It’s been a wild last few months since I resigned from my career to pursue self employment. Numerous friends & family have commented that I seem much happier, and I would definitely agree with that. That does NOT mean it’s been a walk in the park though! Most tasks seem to take me about 3x as long as I anticipated (I may have set some unrealistic goals initially). I’ve never been known for my patience, so that’s been a struggle. However, the most difficult part so far has been contending with three big fears that crept in soon after resigning.
I’ll admit I anticipated that losing my income & being unsure when I’ll fully replace it would bother me the most.
Surprisingly though, that didn’t earn a spot in my top 3 fears.
At the end of this post I’ll include a link to my business if you’re curious what I’ve been up to. It has my face allllll throughout it, so let’s consider it a momentary lapse in Money Gremlin being semi-anonymous.
So: what were those fears & did they end up being as bad as I expected….
Fear #1: That I would not be motivated enough for self-employment
This one was HUGE for me.
In the last 3 months of my hospital career I struggled to make myself complete things. I’d look at my schedule for the day and have so much difficulty just getting started. I felt like I resented work. The only reason I completed my tasks was the patients, families, and doctors counting on me to keep up with that schedule. My motivation was all external; I didn’t want to let anyone down.
So what the heck was going to happen when I left that structured job and had to motivate myself?!? Am I too lazy to be self-employed when there’s no one watching me or setting expectations of when things need to be completed?
Building a website and starting a business is a LOT of work…. but no one else would be seeing it until I was ready. What if I could just never motivate myself to finish?!
It turns out, that worry was hilariously unnecessary.
I wasn’t lazy; I was uninspired.
I’ve never been someone who enjoys arbitrary rules of how I’m supposed to spend my time. Why should I work 8-5 if I can complete my work by 2?
Each day in healthcare is dramatically different in terms of workload. So how does it make sense to work the same number of hours each day? Wouldn’t it make more sense to just complete what was needed that day, regardless of hours? Some days might be 6 hours while others are 10s, but tasks would get the time they need.
Self-employment gives me that flexibility and it suits me so, so much.
I work MORE hours now than I did previously, yet I feel charged up at the end of the day rather than exhausted. I’m never sitting at my desk trying to fill hours; I just work when there are tasks to do.
I think the importance of letting people work & flourish in ways that suit them is wildly underutilized in most jobs. Self employment allows me to give myself permission to be me, and that has increased my output and motivation dramatically.
Fear #2: That I would lose all my friends
Even writing this one makes me feel a little sad and shameful.
I genuinely worried that leaving my career would cause all my friends to lose interest in me, and that’d I’d be perpetually lonely.
It’s embarrassing to admit that I actually asked numerous people whether our friendship would remain if I left healthcare. Despite all of them reassuring me that it would, I still stressed about it.
I don’t think I fully realized how much of my identity was wrapped up in my work title.
It makes me wonder if it’s more powerful than most people realize. I’d read stories of people fearing retirement & losing their identity. I always found them odd and didn’t relate to that sentiment…. until it was time to walk away from my career and the same feeling crashed down on me.
I was a dietitian…. but I was no longer going to be a dietitian…. So who the heck WOULD I be??
If I didn’t know that answer, how could I know if my friends would stick around? As is true for most adults, the majority of my friendships were formed at work. All of a sudden I felt like I was going to be the black sheep with nothing in common with them.
The truth is that social interactions do change when you leave work. I used to see my friends almost every day during lunch time at work. Obviously I am no longer present for that.
I’m happy to report though that I have not lost any friends, and I do not feel lonely. We make more pointed efforts to schedule hangouts and keep in touch.
I was a dietitian when they met me, yes. But that’s not why we became friends. There were lots of other dietitians at work that I never became friends with, so clearly there was more to it than title. It should have been obvious to me all along that it was me they liked, not some job title.
We’re friends because we have things in common and like spending time together. It’s truly that simple.
You can change aspects of your life, but the people that like you for you will stay.
Fear #3: Publicly humiliating myself
I wanted to call this my “fear of failing” since it sounds more noble, but that would be a bit of a lie.
Most people, myself included, aren’t really scared of failing; they’re scared of publicly stumbling.
Starting a business these days includes creating an online presence, which (for better or worse) opens you up to a MUCH larger audience. That means more people might see your successes, but more people are also going to see your failures.
What if, what if, what if….
Brendon Burchard posted this quote on his Instagram and I felt personally called out:
His caption went on to say:
“I’m scared to start”. No, you’re not. Starting is very simple tasks. You’ve done simple tasks your entire life. The issue is you fear what others might think as they see you try new things, become someone new, face trial and error and failure. You’re fearing embarrassment more than anything.
He’s not wrong. It was like a face slap with a palmful of truth.
How many dreams have been crushed by the thought “What will people think?…”.
It can be incredibly difficult to start new and have “the world” watch. So what do you do about it?
I recently listened to a Paula Pant podcast featuring Mr. Money Mustache.
They were discussing being disliked and having critics. I really appreciated MMM sentiments when he essentially said that having strong critics isn’t personal, it’s just numbers.
If I meet 100 people in person and 1 dislikes me, that doesn’t feel like a huge deal. It’s just one person.
Now what if you have 10,000 people reading your writing, listening to you, or seeing you online? 100 of them probably will not like you.
The percentage is the same (1%), but it feels worse because the audience size is much more vast.
The internet also brings out the extreme side of people, so the discomfort is compounded. It’s likely those 100 may post comments that they would never have spoken to your face.
Honestly, it’s the part that still scares me the most. I know that 1st (or 100th) harsh Instagram comment, Google review, or email is going to sting.
I’m going to try to remind myself that it’s just a numbers game, and that that one comment does not represent the collective thought about me or my business.
Is it going to suck still?
Yep. A lot.
Your self worth can’t be found in the minds or words of other people though.
I’m just going to have to get used to some criticism and discomfort. Writing my thoughts on this blog for years has helped with that a bit. I tell the world some personal things! However, it still feels different because my business will not be anonymous like this blog (sort of) is.
So here I am: putting myself out there publicly. Sharing my news on Money Gremlin feels like a semi-comfortable place to start since there’s a nice community here already.
I’ve started a business! I’d love if you took a look at that link to my website and let me know what you think.
I’d also greatly appreciate any wisdom or advice you can give about handling harsh comments!
Thank you in advance 🙂