If you’re new to my page, let me give you a quick rundown of the past few years of my work life. I graduated from college in 2015 and had an internship with Studio Cultivate that summer and started working at an art museum shortly thereafter. For awhile I was splitting time between part time work at the museum and a few other places until I was working close to full time at the museum in the education department. In late 2016, I switched jobs to being the full time display coordinator at the local Anthropologie. I was responsible for building all of the in store and window displays at my home location. This was an amazing opportunity to consistently be making things daily. I had access to all sorts of tools, and was getting paid to create. I learned a lot and I am grateful for the almost two years I spent in that roll. This fall, I left that job to set off on my own making my own work and doing some freelance work (hey Studio Cultivate). Now, I am sitting here a little over two months out after doing the supposed holy grail of that self employed/maker life - quitting my day job. So here are five things that I’ve learned so far in those two months:
- Setting my own schedule is essential
I have always been a pretty independent and internally motivated person. I often attribute this to being homeschooled for the majority of my k-12 education (thanks mom!) That has meant that I value my freedom. I love being able to schedule my day how I want and work on the projects I want. However, I also thrive on structure and routine and generally either need some structure around my life or need to put a routine into it. When you’re a student, that structure exists because of your class schedule. After college, that structure came in the form of jobs that required my attendance. Now that I’m off on my own and I can have multiple days in a row where I am only working for myself, that means I have to be incredibly disciplined in creating my own structure and routine in my days and weeks or else I will end up not accomplishing much. I love the idea of setting my own schedule and creating my own routine. My studio is in my home so all I have to do to go to work most days is make my coffee and walk upstairs.
- It is easy to get distracted
When you go to a job, you might get distracted by your coworkers for a little bit, but ultimately you’re in your office/workplace and there likely isn’t too much else to do beside work (or procrastinate on your tiny pocket computer). But now that I’m working from home most of the time, there are dishes that might need to be done, laundry that might need to be folded, a cat that wants nothing more than to sit on my keyboard, a sink that needs fixing, a Roomba that is stuck beeping in the corner for no reason, and so much more. These little tasks are deceptive time sucks. They are all things that need to get done, but I don’t need to do them right away. They can wait until my workday is finished and that’s okay. This has been a hard thing to keep up with because now I can see all these tasks that need to get done instead of leaving home for the day and then only seeing them when I get back home at the end of my workday.
- Boundaries? What are those?
Now that there isn’t a clear end time to when I come home from work, it has gotten very easy to just keep working until I realize I probably should eat dinner. The worst is when my husband has choir rehearsal and doesn’t come home until late so it is very easy for me to entirely forget dinner and work until he finally comes home. My schedule used to be 7am-4pm, Monday-Friday and that was it. I could come home, snuggle my kitten, tidy a bit, do some of my own artwork and still have time to start cooking dinner all before 5:30! Now I will just keep working until I realize I’m hungry and should have started cooking twenty minutes earlier. This part is still a struggle for me. It has only been two months, so I haven’t really figured this one out, but we have started making more large crockpot meals that we can freeze so we cook less often and that definitely helps!
- This is amazing! Wait, no this is stressful! I have no idea what I’m doing… Just kidding, this is amazing! Ugh, hold on, this is hard, maybe I should call my mom…
That is an accurate little snippet of my general internal monologue on any given day. Don’t get me wrong, I love the freedom and this has been the right decision for me, but that doesn’t make me immune from self doubt and the all too common imposter syndrome. I am still very much in the “figuring it out” phase of this little business of mine as I finally am able to dedicate a substantial amount of time to it. The constant in this process is that I love sewing. Sewing makes me smile. I look forward to it every day. I brought things to sew on vacation and it didn’t feel like work. I still think about the moment in college when I realized I could make art out of fiber and it was that proverbial light bulb moment where I realized I could combine two things I loved - sewing and art making - and be happy. It’s the rest of this process that can be so draining. The part where I also want to sell the work that I sew and just Instagramming the latest piece I made isn’t a marketing strategy. The part where I need to figure out what code to inject where to make that one thing work on my website. And so much more. It really is a learning process full of ups and downs and I’m working toward having more ups than downs as I move through this journey.
- This was the right decision for me
I love having the ability to set my own schedule. I love being in charge of my time. I wouldn’t have been able to open up custom slots for the wall hangings if I hadn’t made this leap. This was the right decision for me at this time in my life. Throughout the transition, I never doubted that or regretted my choice. That’s not to sugar coat everything and say this has been a breeze, because it has been hard, but I have loved every minute of it. Quitting your day job may not be the right move for somebody else and that’s okay. This was what was right for me and I’m so excited for what is to come!
Has there been a time where you’ve made a big transition or left your job? Tell me about it in the comments!