Turning my back on over three years of work was the best choice I ever made!
Do you have a career of joy and fulfilment? Does your work make you feel good, whether that’s your own business or a nine-to-five?
It can be so easy to stay in a place that’s not actually doing us many favours, because it’s what we’re used to, and what we’ve invested time and effort (sometimes money) towards. Deep down we know our role isn’t making us happy, but we stick with it. Things might improve in a few months’ time – we tell ourselves. Maybe if more money comes in (or I ask for a pay rise) – things will suddenly feel better. Perhaps if I rebrand/take a promotion/complete a course/invest more money, that sinking feeling will go away. The job we know brings a sense of security – sometimes financial, sometimes emotional, sometimes both. Yet, how secure is it really if it leaves us drained and shadowed by that ‘grey cloud’?
Where To Start
Ever since I was a child, I have wanted to be my own boss and have my own business. The day I discovered the word ‘entrepreneur’ opened many doors in my mind. I had, and still have, so many interests. I realised I didn’t have to conform to a normal career path or choose just one creative pursuit for life.
Finally, in 2016, the situation to start something, and fulfil a dream, presented itself. Then came the difficult decision of what to start. I enjoyed working with flowers, liked making cards, was a trained wedding planner, and loved to write. I could draw and paint, and regularly ‘played’ with graphic designs, found joy in designing interiors and events, and liked generally being creative.
My mum had also taught me how to bake, and I had gained a reputation amongst friends and family as the go-to cake decorator for weddings and celebrations. There were elements of each of my hobbies I wanted to take further, but I knew I couldn’t do everything at once – so I had to pick one path to start. With so many people telling me ‘you should do this for a living’ after seeing my cakes, cake maker was the most logical decision…or so I thought.
Starting My First Business
Looking back, I can see before I had even begun, I was looking for a way out. I used to tell myself ‘this is just the start – in time I can do all the other things I want to do’. I would tell people about my huge plans for the future, my big dreams, because the thought of being a cake maker for the rest of my life just didn’t feel right for me.
With very little business knowledge I launched my first venture. It was exciting and I was proud of every little step forward in progress. It wasn’t long, however, before the wobbles kicked in (unsurprisingly). I knew it wasn’t going to be a career of joy and fulfilment for me. Sure, I loved the design side of my job, but the vast majority of my work was spent doing other stuff. Stuff like presenting and selling myself to potential customers, trying to get my head around food laws, and tracing ingredients… not to mention, cleaning the kitchen! If I had been able to escape at the end of the day and enjoy one of my other hobbies, perhaps I would have survived, but I no longer had time (running your own business can become all consuming).
Possibility Of Change
The opportunity to take a business course came up and I saw the possibility of positive change. It was amazing. Not only did I learn so much about business, I made some incredible friends as well.
I decided the problems in my business were due to my branding. Yes, that’s where I had gone wrong. If I changed my logo, colours, brand voice, message…everything would fall into place.
It took months to rebrand. Again, in hindsight, I can see the drawn-out process was fuelled by a fundamental disconnect between me and the business. However, at the time I just thought I wasn’t quite hitting the mark. I decided on colours, then tweaked them. Thought I had the right tones, then changed my mind. I focused in on my ‘ideal client’ and felt excited to start attracting them, then felt creatively claustrophobic and limited by the same ideas.
Something wasn’t right. No matter how many times I tried to convince myself I could build an incredible cake brand (and there were times when I genuinely did enjoy the role), I always came back to an unfulfilled feeling.
The Tipping Point
Fast forward to the end of 2018, and I reached a tipping point. Despite detailing some amazing plans for the business, I had to continually force myself to keep upbeat and carry on. I realised I had spent more time, in the two years leading up to that moment, complaining about all the things I didn’t like about my business and industry, than I had spent enjoying my work. There was everything in place to run with my ideas and make the brand anything I wanted it to be – but the reality was, I didn’t want the brand. I didn’t want to be a cake maker for a living. It was never going to be the career of joy and fulfilment I longed for.
The decision to stop my business was quite quick. Once the thought had entered my head, I knew, deep down, there was no going back. However, actually bringing it to a close (and dealing with doubts and fears over making the right choice) felt like ages. I had poured so much of myself into the business. I had invested not just time and money but hopes and dreams. Even if I didn’t want cake making to be my means of getting there, the rewards and potential I had imaged as a result of all my hard work were still the same. I was scared they might slip from my grasp if I walked away.
Choosing A Career Of Joy And Fulfilment
Thankfully, with the help of my husband, family, and close friends (two of which I met on the business course), I began to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I honed in on what I really wanted to do with my life, and what brought me real joy. It took some fine-tuning (and a fair bit of pulling my hair out) but in time the idea for my new business grew. Before long I realised it was the business and work I had always dreamt of doing but had never been able to articulate or visualise before. It was what I had always wanted to do, without even knowing it!
Now, I couldn’t be happier with my decision. I’ve still got goals and aspirations for my new brand, and I know it will take time to get it exactly where I want it to be…but five months in [September 2019] I already feel so much more confident, and comfortable, and fulfilled than I ever did before. Turning my back on over three years of work was the best choice I ever made!
Could I have eventually found some kind of happy path and muddled through with my cake making? Probably…but why should I settle for anything less than joy and creative fulfilment?
Making the leap to leave behind a job or business that isn’t right for you isn’t easy. However, missing out on the opportunity for something that feels good and brings light to your life is much harder.
If (when you’re really honest with yourself) your current work doesn’t make you happy…take that jump and run towards joy and fulfilment. Life is simply too short to stay in a humdrum career.