Last year, I was getting ready to walk out the door at my full-time job for the last time.
I was experiencing a rainbow of emotions as I packed up my office and put everything into my car to go home. I felt everything from excitement and joy, to complete and utter fear.
Over the next few days, I spent my days having the highest highs and lowest lows I’d ever experienced in my life.
I went from “This feels like a vacation. I hope I never have to go back to work at a “real job”!” to “Is it too late to get my job back?” all in the same day.
Nearly every afternoon for the first week of self-employment I cried and worried that I wouldn’t make it.
I have a lot of pride and I knew having to go back and look for a traditional job again would feel like the biggest defeat. Even if no one said so, I would feel shame and embarrassment for having failed at running my own business.
Although everyone said how brave it was to quit my job to pursue the unknowns of self-employment, I didn’t feel brave. I felt scared.
Now I’ve been running my business full-time for 1 year and I can’t believe how quickly time has flown by.
How I’ve Changed
I’ve experienced some huge successes, like increasing my income by over 3X what I was once earning and getting published on The Huffington Post last week. My business has also had some serious growing pains. I’ve gotten new clients, secured raises, and hired on contractors to help me with my workload.
But even with all these awesome things, I still feel self-doubt sometimes and I wonder if I’ll ever stop wanting to “get to the next level” with my business.
This drive to succeed is a good thing, but it can also take over your life if you let it.
Sometimes I look back at myself pre-self employment and I feel like a completely different person. I feel like now I’m Kayla 2.0.
Going from employee to #girlboss has helped me grow so much as a person. I know I have a greater understanding of myself, what I enjoy, and what I don’t want to do.
I’ve had to make hard decisions about letting clients go, valuing things other than just money, and the ethics of some things people do to earn money online.
What I’ve Learned
A lot of self-employed people I know often say they would never want to go back to a “traditional” job, and I used to feel that way too. But while reflecting on this during a recent recording for my podcast, I realized that’s not entirely true.
I might at some point decide to go back to a traditional job. If I do, I know what type of job I thrive at. I think a lot of the unhappiness people feel at work is because they take jobs they are not suited for. Instead of continuing to look for a better fit, they just remain where they are and continue to be more and more unhappy.
Maybe some of these life realizations and changes would have happened even if I hadn’t quit my job to be self-employed, but I don’t think one can truly know themselves until they’ve pushed themselves to do what truly scares them. Last year that meant quitting my job to be self-employed. I’m not sure what’s next, but if I want to keep growing, I have to find ways to push my comfort zone.
A conversation I had with a friend a few years ago about comfort zones has stuck with me ever since. What I learned is that your comfort zone is not static. If you don’t continue to push yourself and try new things, your comfort zone will shrink. Now that I’ve pushed myself a few times by doing things that scare me, I don’t want to go back to my little box. I want to keep growing and changing.