As 2017 draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on what a difference a year has made for me professionally.
This time last year, I resolved to find myself in a new job by the end of the year. I was with a great company with supportive upper management and amazing colleagues; but despite this, I was unhappy. A year earlier I had been promoted from a project management position to a people management position. I love project management and I’m really good at it; but despite my best efforts, I just couldn’t find the same passion for managing people and all their idiosyncrasies. I think that deep down, I had known that my role was not a good fit for quite some time, but it wasn’t until the end of the year that I really admitted it to myself.
In January I began looking for a new job, but nothing was quite what I was looking for, namely a part-time project management role within a small digital agency. I applied to a few jobs, but none of the positions really felt like the right fit. One night after yet another exasperating search, I jokingly said to my husband “It would be easier to just start my own company and create my own role”. He raised an eyebrow and said “So, why don’t you?” My initial reaction was a mix of shock and denial. It was crazy idea; I’ve never thought of myself as the entrepreneurial type. It was risky; we couldn’t afford for me to give up a steady paycheque. It was scary, I know nothing about running a business. Or was it?
That conversation planted a seed in my brain, that took root pretty quickly and was difficult to ignore. I began researching small businesses and learning about what makes a good entrepreneur. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are many successful business owners who, like me, aren’t in it to grow a business or increase profits, but rather to earn a living on their own terms. At this stage of my life, the very most important thing to me is spending time with my children while they are young. I need to make enough money to get by with a little extra for vacations and having fun, but I also want to be able to take time off with them in the summer and during school breaks.
The more I looked into this career path, the more convinced I became that not only could I become a freelance PM, but I could thrive. So I took a leap, and started my own consulting business. I spent all of my spare time in the first few months of the year getting my ducks in a row - setting up bank accounts, building my website, creating a budget and business plan. I found that my experience as a project manager made for a fairly easy transition as I was already familiar with budgets, schedules, goal setting and planning. But there was (and still is) much to learn. I have never had to create a brand strategy, design and build a website or create all my own graphics before. I tackled it all head-on and am very proud of what I was able to create with nothing but a willingness to learn and sheer persistence.
By late-spring I was ready to make it official. I gave my notice at work, and I timed my last day of work to be the last day of school. I took the entire summer off with my kids, which is one of the best things I have ever done for myself and for them. Then in September, I hit the ground running. I am happy to report that I have been steadily busy and I’m enjoying being back in a project management role.
This year has taught me that the greatest rewards come from listening to your gut and not being afraid to take risks. I am quite certain that there will be a few bumps in the road ahead, and I will need to continue to push outside of my comfort zone. But that’s half the fun isn’t it?
Bring it on 2018!