Feel like a fish out of water having taken the leap into self employment? Try this.
‘Don’t be a Prisoner of the Past, Become a Pioneer of the Future’.
This quote was written on a post it note and stuck prominently on my computer as I went through the turbulence of a service re-design, possible redeployment and eventual redundancy. It was a daily reminder of my desire to create my future career path, develop my own business and leave behind the confines of my previous limiting, institutional role.
It spoke to me of freedom, adventure and autonomy. I felt exhilarated and emboldened at having finally made the move; embracing the new at every opportunity and networking and developing my business in earnest.
So imagine my surprise when, having had a break away with my family, I returned to find myself feeling really low and somewhat lost. As my husband went back to work and resumed his normal routine I felt envious. At first I thought it was just a case of post holiday blues but then I realised something deeper was going on.
No going back …
When I looked closer I saw that my envy was because I really missed my former colleagues and friends; the banter we used to share, the opportunity to bounce ideas around and the support we gave each other. I missed the familiarity of my old work routine and the form and structure it gave to my days.
For a brief spell I questioned my decision to leave and even spent one afternoon looking at job adverts, but I knew deep down that I couldn’t go back. Yet the future felt so unknown and as yet unformed. I was mourning the world that I had left behind and feeling a little lost amid the isolation and pressure of having to create my new world from scratch.
So it was a relief to discover that this sense of loss was a normal stage you go through when you first take the leap into self employment. As Professor Cary Cooper, President of the CIPD says ‘stepping away from an ‘institutional role’ to uncertainty is likely to bring a significant sense of loss to anyone, including to those who have chosen to do it. The transitional stress is high’.
So, if you are in a similar stage of development, what can help you to overcome this transitional stress once you have taken the leap into self employment?
Recognise that you are now a Pioneer
The pioneering quote above does not just apply to making the decision to leave behind old ways of working. Once you have become self employed you are effectively pioneering your new path on a daily basis and forging your new identity as a self employed business owner with every step you take.
So taking this on board, the following steps will help you ease your transition:
1. Develop a clear vision for your business and your life
Being a pioneer means having vision; being able to see beyond yourself to the possibilities in the world around you. Pioneers can see opportunities, where others may see only obstacles.
So translating this to you and your business – take some time to think through and write down what will be different when you achieve your business goals. What does success look like? Feel like? What will be the impact of that for you, your wider life, your loved ones?
Another way to connect to your vision is to create a vision board with visual imagery to represent the life and business you want to create. Connecting with your vision and looking at the imagery each day will serve as a great reminder of what you are doing all this for and ground you as you take steps to face down the uncertainty and doubts that will arise as you build your desired future.
2. Consider how your business will make a difference to someone else
Pioneers throughout history had the knowledge that their sacrifice was going to be beneficial to others. Although the journey of self employment may never be as physically daunting, the emotional and mental challenges can be similarly daunting for us. (See previous post here).
Remembering that the steps we take will make the lives of others better can give us hope and endurance to continue on and overcome our challenges. So consider what values will you be honouring by building your business and how will your business make a difference to others?
3. Recognise that self employment doesn’t have to mean By Your-self employment
Pioneers had to create new communities and learn to live and work alongside each other. You may miss the sense of belonging and camaraderie of your old world of work but self employment brings with it new opportunities to meet other self employed women and learn from those who have pioneered this path before you.
Take every opportunity to network, consult with mentors and coaches and create your own support structure. It makes the journey so much easier and quicker to have this support.
4. Create your own structure and routine
Pioneers created their own sense of order and discipline for their new communities; as a newly self employed business woman you need to do the same. At the start of each week consider the priorities for the week; upcoming meetings; appointments and regular marketing activities and create a timetable for the week ahead scheduling these tasks in and allowing time for creative thinking.
Taking this step will help you feel more in control of your time and the long list of things to do. It will help you take yourself more seriously as a business owner and will give you the added benefit of a sense of satisfaction when you can tick things off as completed.
How about you?
What has helped you stay on course when transitioning from being employed to self employed? How do you deal with the stress that comes with this change? I’d love to hear from you.
Want more help to develop confidence in your business and stay on track to make your vision a reality?
Take a look at my career and leadership coaching programmes. You can fill in the form there and then schedule a FREE, no obligation consultation to get some clarity on the situation you are facing.