I never planned to be self-employed. To be honest the whole idea would have terrified me a few years ago and there are days when it still does. The comfort and reliability of being an employee with a good salary, pension and all the other perks meant security. I enjoyed my work, except for the organisational politics and jockeying for position but I was used to it. There was plenty of variety within the roles that I held, lots of opportunities for development and the training was exceptional.
So, when the end of my corporate employment came, it was a surprise to many. Why leave it all behind; the friends and colleagues, a long-term career, opportunities and the security of salary and benefits? Why? Because stress arrived at my door and knocked very loudly.
It crept up slowly, disguised as opportunity; a chance to work on an amazing project and raise my profile; travel and expand my knowledge based; work in parts of the business I’d never worked in and probably never will. I grabbed it with both hands. It was thrilling and exciting, emotional and challenging. And slowly it was sapping me of my energy; my resources were slowing emptying but as I didn’t have a fuel gauge like you have in a car, I didn’t see the warning lights until it was too late.
And then it happened. Just after Christmas 2014, I just ran out of fuel, oil, battery; I couldn’t start, go forward or back. It was unexpected, unforeseen and painful, both emotionally and physically. It wasn’t supposed to happen to me and yet it had.
There was a way back, but my journey needed to take a different path. I needed to plan a different future for me and now I come to think about it, my family too. They bore the brunt of my experiences as well and were the rock that held me up when I needed it.
But what was that future to be? What would it look like? It needed to look different as I couldn’t go back to the past. So corporate life ended and self-employment beckon. I hadn’t taken the time to appreciate everything I had learnt and been taught during my 20+ years in HR. The skills, knowledge and experience were there, but was I there? Was I ready?
In truth, no I wasn’t. It’s taken me four year to grow up. I needed to learn to walk again; be resilient and confident. Take the highs and lows, trust my instincts and my gut. It’s has got me this far and the journey is progressing in the right direction. I must remember to fill the car up every now and again; I know the warning lights now and try to stop them before they flash. But it is always there, in the back of my mind. It never goes away. But I have the tools in my toolkit; everything I learnt in my career as well as on my journey with stress. I keep gaining more tools along the way and I couldn’t be happier. It turned out alright in the end.