Have you ever made a big decision, (and I mean BIG – house move, car purchase, ditching a job – the kind of thing you don’t decide on a whim) and within a short time after signing on the dotted line, you realised it was a mistake?
I’ve made two Big Decisions in the past 3 years:
The first was deciding to leave “a good job” and work for myself instead
My time in the big City, commuting daily to where I could earn big bucks, began to pall after a few years; the gloss wore off. The free lunches and the after work Prosecco and canapés became commonplace, I began to prefer getting away by 5pm to be able to chill out at home, and not have to worry that one Prosecco too many might cause me to miss the last train home!
It dawned on me that I was spending the equivalent of two full working days every week, just travelling to and from the office. I noticed that I barely had time at the weekend to stock up the fridge, change the beds, and spend an hour with my grandchildren before I flopped into bed on Sunday night, only to do it all over again the next day!
OK, the salary and the holiday that my annual bonus paid for were nice, but it’s true that you live to your means, and I was just spending the money because it was there. But what was also slipping through my fingers was my TIME! Suddenly, I began to hear the word RETIREMENT and realised I was reaching a certain age and yet I felt I hadn’t done anything with my life.
So I considered my options, inspired by the phrase, “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” and back in 2015, I resigned to launch my own copy-editing business – because picking apart bad grammar is fun and entertainment to me, not a job at all!
If this sounds like total geekery to you (ok yes, I admit I’m a grammar geek), hop over here to consider why proofreading is essential in every aspect of our daily lives.
The second was deciding to go back to “a proper job”
Two years on, I’m still loving it, but I have struggled to do all the necessary to ensure a steady flow of work comes my way. I know I’m good at what I do, but marketing and self-promotion don’t come naturally to me. I didn’t want to admit defeat so I kept my ears open for a little part time job that would keep me ticking over, while allowing me time to do high quality work for the clients I had found.
I found the perfect part-time job: three hours each evening, walking distance from home, and a salary just beneath the Income Tax threshold.
But that wasn’t my Big Mistake
Just as I was approaching the end of my probationary period, a big fat, juicy carrot was dangled in front of me: a role not dissimilar to the one I had left back in the City, a similar salary but just 3 days a week, about 20 miles from home by car. This time, I forgot to use my checklist that I usually applied when considering a new job: three out of these five criteria had to exist:
- attractive salary
- easy travel
- a job I knew I could do
- nice people to work with
- ideally with a French connection (as I love anything language-related)
I took the plunge and resigned for the second time in two years, and found myself in a job-share PA role in financial services.
A month into the job and I was hating the journey – along an arterial road at rush hour, morning and night. The job itself proved challenging – all new equipment and programmes and software, but all a bit much for me, an admitted technophobe.
Together with that, an absent boss who needed a mindreader to organise him. My colleagues were nice, but why spend two thirds of my life with complete strangers? And of course, no French connection.
Ironically, while I was facing bumper to bumper traffic en route to the office, more proofreading work was piling up in my Inbox at home! I think I’d reached that stage where the efforts I had put into building a good reputation were beginning to pay off, and people were recommending me.
I had stopped at the shiny, glittery, attractive salary and ignored the other important things that for me, constituted “a good job”. I had put aside all the planning and thinking that had first brought me to the decision to go freelance – and was on the verge of throwing away all my efforts of the past four years!
I reminded myself that money isn’t everything, and taking a wrong turn to go after THAT had been my big mistake.
I’ve always admired Steve Jobs, the man who refused to listen to the naysayers, and look at the huge success that is Apple today. Here are a couple of quotes that resonate with me:
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only
way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” Steve Jobs
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” Steve Jobs
The big lesson I’ve learned is not to take my eyes off the prize. It was always to find TIME, not wealth. I have grandchildren I adore, amazing friends and family to spend precious time with, a loving and attentive husband (who never moans about dinner being late!) Plus, I still have my job for life, my freelance proofreading – my Perfect Job!
So I’m sharing this little tale with you in the hope that it will encourage some to keep focussed on what REALLY matters in life… and surely, for most of us, it’s the simplest of things: time for friends and family.
Must go now, I have to write another resignation letter…