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Rebuilding My Business

The Uncertainty of Change: When Evolution and Career F*ck-Ups Collide

I’ve talked a little bit about what it was like after the ex-boss drama. I’ve written about the difficulties and how it’s changed my perspective on networking and online marketing.

I haven’t written about the nuances of my career transition. Change is hard enough but it is even harder when it is forced on you while you are going through an emotional upheaval.

In this post, I take you behind the scenes of the past 12 months. My goal is to take you behind the emotions and uncertainty, just in case you are going through similar changes.

Remember: You are awesome. Life is constant change. Don’t fight it :)

Self-imposed exile

I´m not going to talk about how I felt disconnected from many communities after ‘stuff’ happened. Some of it was natural. People make judgements based on what people say just as much as what they don’t say.

I distanced myself off from people at the top. I had no tolerance for certain people after seeing the ‘side’ they took when it came to certain things. The lack of integrity made me uncomfortable so I decided to cut myself off completely.

In retrospect, ‘ve realized that I ditched these communities. Have you ever cut yourself off from the people that form your entire identity? I don’t leave the house much – most of my life is based on interactions over the internet. It felt like I had lost a lot of the stuff that made me unique.

I stopped writing about stuff in Launch Watch. I focused more on startups. I focused on local work. Eventually, I started to feel like I belonged. I felt like I was contributing to something. Even better, I was making an income.

Lessons:

  • You need a support system when you are making a big change.
  • It’s okay to let people go.
  • I shouldn´t have wasted so much time longing for your previous career  status. See it as the foundation of your new career
  • The Startup of You is fantastic for those making a career pivot. I’ve felt a lot stronger after reading it.

The really bad times

There was a time earlier this year when I wanted to throw it all in. It had been nearly 15 months since the drama involving the ex boss. The fallout had happened in late ’11 and I thought people would be too scared to work for me.

In retrospect, people didn’t know what I did. Even my close friends struggle to define what I did. I hadn’t blogged that much and most of my recent posts were me writing about what I was up to personally.

My boyfriend had been supporting me financially for about 7 months. It had gone beyond buying extra food and paying for the internet. He was covering all my living expenses while I was sitting in front of the computer panicking about my lack of income. I had launched some great projects but none of them were taking off financially. I believed that I was a joke in the industry and wanted to give up.

I very nearly did. They were advertising for help in the fish and chip shop near here. I thought about applying. I would get a regular income. I wouldn´t have a rocking career, but I also wouldn´t get the hate mail that I had been getting.

I knew I couldn’t go for it, though. Part of anxiety means getting nausea, migraines and other irritating symptoms at random times. A normal job would likely make me sicker.

It got to the point where my boyfriend would regularly find me crying. Once I cracked it, tried to hide under the desk and realised I wasn’t alone. I went outside to sulk on the trampoline (my favourite thinking spot) but it was wet. I laid down on the ramp outside my house and tried to let the cold snap me out of it.

My boyfriend came out to talk. He explained that things take time. He reminded me about the things I had been working towards and said that he didn´t mind helping out.

Shortly after that, things started looking up. I noticed that I improved mentally as my career improved. I started thinking about the next step to improve and stopped seeing myself as the victim.

Changing your career after a massive shake-up is hard. It’s scary and causes you to question everything about yourself. It means confronting the hard truths about yourself – the stuff you don´t want to acknowledge let alone talk about.

I’d rather have a panic attack then face that again. A panic attack is isolated and follows a pattern. There is relief as soon as you stop hyperventilating. Career change can involve months of feeling shit about yourself. Feeling like you aren’t a person and are just a drain on society.

Lessons:

  • Accept that some of the time things will really suck. Don´t make decisions when you are emotional.
  • It’s okay if you need to change strategy mid way through.
  • Some things take time – and that´s okay.
  • The book Uncertainty helped me through some really tough times. It made me feel normal.

The industry is evolving. It’s okay if you are still figuring out your place

I’ve always been on the forefront of massive change. I’m the type of girl that will identify new trends and research the heck out them. I make information easy to understand, especially in new markets.

There are no words for what I have done, and what I currently do.

My career makes no sense. My work makes no sense. Everything changes so quickly and I often have no idea what to do with the new information.

You know what? It’s cool if it takes a couple of years for me to figure out my role. I’m young. I don’t need to specialise now. I just have to get enough work to have an okay lifestyle and focus on learning. I have to focus on the career I want to have, even if it only exists in my head.

I am a god at what I do. I help those that I work for look amazing. It doesn’t matter if I can´t describe what I do in one sentence.

I need to understand that my work will evolve. Heck, this blog will evolve while I figure stuff out. I can’t keep on avoiding my community every time I feel uncomfortable with my career changes. I need to accept that I´ll lose some people along the way, but this transition has the potential to help a lot of people.

Where am I right now?

Right now, I feel fantastic. I have a great client that I really enjoy working for. She listens to me and lets me explore my ideas for mutual gain. Professionally, it is so satisfying.

I’ve been able to help other people for free. People who I respect and admire, and who seem to really appreciate my help and knowledge.

One of the key shifts of the past few months has been my confidence. I feel confident that I am knowledgeable, even if my knowledge is niche and targeted at a very small audience.

I feel confident selling that knowledge, even though I´m very selective about the work I take on. I also think it´s possible that I’ll rival the boyfriend when it comes to income over the next 12 months.

My career and life have so much potential over the next year. Sure, I’ll continue to mess things up. But, that’s just part of pushing the limits of my work.