A couple years ago, I was working for in IT making more money than I have ever made in my life, well over six figures until one day, I was let go. I was told it was not a performance concern, but financial. The reality was it was nepotism. The reason is no longer significant – Regardless of why it happened, it did. And I was a widowed, single mother of two daughters that needed to figure out her next move.
I had enough money saved to make it a few months before I needed to worry, but trying to find a job in fourth quarter in IT is not an easy task. With the frustration of looking for work, I began to question why I really wanted these jobs? I didn’t particularly care for Information technology. I mean, certain aspects are really intriguing, but many of the roles I was working in didn’t fulfill me intrinsically. My last role drained me emotionally. Workplace drama, business inefficiencies and divided teams made every day feel like an uphill battle and for what?
It felt like I was coming home and drinking wine just to unwind from my day more frequently than I should. I was always stressed out and it was taking it’s toll on my entire life. How could I not see that before?
Being unemployed provided me the time to be home and around more for my children. It was a blessing and felt really satisfying to be around and prepare home cooked meals and not be rushed to exhaustion and defeat. I realized that staying in an unfulfilling job wasn’t worth it, even if it paid really well. I needed to make a bigger change.
Before I worked in Information Technology, I was a massage therapist. (Totally different, right?). And I didn’t want to go back to massage. I felt like I had moved onward and upward from my days in massage, having completed my Bachelor’s in Business Management and Leadership and even taken several Master’s level classes, but I didn’t know what else I could do. So, I took a job practicing massage for a local fitness center. This would afford me a free gym membership to get back in shape, a revenue stream, more time with my kids, and some time to figure out my next move. The catch, I am broke. But, you have to start somewhere, right?
Very quickly, I realized that I was going to be worked to death for a fraction of the income I was bringing in. But practicing massage also helped me remember how gratifying is it to help people manage their stress and physical and emotional obstacles. I thought to myself, “I can do this better”. So, I started looking for a space to rent, obtained licensing, and started the road down entrepreneurship. The American Dream: owning your own business!
Of course, self-employment has it’s perks- you choose your schedule and answer to no one. But the obstacles are grand as well. From licensing, zoning, and construction, to battling the world of marketing and SEO, self-employment is definitely for those with grit.
It’s been over a year and my business is not yet booming. Some weeks are fairly busy, some weeks I make nothing. It is stressful, but the stress isn’t the same as before. Maybe because I chose this stress- it’s different. This is the least amount of money I have ever brought in, but my mortgage is paid and my children eat well, so what more do we need? Money will come. And money will go.
Yesterday, I surprised a good friend with a coffee at work and she called me this morning to thank me while I was driving to volunteer at the Children’s Hospital, donating massages for the nurses that work the ER. My friend asks me, ‘Why would you do that? You’re giving your time and you’re making no money.’ I reminded her to trust in the process. If I don’t make money today, I can give my time to others. I believe it will come back to me.
I thought about my conversation with my friend as I was leaving the hospital. Even if I don’t gain new clients from my visit, those nurses needed massage today. The weekend brought several tragedies and some children did not return home with their families. It was more gratifying to provide some relief for people that put everything in to protecting and providing care for the human race.
I don’t know what direction to go most days but I do know I am exactly where I am supposed to be.