The Day I Decided to Quit my Job

Image of hot air balloons flying over landscape
I quit my job. It all came down to one decision. One decision I’d spent years building up to.

The day I finally decided to quit my job – one decision completely changed the course of my life, as decisions tend to do. But not all decisions are created equal. Some set off a small shift in your day-to-day life, others set off a series of events which are much bigger than you ever expected, hoped or dreamed. (More here).

I’d been considering leaving my job for years. It wasn’t making me happy, it didn’t feel like a right fit after a decade of hard work. The main reason I hadn’t left was that I wasn’t sure what to move on to do.

I started to seriously consider what the reality of quitting my job might mean. With no specific plan for what to do next, could this be an option? Make the break, and work out what to do next with a clearer mind?

I’d need to make money somehow. I had a mortgage and bills to pay.

I started reading blogposts and articles and books about what to do when you’re considering quitting a job. (Like this and this). I realised that setting myself up with some kind of extra income would help with the massive fear of not having a regular salary for a period of time.

The least I could do would be to investigate this – rather than ploughing through unexciting job ads, I could look into how to support myself in other ways. Could I find a way to survive whilst exploring new ideas and options  and working out what to do next?

The most attractive option was something a friend of mine had told me about a while before – she was freelancing for a translation company – quality checking and finalising translations. She could work when she liked, as much as she liked, from home or wherever she happened to be.

She thought I had the qualifications and experience to do the same. So she passed on a contact at the company, I got in touch, filled in some application forms, did a series of tests, passed, and was accepted onto their books.

Whoo! I now had a legitimate way of making money if I left my job! It would be ad  hoc, with no guarantee of work or monthly income, but it was something.

I sensed freedom.

I also knew that I could tutor students in English and touch-typing, something both my parents did in their retirement. Again, I had the qualifications and experience to do this. And I could earn a good rate of pay from it. Again – no guarantees, but money, and more freedom.

As I started to really consider my options, I started to think about my skills in a different way, not only concentrating on what I was doing every day in my current job, but on all the skills I had at my disposal.

What could I possibly do to make money? I wasn’t concentrating on the one next big important role. I wasn’t thinking about my career ladder, the next job title. It was back to basics, what can I do, can I make money from it, could I enjoy spending my time doing it?

I ended up doing various things to keep afloat – read more here.

So that day when I decided to quit my job, it wasn’t on a whim. This wasn’t a total leap into the unknown. It certainly wasn’t a rash, reactive decision.

It felt a bit like it at the time. One day I just had enough, and speaking to my parents, I said, “I think I need to do this”.

But it was actually a decision based on many hours deliberating, dreaming, worrying, analysing, planning. I’d gathered the evidence that it might be a realistic solution for me. I’d gathered enough evidence to give me the confidence to do it.

I can’t recommend quitting your job without having lined up the next one. It is a big risk. For some people this will work out fine, others need more security and certainty.

What I can recommend though, is starting to properly look at different ways of making money through the skills and experience you already have.  Things you probably haven’t yet considered.

Imagine for the next 6 months you won’t be doing your current job.

You need to make money. What can you do? If you had to come up with some ideas, what would you do?

Is there something you’ve always had a bit of an interest in but not really pursued? For me at that time it was the translation work. Is there a way you could try it out on the side? Set up on a freelance website like UpWork and do a couple of hours a week? Start a side project? Writing, consulting, mentoring, volunteering?

Could you make the break slowly, bit by bit, easing yourself into a new industry, a new way of working, a new way of seeing things?

Get in touch with me here if you’d like me to help you with your career transition.

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Why Perfectionism isn’t your friend

Perfectionism: neatly laid out desk items

What is perfectionism?

I recently read something about perfectionism, and was surprised to learn that it is less about wanting to do everything perfectly, being in control, wanting to be the best you can be, and more about caring desperately how other people see you.

“Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgement and blame… Perfectionism is more about perception than internal motivation, and there is no way to control perception.”

