July 1, 2022

After 150 Days, I'm Still Here

Here I am. Six months into this self-employment journey. Twenty-six weeks since I could rely on a steady pay cheque. 150 days since I've had someone telling me what to do.

It's been hard. It's been exhausting. It's been worth it.

My desk is NEVER actually this clean. 😏
I am still 100% confident that I did the right thing. Yes, I almost burst into tears in the middle of the Walmart meat aisle because groceries are expensive and I'M SELF EMPLOYED but the riches I've gained by betting on myself are priceless.

I'm still scared. But I'm stubbornly confident and that's why I'm going to make this keep working for me.

There's an episode of The Office where Oscar tells Michael that most people who start a business go five years before they can afford to pay themselves a salary. 

"Most new businesses, they don't make a profit 'til at least two years. And then your margins will be razor thin. Best case scenario, you don't cut yourself a salary for at least five years. Can you go five years without a salary, Michael?"

Aaron Shure was thinking about people like me when he wrote that episode, weaving in a cautionary tale for those of us with stars in our eyes - the divers who refuse to wade first - the dreamers who stand before the man and say, "You have no idea how high I can fly."

Before you start worrying about me, I have been able to replace the income I lost by leaving my job. But like Oscar says, margins are "razor thin" and there is no excess for my big plans. Yet.

I'm in the grinding hustle. I'm building my cathedral brick by brick and it's all sweat and blood right now. It's thrilling and exciting and fulfilling and I know that once the walls are built and the gates swing open, I'll look down from the highest peak (because I can fly, remember) and know that these hard days were worth it.

Truth is, I'm actually six years into this business, having started it as a little side hustle back in 2016, so I can absolutely vouch for everything Oscar said - though he probably should have gone into a little more detail and revealed that "paying yourself a salary" doesn't mean you're suddenly making $84K - it means you're keeping the lights on.

On January 1, 2022, I don't remember thinking about where I would be six months down the line expect that I would still be chasing after what I want: growing this dream inch by inch... even though some days it feels like millimeter by millimeter.

I had some real worries:

  1. That I would get bored with myself.
  2. That I would realize how lonely working alone was and decide I couldn't take it.
  3. That I wouldn't be able to secure new clients and make enough money to keep the doors open.
  4. That my computer would die before I could afford a new one.
  5. That the industry would make a dramatic shift after COVID and I wouldn't know how to keep up.
  6. That the hustle and grind would kill my passion.
  7. That I wouldn't be bold enough to get loud about my work.
  8. That things would start to feel stagnant.
  9. That I wouldn't actually be happy.

I'm pleased to report that so far, all these worries were just silly things the devil on my shoulder was whispering in my ear to make me doubt myself.

I enjoy my own company to a point that might actually be problematic. I don't mind long hours without people - they prime me to be pleased to see my family when I finally close the Chicken House door and return to the house. I've been more available to my kids and my husband because I have so few distractions throughout the day that I'm actually knocking things off the list instead of constantly falling behind. Sure, I'll still work the odd evening and weekend, but it's nothing like before I left my day-job. I still feel like my days are incredibly full but they are full in the way I have designed them - they are full to serve me so I can serve others.

I know I've grown since January. I've learned a lot and am committed to keep on learning and asking questions. I am getting bolder at reaching into new territory, I am being unapologetic about who I want to be, I feel excited to go to work every morning.

Before the pandemic, I 'went to the office' four days a week. 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Towards the end of 2019 I began each morning in the bathtub watching Netflix after everyone left for school. I'd stew through a couple episodes of something (probably The Office) until the water started to get cool and then I'd rush to get ready and drive to work for 10. I would arrive frazzled and annoyed and deeply dissatisfied. I remember wondering if I was depressed as I sat on the side of the tub, waiting for it to fill. Who starts their days like that? I felt like a zombie.

In March 2020 I was given the gift of working from home and that changed everything. I rediscovered a sparkle of myself. I started pouring into personal projects. I stopped filling the tub each morning. I liked how the challenge of COVID forced creative thinking at my job again and then realized that not everyone there felt the same way. I started planning my escape and I haven't looked back.

Now it's not unusual for me to be at my desk by 8:05. I love the rhythm of making the coffee and getting dressed while it brews. I love walking through the dew-soaked grass to my little office sanctuary where I feel like I am actually doing some good in the world. I feel like I am fulfilling a purpose. I feel like I am setting an example of good work ethic for my children. I feel like I am more completely myself than I've ever been allowed to be. I feel incredibly privileged and lucky to have family and friends that support me and I KNOW if I can keep pushing forward, I will reach the goals I've set for myself.

I still have so much to learn and I have some big plans in the works. One of the beautiful things about this life is that things are constantly in motion. The plans I have today may not be where I end up in another 150 days but I'm excited for the journey and open to whatever opportunity comes my way. ❤️


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