from Byron Bay, in a rather lovely leafy spot not far from the beach. Last night, after I’d dropped my bags, I sat on the rocks at said beach and watched the sunset while eating Byron’s ‘best fish & chips’. This morning I took a walk along the same beach, from one end to the other and it was bliss, even in the rain. This trip, while not my first visit to Byron, does mark my first ever solo holiday. Yep, you heard right, not a Contiki bus in sight.
2) It’s also the first time I’ve not known where my next guaranteed income is coming from because on Friday I said adios corporate world and after the first ever solo holiday I’m off to follow my dreams…but, more on that later.
3) Finally, to this post. My first ever blog post. Notably also written on my first ever MacBook. Which means there’s also a good chance it will also be the longest-time-ever-spend-typing-a-blog-post as I’ve no idea what I’m doing and I keep using shortcuts for windows and then deleting stuff by mistake! However, practice makes perfect so I’ll persevere (Gahd, I spelt persevere wrong and spent the last 5 minutes trying to figure out double click to fix up the spelling). You will however note, I was victorious. WIN.
Anywho, enough of spelling victories, there will be plenty more of them, and failures, as my blogging continues! Today is Sunday 15th February 2015 and there’ll be no Sunday night fear for this lass because on Friday I waved goodbye to the corporate world to follow my dream to be self-employed by New Year this year. Now, this wasn’t exactly an overnight decision and if you’d have said to me a year ago, “Laura, you will resign from your job with no solid plan in place for future income, credit card debt to pay off & rent to pay, but you’ll be totally ok with that”, I wouldn’t have believed you. In fact, my coach, mentor and now friend, said something very similar to me almost a year ago and I couldn’t even entertain the thought. It made my body tight with fear. Running my own business is however something I’ve always aspired to, but it was the ‘one day’ goal and I was completely risk adverse and a chronic worrier.
The kind of worrier who would worry when there was nothing to worry about. But, for various reasons – that I’m sure we’ll get to – who I am changed and a lot of that fear and worry subsided. In its place? A new found confidence in my ability to make money doing something I love. Imagine! Mostly because I now believe that when you follow your heart to do something you’re being called to do, everything works out. Instead of working against life, where everything feels hard, you kind of fall into your flow. Of course, I’m not saying it won’t be difficult or that there isn’t possibilities of failures on the way, both are in fact highly possible. But, if you’re happy in the process then it has got to be worth every second. And, with those failures will come lessons that are meant to be learnt. More on the self development part of my journey to follow in a later post (Bit of a teaser there…oh, my marketing career has served me well!).
Despite being a worrier, it’s not as if I’m adverse to change. In my ten years in marketing I’ve had 5 different employers and 8 different roles. Within that time frame I also emigrated, by myself, to set up life in Australia. Oh, hang on, does that negate point 1 above? Nah, I’m pretty sure choosing a new country to live in does not count as a holiday! In fairness though, it probably did take me a good year in Oz to feel fully settled and not just on an extended holiday. I’m someone who’s always been looking for the next something, the next challenge, the next task to get my teeth into, the next thing I can achieve, the next place I can go. People would say stuff, in jest, like “jeez, you’re never happy are you?”. And what they probably didn’t realise was quite how true that statement actually was.
I’d consider myself the ambitious type and with my career in particular, I’ve always been searching for something that I hoped would make me feel content. A job that would allow me to say, “Yep, this is what I’m here to do”. And then, and only then, could I stop searching, because I would have found it. I wouldn’t have that constant niggling feeling that I was supposed to be doing something else.
Yet, from role to role – although always dedicated and loyal to the role and brands that I worked for – I quickly started to lose that graduate enthusiasm for what I was doing. And more so in recent years, despite new jobs, many of which offered good career progression, I would eventually still feel a little lost. I couldn’t quite put my fingers on why that was, all I knew was that I was never really able to say, with an honest heart, that I “loved my job”. And I’m someone who has always wanted SO badly to be able to say that. I’d be so envious of anyone I met that said they “loved their job” and when it comes from a genuine place there is absolutely no doubting they mean it. They’re usually beaming from ear to ear. So, committed to finding it for myself, I kept moving on, often blaming the role, or the politics or maybe just saying I was just ready for a “new challenge” – “a change is as good as a rest, right?”. Wrong. I never once went deeper to ask myself what it was I wanted, because deep down the thought of starting something else was petrifying. It just wasn’t the done thing. Instead, I stayed stuck.
One thing I’ve always loved, and the one constant I’ve taken from every single job is the people I worked with. I’ve made many life-long friends in the last 10 years and while it was always hard to say goodbye, I knew it had to be done because as great as making new friends is, it’s not enough to bring job satisfaction.
Ah, good old job satisfaction… Recently I came to realise that throughout my career I was always looking for other people to validate me, to say; “well done”, “great job, Laura!” “what would we do without you?”. If truth be told, I’ve always been a bit of a praise whore – always happiest when someone was telling me I was doing a good job. It motivated me to churn out more good work. If I had to go out of my way to do something for someone else to get the result they wanted, I would, ‘no worries, mate’. But on the flip side, the sad part was that if I wasn’t being praised, I made up a whole tonne of sh!t in my head about the fact I must be doing something wrong. On a monthly, weekly, even daily basis I would beat myself up about whether or not I was doing a good job. Never shy of a late night or two in the office, I’ve always worked extremely hard, most likely because it led to that praise nonsense that I thought would make me love my job. I’d often prioritise work over everything else which should have been more important.
