If You’ve Hit this Breaking Point… You’re meant to work for yourself.
If your soul is craving values like fulfillment, significance, creativity, autonomy, freedom, comfort, trust or collaboration, it's pretty easy for your current corporate culture to feel like opposite day, every day.
Here is the first of a few validating reasons that you may be more excited about a life of freelancing than climbing your way up the corporate ladder:
You value trust and autonomy… and hate the suspicion and supervision of an office environment.
At my first, let's call it, Job #1, I had a lovely transparent plexiglass cubicle door! It was to me, an additional layer of spying on employees, I mean supervising...
Employees were gifted expo markers and were instructed to write on the outside of our cubicles where we were at all times. This system was created to increase efficiency. For example, if you headed to Marsha’s cube and her door said “I’m in Marketing” - you could barge into the Marketing department and ask Marsha why she stole your charger.
You know, efficient processes, drive results - we all know that.
Now, we learn something EVERYWHERE we work. I’m grateful for a lot of things I learned with Job #1, but I must share these glimpses into the wild, wild west of cube land in an attempt to shed light on a circumstance you may view as ‘normal’ now. And, the gut feeling you have to open up your own poodle tye-dye hair salon is RIGHT. Your dreams matter.
So, like many entrepreneurs in the making, I assumed it was just Job #1 that was causing me growing pains, so I applied for a few new ones.
I eventually landed a new job as a ‘‘Sales Manager’ at an upscale resort on a Beach. (SCORE!)
As someone who was previously a glorified assistant at Job #1, I LOVED the idea of being a manager with Job #2. During my last days at see-through cube land, I trotted around with pride as I blurted out to everyone I saw, “Yeah, and the job is on the BEACH! I’m not sure how many people will report to me, but we’ll see, ya know..”
In hindsight, I handled my departure quite… arrogantly. (Note: If you are leaving, be tactful - don’t share the news until it’s official, and don’t brag. Always give more than two weeks if you can.)
Just two days after leaving job #1, I drove to the beach, thrilled to start a brand new corporate career as a manager. Yet upon arrival with my box of cute new office supplies and calendar, I was rudely awakened.
“You may just want to leave those in the car,” my new coworker said to me. I was shocked. When I began Job #1, I was greeted with such a cultural reception. They even took me to a Mexican lunch, as I started on Cinco De Mayo.
Yet, at Job #2, I was treated as if they didn’t expect me to last the day, let alone the first 90 days.
Despite the rude welcome, I hesitantly walked into the new office space, where you could see the beach just barely out of the corner of your eye.
In this new environment, I didn’t have a cubicle, I didn’t even have a WORKSPACE.
It wasn’t exactly the glamourous management position I was hoping for. As it turned out, the manager part of my title actually just meant I wasn’t a part-time employee. It did not rank the significance of my position, or mean I would have any direct reports.
What I did have with Job #2 was a new cast of characters:
- A really sassy coworker who treated me like an irritating kitten she had to train and destroy.
- An older bossy lady, who had just lost 50 pounds and ate microwave chili for breakfast and lunch.
- A 6’2 Boss with a temper, who admired my spunk but was quick to make me feel about an inch tall every time he had the chance.
- A Jolly Supervisor, who was always playing both sides.
And, a new set of issues. I instantly felt like an outsider and struggled to learn with my coworker. (#1) She acted as if she was my boss from the moment I got there. Which was weird, because Mr. 6'2 (With a glass eye) told me whatever I did - NOT to let her be my boss.
But, if you met her, you’d be afraid too! This coworker/boss wants to be, had survived cancer, only with a piece of her arm missing as a battle wound, and was raising a child on her own - she had no patience, grace or kindness left for me.
I had to train under her for long hours learning how to be a wedding planner, how to schedule corporate events… and it was confusing to put it in the nicest terms. In Job #1, we were expected to be at the office at 8:00 A.M. and depart at 5:00 P.M. In Job #2, we were expected to arrive at 9:00 A.M. and depart at approximately… never. In fact, I worked about 65-90 hours a week at this ‘luxurious beach job’ and made $8,000 less per year than I did in than Job #1. That was a tough pill to swallow.
When I finally had my own corporate events come to the resort, I expected her to work with me, as a team since I had worked upwards of 20 of her events… nope. Not even the intern was sent out to help me. With 12 hour days and a serious case of exhaustion, having worked her events for the weeks leading up to mine… I drove to work at 7 AM, begrudgingly on 5 hours of sleep. My tire popped.
I cried, I cried....and I cried. This was too hard. But, I arrived at work nonetheless.
Around 3pm, with a weekend of events looming in our futures, I decided to go home.
“I need to go get my jeep from Tires Plus, see you tomorrow,” I said, leaving, of course, paranoid of my bossy coworker's judgment.
I picked up my car and headed home. I was so tired I could barely see. Emotionally, physically and just terribly drained. Then, I got a message from, Jesse*, my counterpart.
“Just a note, Tires Plus closed at 7 pm. You should have stayed and worked this rehearsal with me.”
WITH HER? After I worked 7 events all by myself all week? Was she kidding?
I just sat in bed, I could only be a victim at this point. This was getting nuts. I called Mr. Jolly Supervisor who begged me not to quit.
I showed up to work the next day. I persevered, but I knew I had to find my way out. I ended up working 4 months for her, while she was on maternity leave. I managed the entire department with less than 5 months of training. This prepared me beyond adequately for running my own business, yet I didn’t know that gift was in my future.
You might have experienced a similar breaking point. I’m proud of you for sticking it out.
I know it’s your time next.
P.S. Here's some fun ways we can stay connected until my next blog post: