As the sun goes down on 2019

by | Dec 16, 2019

I cannot believe it’s 2 years since I gave up my job and have since reinvented myself. Transitioning from an employed executive role with the same employer for 15 years, having followed a traditional education and employment route, to now being self-employed pursuing quite a different line of work.

I do have to say that I am quite proud of myself.  Proud for having the courage in the first instance to step away from the security and comfort of what I knew and taking the plunge into the largely unknown.  For having the confidence to back myself. For the tenacity in sticking at it, and the resilience to accept a few rejections, recover and redirect as needed.

The journey has been a little bumpy and certainly not a straight road, but I am glad I took the route that I did, learnt some things along the way and left some things behind that no longer served me well. “Life is a journey and not a destination.

Some of the challenges along the way

  • Coming to terms with my true identity. In my professional life, I didn’t realise it at the time, but I had allowed my role and my job title to define me.  It was initially quite confronting to be just Debbie, without the Company and Job Title.  It took several months for me to get comfortable with being myself, without the labels. To realise that being Debbie is good enough.
  •       Learning how to navigate the world of transition and recruitment, “how to play the game”, how to effectively network, how to advocate for myself, how to use LinkedIn effectively.  All skills that I had allowed to become a bit rusty whilst working for the same employer for 15 years. I just didn’t know how to go about it.
  • Coping with a sense of underutilisation, that I was not contributing value
  •  Feeling stressed about the uncertainty, especially for someone like me who is motivated by a sense of security, being organised, likes to be in control and has spent 25 years of her working life in financial roles driven by reporting deadlines.
  • Feeling overwhelmed from a multiplicity of advice & opinions on what I should be doing
  • Self-sufficiency; realisation that I have to be my own EA, accountant, IT Support, BD Manager & deliverer of services.

So what have been my “Ahh Haa” moments?

  • To not be defined by my previous titles and roles; to be liberated by letting that go and allowing myself to move on
  • Recognising that I can do things that I had previously told myself were outside of my skill set. I can do Business Development. I can do some IT stuff.  Changing my language and mindset around my capabilities in this regard has been hugely empowering.
  • Being truly authentic and doing things in my own way that sits comfortably with me
  •  Listening to myself properly. Listening to my heart & gut, as well as my head to keep me “on course”.
  • Being kind to myself; acknowledging the progress and small wins along the way by changing the measure. Realising that I needed a different yardstick with a different scale.
  • Not feeling guilty that I am not as stressed and overworked as others around me. I made a choice to step away from the demands of an Executive role in search of a more purposeful and balanced way of earning a living. It may have taken the best part of 2 years, but I am starting to feel comfortable in that space.

Who couldn’t I have done without

  • The support of my husband Pete
  •  All those that generously gave of their time & answered the call when I reached out & requested a coffee catch up
  • Some professional advice and support, notably:
    • Sabrina- yoga teacher, counsellor, wise woman and gentle soul who helped me to uncover what I really wanted out of life, and being there when I needed picking up
    • Lois – career transition coach for the nuts and bolts of how do I do this
    • Jane- who coached me through my lightbulb moment
  • To those that have opened doors and given me opportunities

What do I enjoy most about my new way of life

  • The diversity.  I love the fact that every day is different. There is no 9-5; there is no routine
  • The travel time that I save by not driving to the office everyday gives me back 1.5 hrs in my day. This allows me to set myself up for success by starting the day with yoga, a walk or a bike ride
  • The sense of empowerment that comes from running my own small business
  •  The ability I have to make choices about the work I want to do, and who I want to work with
  •  The satisfaction that comes from directly helping others; of knowing that I have made a difference to someone’s day through sharing the benefit of my experience or simply holding the space for a coaching client to enable them to overcome a sticking point.
  • I have a clear mind. This clarity of thought enables me to be fully present for my clients, including my voluntary Board roles. I now feel that I can contribute so much more, as I am not pre-occupied with all the “balls that I was juggling” back in the office.

And what next

I now feel like I am on the right bus with the right people heading in a good direction. And being self-employed is a bit like that. The others on the bus being clients, or partner networks, or lead consultants or my wider network – we sit together on the bus for a while going in the same direction. At the next stop they get off, another client gets on and we travel in the same direction together for a while and so on. I am feeling optimistic about 2020 looking forward to getting to know my fellow travellers better, and looking forward to sharing the journey with some new ones.  

Written By Debbie Millard

Master your business through strong leadership, knowing your numbers and empowering your people

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