As cliché as it sounds, everything really does happen for reason. Thinking back to two years ago, I enjoyed my job but an unexpected divorce thrust me into being a single mom of three kids, and doing it on $34K a year just wasn’t enough to make ends meet. To put it simply, I found myself struggling and a raise was nowhere in sight.
I first took on a part time job on the weekends but not only did that not improve my situation, I was away from my children even more. I made the tough decision to switch careers and seek a full-time position that paid more. I joined a new company and everything went well – for a while.
(Very) Humble Beginnings
We are often stuck in a rut until we are forced by circumstances to act. One payday morning in January 2016, I logged into my checking account only to find my direct deposit was hundreds less than usual. Assuming it was a mistake of some kind, I shot a quick email to the HR rep and proceeded to go into work. Upon my arrival, a meeting was called and I and three other coworkers were informed that our pay rate had been changed. Just like that, no warning, no nothing.
After the initial shock—and anger—something magical happened. Up until that point, I had done everything that society tells us to do—go to school, graduate, find a job and work 40+ years until retirement. I didn’t factor in the long commute times, the burnout, or if I’d even be well enough to enjoy my retirement after being run ragged in corporate America.
The issue with my paycheck went way beyond a wakeup call. I discovered it was never about the money. Yes, I switched careers in the effort to make ends meet but when money is taken away from you, you begin to value what’s really important. Rather than dwell on what happened to me, I decided to use it as fuel for chasing my own dreams.
I realized that working for a company did not come with guarantees any more than freelancing did. It was at that moment that I began to devise a plan for leaving my day job and working for myself full time.
Luckily, my day job involved very little human interaction and I used this to my advantage by spending my workday listening to podcasts, webinars and audiobooks. I began to brainstorm ideas, seek out freelance opportunities and I learned a lot in the process. I began to use my time more constructively; I took notes, I did seminars, I signed up for webinars, and I even did some courses on Udemy to gain new skills. I also began to create a vision of the life I wanted. I realized it would only be reality if I truly believed it could work. Something as awful as a pay cut was actually the catalyst for starting my own business.
I started freelance writing on the side and over the course of eight months I went from making about $200 extra a month to nearly replacing the income from my day job. The closer I got to matching my income, the more apprehensive I became. I would put off leaving my job, telling myself I needed one more paycheck.
My foray into becoming my own boss was slow going at first, but I was actually making money and each month I continued to earn even more. I slowly began to realize that even though I wasn’t leaving my home to do a part-time job, I still had very little time to do anything I would like to do or even needed to do.
I knew I needed to change my mindset and confront my fears if I was ever going to work for myself. I was listening to experts who were living it and I wanted to live it too. I found it remarkable how happy these people sounded. It was indescribable. If pursuing your dreams had a sound, it would sound like that.
Making the Leap
I began consulting with a life coach who helped push me in the right direction, give me ideas, and generally help me get over the fear of leaving my job. Was I scared? Heck yeah! But I got to the point where the fear got outweighed by the unknown, and I was ready to take the leap no matter what came my way.
I put off quitting my job for months but now, as I sit here today, I write for a living; I’m my own boss and it feels amazing. I make money from my laptop and I’m able to travel as often as I like. I have even started the process of relocating my family to sunny Florida.
Overcoming fear is not something that is easy for any of us. There will be days when you question whether or not you can really do it, and as the old adage goes- if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.
My best advice is to seek out like-minded individuals who support your goals, dreams and aspirations. Don’t waste your time trying to convince naysayers and non-believers. Not everyone will see your vision and the way that you do and that’s okay. Join mastermind groups, seek out a life coach or mentor and do as much research as you can.
More than that, implement what you’ve learned and just get started. There will never be a ‘perfect time’ to start your own business, but putting it off does nothing but delay your greatness.
Author: Cerissa Jordan is a freelance writer for sites like Udemy and founder of the Hustle Genius and One Fit Boss brands. Her work has appeared on Slant News and Taboo News. She’s a mother of three, an avid traveler and is a self-proclaimed hip-hop aficionado. Follow her on Twitter @hustle_genius.