– Brené Brown, Daring Greatly.

It’s an addictive need to put immense pressure on yourself.

Perfectionism inhibits you. It stops you from taking small risks, experimenting, trying stuff out.

It cages you in.

It’s the little voice saying you can’t do something unless you’re 100% sure of the outcome, and that outcome has to be positive.

It’s not good for you.

So, after reading this and ruminating a little, I’m trying to develop a motto of ‘I’m not perfect and that’s a good thing.’

I’m no longer aiming for perfection. I’m aiming for – ‘I’m putting a lot of effort into this, and I want to do well, but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t.’

Taking the pressure off.

It’s quite hard to let things go. To do – enough. Enough is better than nothing. Something is better than nothing.

What about you? Do you have perfectionist tendencies? Are you aware of how they limit you? Is it something you want to change?

You might also like to read this on imposter syndrome, and for more Brené Brown, this.

Trying to be perfect may stop you from making decisions about your career change. If you’re feeling stressed and stuck and you’d like my help, book in a coaching session with me here: Contact Me

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Top 10 tips for creating a Vision Board

Small images forming a vision board

Why create a Vision Board?

In a previous post I talked about how effective I found using a vision board in helping me to focus on what I want, and to work towards achieving it. It helped me in making my decision to move to Spain. Vision boards are a useful way to visualise your goals and make them more concrete.

A vision board is like a collage, containing a series of images that you have selected, all relating to a goal you want to achieve.

Creating a vision board helps you to get excited about your goal, to start to picture what achieving the goal looks like, and acts as a reminder and encouragement to take positive action.

*Download my guide to creating vision boards ( PDF ebook) here: How to create a vision board ebook*

Here’s what to do:

1. Set up Pinterest or similar app (which act as digital pinboards), or get yourself a pinboard or notebook.

2. Pick a goal (or several), for example ‘my new job’ or ‘I’m a runner’ or ‘my trip to Argentina’. Create a digital vision board if you’re using an app, with the goal as your vision board title. You can create ‘secret’ vision boards on Pinterest, that no one else can see. If using a pinboard or notebook, do the same, put your goal as your title.

Start collecting images

3. Next, start collecting images relating to your goal. With Pinterest you can search using key words or themes, and it starts generating images you might like. Or you can look through old magazines and tear out images, or search online.

4. Select anything that makes you smile, that makes you feel positive and inspired about your goal. The image might not be an exact representation of what you want, but if it generates the right feeling (contentment, excitement, giddiness, desire) you’re onto the right thing.

Select images that make you feel

5. For example if your goal is to become a regular runner, or complete a 5k run, you might select images which represent the pride and relief you’ll feel after having completed your first 5k run. Like a picture of Jessica Ennis-Hill coming over the finishing line at the Olympics. Or you might select a picture of person jumping up in the air on a beach, with a massive smile on their face. This represents how you want to feel after your race. You might have images of a couple of athletes you admire, whose achievements or work ethic you’d like to emulate.

6. Maybe you’re dying to visit Argentina, you find an image of a mysterious, elegant couple dancing tango in the middle of a street in Buenos Aires. You select pictures of the amazing food you’re going to sample, and the cool restaurants you’re going to visit. Anything that reminds you what you want, and inspires feeling.

7. If your goal is to find a new job or change career, you might include images of what you’d love your place of work to look like (office/home/studio/café etc), images to represent the sort of environment you want to be in. If you’d like your commute to involve a 10-minute stroll through a park, you could choose images to represent that. You might include images of people, the kind of people you’d like to work with, or ideal clients. Include details of as many aspects as you can think of, to build up a picture of your day.

Bin anything that doesn’t inspire you

8. Tweak your vision board – anything that doesn’t make you feel great, bin. Add to it as you go along and feel inspired.

