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The time I quit my job during lock-down…

Am I crazy...?

Yes, probably.

There is never a good or “right” time to leave the security of your full-time job to venture into the scary world of full-time self-employment, however I’m fairly sure during a global pandemic wouldn’t be at the top of the list for most people! Still, that’s where I find myself and I have to say – I wish I’d done it sooner!

If lock-down and Covid-19 have taught me anything, it is that life is short and you never know what is right around the corner. Why stay in a job that makes you unhappy when you can actually take control of your life and find a way to do what you want to do.

I feel really positive about the future and excited about what the next few years will bring. But – I didn’t always feel like that.

Rewind to Spring 2019, when I ended up taking a lot of time off work in 2019 and early 2020 due to a combination of worsening migraines and depression and anxiety. I was a bit of a mess, there’s no denying.  Back then, I wouldn’t have thought that I would be brave enough to leave my job – and at that point I was at a loss as to what I could do instead. My confidence was low and I felt trapped in a role in an institution where I had worked since 2000. What else could I do? I couldn’t see a way out.

In a strange kind of way, becoming unwell and needing some time away from work was the best thing that could have happened to me. I won’t bore you with the detail, but to cut a long story short, I realised that I had actually been suffering on and off with depression since I was a teenager. I started some medication which gradually got me back on an even keel and I finally managed to get some medication to help with my migraines. It’s amazing how much easier life seems when you don’t constantly have a headache!

While I was off work, I started doing some creative projects, to keep my mind occupied and I found it hugely beneficial to my mental health and my recovery. It was at this point that I discovered a passion for fused glass, and by the time I went back to work, I was ready to start my business (Boleyn Art) as a side-hussle. It was then that I began to believe that perhaps I did have more to offer.

Then a few weeks after I’d gone back to work, Covid-19 happened and suddenly I was working from home and home schooling and not doing either of them particularly well. A bit stressful admittedly, but I did learn quite a few things about myself during lock-down:

But I felt so guilty...

I was full of ideas of what I wanted to do to build my business and I was getting really frustrated that I just didn’t have time to do them. I was even having to turn down work.  I began to resent my job as it was just getting in the way and holding me back. 

But – I also felt really guilty for feeling that way – I was really lucky to have a decent job, with a good employer and nice colleagues and I should just get on with it and stop moaning, right?. “So what” if I didn’t enjoy it and if I felt undervalued and unchallenged – suck it up, you have to earn a living… people sometimes have to do things they don’t enjoy and that’s just life… (were the sorts of unhelpful thoughts going on in my head..)

It was a mindset issue which held me back for quite a while.  And as a single parent with a big mortgage and no savings to speak of, I would be putting quite a lot of pressure on myself…. so many reasons why I shouldn’t quit my job…  and then of course I was full of self doubt about whether I would actually be able to make a go of working for myself…

Hmm… classic Imposter Syndrome, anyone? 

Should I stay or should I go...

I knew I had to make a decision and stop yo-yo-ing between my two choices and wrote a pro & con list. Pros of staying in the job were:
  • Security & guaranteed income
  • Final salary pension scheme
  • Childcare vouchers scheme
I couldn’t actually think of anything other than material / practical reasons for staying put… Cons included:
  • At least another 20 years before I could retire – the thought of that alone just sent a feeling of dread through me
  • Feeling unfulfilled and bored
  • An earnings ceiling – I had been stuck at the top of my salary grade for years and saw no way of breaking through to the next grade (and if I did, I would just be more stressed so I wouldn’t be any happier.)
Then, I did the same exercise for why I should give up my job and work for myself…

So many pros! I won’t bore you with them all, but here are a few:

  • I would be able to choose what I want to do and when I want to do it
  • I would have the potential to earn much much more than my salary if I grow my business how I want to!
  • I would be more motivated (nothing like needing to put food on the table to motivate you!)
  • Without the day job I would have 37 hours more a week available to devote to my business!
The only cons I could think of were basically the opposite of the Pros for staying in the job. So I asked myself – did I really want to be unmotivated, uninspired, frustrated, bored in a job for the next twenty years – just for the security and the final salary pension… OR did I want to take a risk and actually believe in myself and GO FOR IT… I think you know which path I chose… So here I am, with lots of plans and lots of adventures ahead of me and possibly too many different businesses on the go because I want to do them all NOW! (did I mention I am impatient??). I am still running my first business (Boleyn Art), creating fused glass jewellery and making bespoke picture frames. I am also developing an e-commerce website exclusively for Yorkshire based creators and artists to sell their work on (Creatively Yorkshire) – and (the reason for this website!) I am developing training and resources for small business owners to help them to get productive using free Google tools. I had a massive light-bulb moment when I realised that I could cherry pick the bits of my job that I really liked (designing websites and coming up with clever solutions using Google apps script) – and that I have a lot of years of administrative experience and knowledge that help me to organise my businesses and which I am keen to share with you!

The moral of the story...

Don’t just accept things are the way they are because you think that is “your lot” in life.

If you are juggling a job with your business and your ultimate dream is to leave the day job, decide when you want to achieve it by (if it is just “one day, when my business is making enough”) then commit to a time-frame as it is more likely you will make it happen.

Set a deadline. Make a plan. Figure out how much of a financial safety net you need to cover your outgoings while you work your backside off making money – and work out how you are going to get there by your deadline.

Have a think if there are any ways you can become more efficient in your business and maximise your profit. Stash money aside if you possibly can – putting just a little aside each week over a few months could mean the difference between a couple of weeks of groceries and going hungry. I did some of these things then got impatient and quit three months earlier than planned 🙂

Believe in yourself, make your plans and follow your dreams. (Oh, I sound so wise). You got this…!

Rachel  🙂

1 thought on “The time I quit my job during lock-down…”

  1. Wonderful blog Rachel!
    Good luck on your self employed journey. It’s not the easiest option in the world, but it is incredibly rewarding. I can’t wait to see how your business evolves! Helen xx

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