Would I go back to employment? Maybe, but things would be different!
I made the leap into self-employment 3 and half years ago. If you’d have told me just 5 years ago what I was about to do I would literally have laughed in your face! It’s something I never ever thought I would do, mainly because it’s not an ambition I had for myself. I enjoyed the security of paid employment. I liked being a part of an organisation and of a team; of something bigger than me.
That changed for me almost overnight, or certainly over a short period of time. I began to feel I was on a treadmill and my work was meaningless – what difference did it make to anyone anyway? I got ground down by the politics that I had once thrived on so that any success I had felt like a hollow victory. I began to have feelings of anxiety and experienced panic attacks for the first time in my life which was the most terrifying experience I have ever had. This quickly spun me out of control so that I no longer felt able to face even the smallest of challenges. I felt extremely exposed and had no resilience whatsoever.
With hindsight my job hadn’t changed. The role I performed was valuable and the environment I once thrived in hadn’t changed either – but I had become overwhelmed and the daily stresses had caught up with me. That came as a huge shock – I don’t do stress! I think there were a few reasons why this happened – hindsight’s a wonderful thing! First, I liked to be seen as someone with a ‘can do’ positive attitude so I said yes to everything and always told my colleagues and managers that I was fine. Sometimes I wasn’t and I could have done with a bit of help! I also put up with what I felt was unfair behaviour around me and said nothing, again not wanting to appear to rock the boat. In addition my work was almost everything to me. It had way too much of my attention and focus – I have a strong work ethic and work is important but not EVER as important as my family, my health or my sanity!
So I took stock in 2014. I spent time thinking about what I could get passionate about again and how I wanted to spend my life. I re-trained (still never believing I’d leave!) and finally took the plunge – I was extremely lucky that at the same time a voluntary redundancy scheme was announced and I just thought I gotta go – someone really is telling me something!
I love working for myself – the freedom, the creativity it allows, opportunity to follow my passion and do something I love. BUT the grass isn’t always greener! I miss the security, regular salary, holiday pay and being part of a team. So would I ever go back to the world of employment? Who knows. For now I love what I do but I’ve learnt life can change and so I’d never say never. However, if I did things would definitely be different, that is for sure! I’ve been on my own personal wellbeing journey and learnt so much that I now teach to clients that I would certainly take with me back into the employed workplace. So I thought I’d share it with you: –
- My wellbeing underpins everything – work, relationships, happiness, energy – EVERYTHING. So, no matter what I’d prioritise sleep, self-care, eating well and exercise. When I do that I’m at my best and have the resilience to take on any challenge. Anxiety and panic is a thing of the past.
- Learn to say no sometimes – you gain more respect from colleagues for it and is certainly more respectful of yourself. When we don’t respect ourselves then we can internalise the feelings we fail to express which can then trigger anxiety.
- Ask for help. I now know the old mantra to be true! I cannot and am not good at everything so I would certainly recognise my skills – and my lack of skill and ask others to support me when needed. This isn’t a sign of weakness rather a sign of assertiveness, confidence and self-respect.
- Laugh! Oh my, sometimes I took my work so seriously. Sometimes it was serious stuff. But you know what, sometimes the only response is to laugh. Really, what is the worst that can happen? And sometimes situations and people’s reactions are just plain ridiculous. Laughing releases feel-good endorphins and has the power to instantly diffuse a situation and help us gain perspective.
- Protect fiercely my work-life balance. All the research tells us that working more simply does not always mean being more productive – in fact the opposite is the case. Life is about balance and I am at my best when I have that – family, friends, me-time, work, exercise, rest, indulgent food and healthy – there’s room for it all.
I wish I’d approached my work differently when I was employed, but then it was my experience that triggered my own wellbeing journey and then the amazing opportunity I have had to create my own business around wellbeing. To learn new information, to experience new things, meet new people and see the impact that the work my sister and I do has on our clients at Wellbeing4Life – so I wouldn’t actually change a thing… only next time (if there is a next time!) would be different!
If you resonate with any of my story, if you suffer with anxiety or stress and would like to take charge of your life again and stop overwhelm and anxiety then join us on our 6 week HIP: Break free of overwhelm course starting Thursday 6th September 7pm-9pm Mountsorrel Memorial Centre, LE12 7DB. For more information visit our event here or get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org