As the one year anniversary of leaving corporate life has been approaching, I have been taking stock and looking back at what I have learnt over these last 12 months.
Goodness knows there has been a lot, but what I have found to be the most surprising has been those things that I did know, but didn’t actually know that I knew.
I feel a little bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when she realises that she had the answers all the time ….
#1 I am not actually lazy
I have recently come to realise that one of the things I feared most when I left corporate life to set up my own business (and goodness knows I had a lot of fears) was that I would spend the next months on a sofa watching Netflix.
That moving out of corporate life and all the structure that it offered would see me sitting back and eating chocolate, and when I would arrive at this stage – twelve months on – I would realise that I had actually achieved nothing, if not a few more kilos and an encyclopaedic knowledge of the different options available on Netflix.
Apparently, I am made of tougher stuff than that. The lack of corporate structure has been a challenge – as has finding a balance somewhere between forcing myself to get up early, go to an office, shut the door and not come out for 15 hours ….. and sleeping all day.
But as I take stock now, 12 months on, I know that I have achieved one hell of a lot in this short time. And anyway, its can be quite fun to work in my pj’s with two cats on the desk.
#2 Celebrating the wins is not bragging
Over the year I have realised just how important it is to celebrate the wins. As I started my business, and kept on having new ideas about what I could do, I quickly became overwhelmed with how big my to do list was getting – and I just didn’t seem to be ticking anything off.
However, working with my coach has meant that I have been forced to take regular moments to celebrate what I have achieved. Even if it was just to tick off something that had been hanging around my to do list for 2 months.
And I have come to realise just how important it is to celebrate those moments. To know that I am moving forward – even if just in baby steps.
I have also started to tell people what I have been doing. This is a fundamentally difficult thing for me to do, because I have an internal voice that keeps telling me “It should be enough that I did it – it is up to other people to decide whether it is worth celebrating.” Anything else felt like bragging.
But sharing those wins with others also helps to make the progress even more real.
And anyway, if I want to promote and develop my business, it would seem that telepathy just doesn’t work.
So, I am aiming for what my business coach refers to as “The American promise, with the European sensitivities” – getting out there and talking about what I am doing, without being completely in your face and bragging.
#3 I can actually do quite a lot of things
I probably always knew I could, but now I know I can do quite a lot of things. Like:
- build furniture, including electric desks
- work out what is wrong with my computer (Turn it off, turn it back on again)
- coach people by Skype without freaking out about seeing my own face on the screen
- write training programmes
- employ a freelancer to help me
- say no to doing things that will overload me
- win new clients
- raise invoices in a timely manner (invoicing was always the thing I was bad at in corporate life)
- write articles
- press “post” even when all I want to do is puke
#4 I have some pretty darn amazing family and friends
I knew it would be difficult to leave the machine that is a Big 4 accounting firm and set up on my own – no longer an IT department, or events department, a communications department. But as you can see from #3, I have realised that I can do a lot of that myself.
What I did underestimate, however, was just how much I would miss the people and the combined brain power. The collaboration with very smart people, and the ability to say “I have this idea – let’s work together to make it even better”.
What I have found out over the last months – which I knew already, just didn’t know I knew it – is the power of family and friends to be there to support you in the hard times, and to help you in the good times too. They have been there to brainstorm, to share and to exchange.
And I have been there for them too.
#5 My body knows what my body needs and it will tell me loud and clear
You would think that with two burnouts behind me I would make sure not to over do it when I left corporate life.
Over this last year I got into a horrid habit of overloading my diary with meetings and workshops, trying to keep everyone happy, and not including any time to actually recover.
That has changed recently, as I am making a concerted effort to book time for myself and get more of a balance.
And as I have started to tune back into what my body is telling me, I have re-learned how useful and critical that is, and that my body will tell me exactly what I need to know, exactly when I need to hear it.
I just have to listen.
So as I sign off with these thoughts I ask you: what is it that you think you are missing – but which you actually knew all along ….