But despite prioritising work as much as I did, I didn’t love what I was doing and never ever felt the reward on the scale of the input and effort that I put in. When I got to the “I need a new job” stage, looking for jobs was depressing. I’d see jobs which I knew I could do, I’d tick all the boxes and knew I could do it and do it well but the thought of applying (and worse, getting it) made my soul shrivel a little. I often wondered if other people felt this lost in their career too or was there maybe something wrong with me? Maybe this was just life? Maybe everyone feels like this about their career? I complained about jobs to friends that complained about their jobs. We complained together. Often over wine. Both the complaining and the wine seemed to make us feel better. But, I’ve always been someone who believes that if you don’t like something, change it. But changing it never seemed to bring the right result and quite frankly it was exhausting. The problem wasn’t changing, the problem was making the right change.
I remember in my final year of high school, being in a lecture room in school where we listened to a presentation from UCAS (The Universities and College Administration Service, for those not in the know on the education system in the UK) I don’t remember the content of the presentation but what I do remember is the size of the book we got afterwards which listed every University and College in the UK and every course you could apply to do there. Combine all the Harry Potter books, add some, and you’re probably at about the right size of this book. Those around me were choosing a variety of business degrees with some law / medicine thrown in for good measure and if I’m honest, I probably got swept up in what was expected of me and what I wanted to do sort of drifted off into the shadows. I don’t even know that I gave it that much thought. My favourite subject at school had been art, even as a kid I was always happiest when I was creating something or another. But I didn’t study it at higher level because sciences, so I was told, were more valuable. Ok, I’ll buy that. I struggled terribly with science and maths and didn’t really want to be doing either. Maths homework would often have me in tears but I worked hard and tried my best to eventually get some qualification from it.
Anyway, with the qualifications that I did get, off I went to study Management Studies at Uni and unsurprisingly marketing was the subject I enjoyed most and after four years of study – and a gap year to Australia – I started my career in marketing. I’ve met amazing people on that journey and learnt a huge amount and can honestly say I will never ever regret my choices. I must be clear, this isn’t a rant about wasting ten years of my life in a career I didn’t think I wanted to do. Nor is it a rant about the impossibility of choosing your career when you’re 17 years old and overwhelmed by a giant book, although the latter is really difficult! I’m simply setting the scene for the choices I’ve made and I’m confident that I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. Each choice has played a huge part in making me the person I am today and I’m proud of everything I’ve achieved. It would just appear to be the time to listen to that voice inside which is telling me I need to get my creative back on! So, why not, let’s give it a go.
I wonder how long a blog post should be? Am I boring you? Should I read blogging 101? If I’ve already bored you, you’re likely not still reading and I’m ok with that too. An earlier version of me would probably stress about whether anyone would read this blog, what would they would think about me as a result of reading it, maybe I should write it this way or that way. But, in all honesty, I’m not writing this for anyone else but me. I just sort of feel inclined to write, so here I am writing. Easy as that. FYI, I also felt inclined to have a nap about an hour ago so I’m just returning to this post, post nana-nap. Solo holidays rock! Seriously though, if just one person read the blog and was inspired to make a change, to follow their dreams that would be enough for me.
So if you’re inclined to follow my journey, great, read the blog and take from it what you will. Share if you want to share. It will be a blog about starting up a business (I haven’t even said what yet) on my own, like a boss, ’cause that’s what the cool kids say these days. Ask Urban Dictionary, it said so. And it won’t just document the steps involved in business start-up (I’m sure there are plenty books / blogs about starting a business, hmm, perhaps someone in my situation should read them!) it will also be about how it makes me feel, how it changes my life and the way I live it. And, I should probably add, future posts probably won’t be as long as this first one. It must be Byron, making me feel all free and wordy! Who knows maybe there won’t even be another blog post (which will disappoint those sucked in by my earlier aforementioned marketing ploy about future post topics! ha!) Seriously, I’m just going to continue doing what feels right and this trip was always going to be about re-setting, re-charging and getting me some much needed rest and relaxation. And, as part of that, I knew I wanted to write.
And, you know, at this precise moment in time, all I’ve done is to take the first step. To feel the fear and do it anyway. I’m not really sure yet of the plan, I don’t really know what’s coming next , or how I’ll pay March rent, and just so you know – for the worriers out there – I’m ok with that. Truly. Why? Because my intuition is telling me just to ‘go for it’, ‘all will be well’, ‘just trust yourself’ I’m taking it moment by moment and for the first time in my life, that’s exciting for me. I don’t need a plan, I don’t need to spend endless hours worrying about my future or worrying whether everyone or anyone will be proud of me. Nope, I’m simply going with the flow.
“Our Job in our lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagined we ought to be, but to find out who were already are and become it.” – Steven Prestonfield, The War of Art
Finally, I am pleased to now be able to report the rain has gone and in its place glorious sunshine which means only one thing, that beach over yonder is yet again calling my name….xx