9. Now that you’ve carefully curated your vision board – make sure you look at it regularly. Every day at least. Ideally throughout the day. When you’re on hold on the phone. Before bed, when you wake up, when you’re taking a 5 minute break. When you’re making a cup of tea. Look at it and let yourself enjoy the buzz you get from it. Let yourself feel excited. Let yourself be propelled to take a little action step towards achieving your goal.

10. Finally – enjoy! Have fun, get creative, dare to dream, don’t feel a though you have to show your vision board to anyone.

Knowing what you want

When I’d created my vision boards I found that it was like my exciting little secret, this little world I’d created where the images bought me joy and motivation. It’s a great feeling knowing exactly what you want.

And as far as I’m concerned, it works. The more you focus on what you want, the more likely something is to happen.

I created a vision board called ‘I’m a writer’, before I knew it my boss had asked me to create copy for our website and marketing, and I’d started a personal blog.

I created a vision board called ‘I’m a salsa dancer’, and I finally found a salsa class that I love.

My vision board focussed on my new life in Spain has well and truly come to life.

Try it

Just try it. Even if it helps you clarify whether or not you really want something, it’s a useful process to go through. And it might just create a little magic.

*Download my guide to creating vision boards (PDF ebook) here: How to create a vision board ebook*

Be sure to contact me if you need help on clarifying your goals, making decisions and taking action. If you’re feeling stuck, stressed, or considering a change in career, I can help.

Finally, please share this post with someone who you think might enjoy it. Here’s the link.

Imposter Syndrome

Person sat on a railing over water, imposter syndrome

I read an article about imposter syndrome the other day: This Is How You Get Rid of Imposter Syndrome.

“You’ve probably blamed luck or other factors for your success instead of embracing the fact that you were responsible. You, my friend, have experienced imposter syndrome.”

It got me thinking.

When I first applied for my job in advertising, over a decade ago, I felt really confident completing the application. My skills and experience matched the criteria; I had experience working in an international environment and spoke French. And I was enthusiastic about working in the magazine industry.

I really wanted the job.

Waiting to go in to the interview (or coming out, I can’t remember which), I saw a girl I knew, a friend of a friend, also going for an interview for the same role. We had a brief chat.

A couple of days later, they offered me the job. However, for some reason I decided that they had probably offered the job to this other girl first, thinking that she must have turned it down.

I said something along these lines to my Dad, who asked why on earth I would even think such a thing. Why wasn’t I confident enough in myself to assume I’d been offered the job because I was perfect for the job?

During the ten years I worked for that company, I still felt like an imposter, right up until the end. The first few years I enjoyed it, but I quite often felt on tenterhooks, expecting to be found for I don’t know what. Not being good enough at the job?

Where did this lack of confidence come from?

Is it a perfectionist thing, always trying to be perfect and never make any mistakes, and massively fearing making any? Possibly? (read here)

Later on, as a sales manager, I didn’t feel good enough. I didn’t feel chatty/salesy/showy enough. I’m quiet, reflective, I listen. I don’t have the gift of the gab. Quite often I prefer to listen than to talk. I felt that you needed to be the opposite in the industry I worked in. It became stressful.

I concentrated more on ‘I’m not the right person for the job’ rather than ‘this job’s not right for me’.

One quote that stuck in my mind when going through a tricky time in this company, was from Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement address:

‘Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.

This for me was imposter syndrome. Feeling as though I was playing a role in someone else’s life. This wasn’t where I was supposed to be.

Is it you, or is it the job?

If you’re feeling like this, I think it’s really important to take stock. Is it that you need to build up your confidence, find a way to lose this feeling of “phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.”

Carry on with the work you are doing, and realise that you are as capable, talented, intelligent, interesting, as everyone else?

Or, do you need to take a reality check, and realise that the work you’re doing or the company you work for, isn’t right for you? It doesn’t suit your personality, values or lifestyle? Is it time to for a change?

If you’d like my help in getting unstuck and changing your job or career, book in for a discovery session with me here. We can talk things through.

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