On February 1st, I embarked on a new personal and professional journey: I left my corporate career to spend more time with my family and try my hand at freelance marketing.
I’m in the early days of this major transition, so I’m hesitant to draw any conclusions to answer the question “how’s it going?” But, I thought I’d share my decision-making process for those of you who may feel a similar pull to break out of the corporate world.
Even before I had children, I started to consider the opportunity modern technology provides in allowing us to work remotely, particularly in the marketing career I was in. I dreamed of working from home while my future children were little, giving me the flexibility not necessarily to play with them all day long, but to be available for field trips, practices, after-school snacks, and sick days.
When I had my daughter, I was working full-time for a modest income with a long commute and limited paid time off. Drawbacks aside, I did love my job. My former boss is a mom of young children and consequently very understanding, the company was very supportive of their staff and offered great benefits to promote employee retention, and the work was challenging and interesting. In short, it was close to everything I could’ve wanted in a corporate work environment. Still, I was miserable.
I was not living out my priorities. Work obligations, even minor, took precedence in my allocation of time and energy over family obligations. I was not the breadwinner, so this really didn’t benefit anyone (except my employer).
How I Made it Work
After many (many, many) months of consideration, I resigned in January. A few notes on how I was able to make that decision:
- We crunched the numbers. I always planned to continue working in some capacity. My husband is a CPA and very capably built a budget to determine how much I’d need to earn as a freelancer to maintain our lifestyle.
- I was incredibly fortunate to find my first client before resigning, so I knew I’d hit at least the bare minimum dollar amount we needed to bring home.
- I gave up the guilt. I loved my job and my boss. It was hard to say goodbye. However, I realized that if things weren’t going well for our company, they’d let me go and lose no sleep over the decision. Why was I more loyal than they? Your employer will make the best decision for them; you are responsible for making the best decision for you.
- I let my priorities guide how I spent my time rather than allowing how I spent my time to define my priorities. My priorities include serving my family, my friends, my community, and my health. My income should support those priorities rather than demote them.
- I gained trust in myself. Putting myself out there as an individual for hire was and is scary. I had to work on my self-confidence and faith that if I just keep doing the next right thing, this path would work for me financially and mentally.
- I confronted self-doubt. Many moms crush it in a corporate work environment. I didn’t feel I was one of those, and wondered if that made me a failure. It doesn’t! It just means that my skills and temperament are different, and I believe better suited to my current situation.
All in all, this decision had to be a combined financial and emotional decision. If our family’s financial goals couldn’t be met with a freelance career, I would’ve stayed in my full-time job. I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to even consider exiting my corporate job. What I’ve gained, even in the past few weeks, of time with my family and crafting my own freelance career path, is immeasurable.