“There’s no reason to do sh*t you hate. None.” - Gary Vaynerchuk
Bravo, Gary. Bravo. I wish I would have seen this quote a few years ago while stuck in a job I hated. I wanted to quit so bad, but every time I tried, my ego flared with fear; you need the money, no one will hire a quitter, you’re not good enough. The list goes on. But, the thought of going freelance was TERRIFYING. So, I stuck it out, put my head down, and plowed through – even though I was miserable.
Why was I stuck?
A big part of it was ego. I let myself believe that as a military spouse, I should be grateful for any job I can get. It’s the same reason why I accepted jobs below my mad skills, and why I was okay with a salary lower than my worth. But, these were limiting beliefs I'd made up in my head because I wanted to blame the Army for my professional woes. Though, truthfully, no one was making me feel “less than” other than me.
After this harsh realization, I got the nerve to make a change. But first I had to face three major fears about money, confidence, and time. Here’s what I learned:
Fear: Quitting my job felt selfish. “What if it doesn’t work?” “What if no one will hire me?” I didn't want to let my family down or be a financial burden.
Solution: I learned my numbers. My husband and I spent weekends and nights going over our financials. Together we built a budget off one paycheck. Knowing we could eat and pay our bills on one income was a huge relief. It took the fear out of needing to make money immediately. It also gave me realistic goals to work towards slowly. Like knowing how much money I needed to save to start the freelance business of my dreams.
Fear: I feared I wasn’t good enough as I wasn’t an expert in anything. Do I really have the skills and knowledge to go off on my own? I didn’t want to over promise and under deliver.
Solution: I beefed up my tech skills through online education. At the same time, I volunteered for small projects. I planned a virtual event for a nonprofit and designed a website for a friend’s distillery. Next, I built an online portfolio. It helped organize my thoughts and made me decide on the services I wanted to offer as a freelancer. Plus, it gave me a place to showcase my work (blogs, newsletters, social campaigns, etc.). As my page evolved, so did I.
I started to see myself as the professional I wanted to be.
Furthermore, I got professional photos taken by a military spouse friend. I used them for my portfolio site which made me feel polished. I also selected a mantra. By repeating “You are successful, Michele!” I could calm myself down when feeling insecure. I still use this saying today.
Fear: I had this audacious dream in my head but didn’t know where to start. When will I find time to do this? Can I get it all done? I felt like I had so much to learn. Plus, I was trying to juggle everything else in life like my husband’s looming deployment.
Solution: Baby steps and small victories! There are a ton of productivity hacks. The one I like is the Pomodoro Technique. It teaches you how to focus in 25-minute increments on one task and one task only. I used this technique to break my big goal into little to-dos. Each day I selected one to three things I had to get done and prioritized them based on importance. I set a timer and worked until I finished the first task. Then I moved on to the next. I repeated this cycle until I reached my final goal. It’s how I found time to accomplish my professional goals without letting the other things in my busy life slip.
By facing my fears, I stopped doing jobs I hated and started living my dream. It was scary and uncomfortable at times, but worth it. Had I listened to my ego, I’d still be stuck. Instead, I kicked my fears to the curb, and now I work from home supporting small businesses, nonprofits, and personal brands I love. Goal accomplished.