What leaving the corporate world has taught me

A career in the corporate world dishes up plenty of perks when you work for the man.  You show up, you get paid.  If you work your tail off, you get paid.  If you do the minimum work required, you still get paid.

When you’re self-employed you get paid for what you do, or what other people think your work is worth.  Self-employment means if you don’t do the work, you don’t get paid.

Often, that is what deters people from leaving their corporate careers.  A steady paycheck, a retirement package and health benefits sound like a cushy pillow to lay your head on when you may need it.  However, there are some people out there, myself included, who can’t imagine going back to the corporate world.  

Why?  Working my tail off for someone else’s dream does not jive with me.  I know I have a vision worth chasing after and if need be, I can always course correct along my self-employment journey.  Although it’s been less than six months since leaving the corporate world, I have already learned some valuable lessons along the way.

But let’s back track a bit.  I never knew I would be leaving the corporate world.  I have always been a dedicated worker bee and thought I would grow old with a company with a fat retirement account.  I started off working as a legal assistant in my early 20s fresh out of college.  I was pondering the idea of law school, but the years went by, advancements were made in my profession and pretty soon I was working at prestigious law firms in my mid-twenties.  I was young hot shot paralegal that scaled up the ladders with no formal paralegal training.  How did I do it? Dedication, a mastery of learning new skills and material and a mindset that I was going to be the best at what I do.  Then the big 3-0 set in.  I was thirty years old and miserable and full of questions. Is this career really for me? Do I have to do this the rest of my life?  I found myself no longer excited to go to work and furthermore, my needed improvement on how they treated their employees.  I’m being worked like a dog, underappreciated and I could be fired at any time.
That’s when the wheels started turning.  It was time to create a life I wanted.  I had to really reflect on what I wanted in life, what passions I have and why I wanted a change.  The next step was putting it all into motion.  Planning as best as possible when I quit my job, making sure my foundation of my vision for my future was solid and taking a sudden leap of faith into the future.
Since leaving my corporate paralegal job I have declared and set off on a mission of teaching a million people how to use inspiration and simple wisdom to create a happier and more fulfilling life.  With failed trials of finding the right profession in my twenties, it dawned on me that it wasn’t the employer that was the problem, it was me.  This type of work simply did not line up with what I was meant to do.  Fast forward to today, I currently write for several publications, including my own. I just finished up my manuscript for my first book and am working on an e-course to teach others how to remove toxicity in their lives and get their lives back on track with personal pursuits of happiness. We are facing an all-time epidemic of forgetting what it feel like to be alive.  We weren’t meant to just go to work and live for the weekends.
Although this new journey sounds fancy and exciting, it isn’t always that way. Every day a new set of challenges are presented and every day a new lesson is to be learned.
Lesson # 1: Knowing the difference between confidence and arrogance

Remaining confident and believing in yourself is non-negotiable.  But you also have to realize you’re going to face some successes and failures along the way.  Humility is what keeps you grounded and alert.  It allows you to push aside the voice of arrogance, keep your vision in check – gently reminding you why you left the comfortable confines of your corporate gig.  Remaining confident while pursuing your dreams and warding off arrogance is truly an artful balance.  I use humility to keep me grounded while I navigate the road ahead.

Lesson # 2:  Discomfort provides some valuable lessons

We have all heard the saying, “No pain, no gain.”  There’s some truth to it, actually a lot of truth.  A steady job gives us a sense of security, despite how hard or little you work.  You work hard, you get paid; you do the minimal things possible to secure your job, you still get paid.  The stress and hustle required to work for yourself accumulates over time.  It may have you questioning if you made the right decision.  Throughout the discomfort and uncertainty of being out on my own, the biggest lesson I have learned so far is to have a plan.  This thing called entrepreneurship not an overnight get rich quick scheme. I’m in it for a marathon and then some more. It won’t be easy, but so far, the rewards of being on my own far outweigh working for someone else.

Lesson # 3:  Passion is what keeps you going

How often do you hear of people dreading their Monday through Friday job and living life for the weekends?  Too often.  When you venture out on your own, passion is what keeps you going.  Passion is what gets you out of bed to conquer the day.  Passion is what keeps you hustling when your grand ideas aren’t going quite as planned.  Without discovering your purpose, you’ll be just as miserable working a 9 to 5.

Lesson # 4: Time

When I went out on my own, I realized how much time I had been sacrificing during my corporate career.  I was not only giving them hours, but years of my life.  When you start your own business the cash may not be flowing right away and clients may not be knocking on your door, but this is when the lesson of time hits home.  This is the most valuable resource we have regardless of our current occupation: time.  When you work for yourself, no one is going to hassle you to get your dreams off the ground and soaring into the sky – that’s on you babe.  Deadlines are real, when you set them for yourself.  Distractions are plenty – they’re everywhere.  Since time is our only commodity, I make it a point to write out a plan of attack before I go to bed.  The next day I try my hardest to stick to that plan, but sometimes it’s also nice to invest a moment or two in yourself. Seriously, stop and smell the roses.

Lesson # 5: Your Life. Your Rules.

There are no rules except the rules you give yourself.  Scary?  Liberating?  How about both.  At first, I found myself consuming books, studying the greats (I suggest you do the same), but then I realized while following someone else’s model is a fantastic approach to my business venture, I needed to play by my own rules to make this business authentically mine.   I’m always in search of the next lesson from great entrepreneurs, but at the same time I need to honor my own perspective and keep moving forward on my own journey.

Lesson # 6: You get a date with yourself every day

Trust me, you become your own best friend, confidant and worst enemy.  While pursuing a dream outside of the corporate world you really get to know yourself.  It can be great and scary at the same time.  Especially when you have heavily relied on Corporate America to tell you how to go about your day.  You know have the freedom to do as you please.  You will learn what routines will work for you to remain productive and “on-track” while pursuing your dreams or starting a business.  You will learn how to cope with self-doubt and overexcitement on a daily basis.  But most of all, you will learn nobody will hold your hand while you charge steadily toward your dreams.  It’s on you baby.  So I remind myself how far I’ve come in the last few months, never losing sight of that.  

The lessons from leaving the corporate world are lessons that will remain with me for the rest of my life no matter what path I choose to journey down.  Although it’s been less than 6 months, these last few months have been the most exhilarating, painstaking and hardest months of my life.  

The truth is, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I feel alive and I must say, it’s a wonderful thing to feel again.

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