Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve wanted to have a different kind of job to the normal 9-5. The idea of sitting in an office until I’m old enough to retire seemed like my idea of hell.
I’m 27 now, and I did work in offices for a while. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be, but I was still fascinated by the idea of freelancing, and crazy jealous of the few people I’d come across who were freelancers.
Until recently, I didn’t really have a concept of an alternative to the 9-5, because I hadn’t discovered the wonderful world of the digital economy. I didn’t know how to make money online.
What held me back
Many myths held me back, like how unstable freelancing is, and that you have to be a massive risk-taker.
These unhelpful beliefs kept me thinking that I wasn’t the sort of person who would be able to try freelancing, as I’m cautious and I’m afraid of not having any money.
What I actually was afraid of was failing.
Honestly, so many people have a terror of failing, and it stops them from even researching their options. Or, there is so much information out there that it’s overwhelming and you give up.
The barrier to entry is so huge that many people don’t make it through the door. In a way, it’s a positive thing, because it weeds out the people who aren’t really committed enough to try it for real.
I then found out about the future of work through blogger Tom Ewer’s website, Leaving Work Behind. I also took his no-nonsense blogging course to get me started, which is very reasonably priced.
The future of work is not being chained to your desk doing a job that was decided by some hiring managers in some company. It is deciding on your own career path, working out if there’s a market for what you want to do, and then putting heart and soul into making it work.
There is no template for success
When I quit my job, I didn’t have any savings apart from a few grand that will serve as a buffer in case the worst scenario possible happens and I don’t make any money. No one is going to support me if it all goes wrong.
I’m not well-connected, and I just went to your average comprehensive school in a provincial town. I’m also female, my parents are divorced, I’m estranged from my father, and I even come from an ethnic minority background.
My only social advantage is sounding very middle class.
If anything, quite a few things about me are heavily criticised by some sections of wider society, like coming from a ‘broken’ home, not having a good relationship with one of my parents, not having a penis or being descended from Robert the Bruce.
I even had a mental health problem – extreme anxiety, panic attacks and dissociation.
The reason I’m telling you all this is because there is nothing different about me – no special secret that means I was able to do what has turned out to be quite an extraordinary thing.
How to take the first step
Nowadays, I can still get very anxious, but normally I can deal with it pretty well.
Society has really negative attitudes to people suffering with mental ‘illnesses’ but they can actually be an incredible catalyst for change.
Either way, nothing should hold you back from building your dream career.
Dealing with something like anxiety on a daily basis gives you incredible powers of resilience – so, all you anxious people out there, make sure you recognise your strengths.
I also have determination and curiosity, which are not traits I was born with but ones I have developed over time, inspired by my passion for self-development.
These are two qualities that will absolutely help you to follow your dreams and become a freelancer, or whatever.
To develop determination, you need to realise there is no such thing as failure – there is only giving up too early, or dying before you can accomplish your goal, in which case the failure becomes fairly insignificant.
You must remember that life is unfolding rapidly and make a commitment to the idea that there is nothing more important than achieving your goals – not going out and getting drunk, not finding a relationship, or even having a particularly clean house.
To develop curiosity, instead of feeling down about yourself when you hear about other people who are doing things that you want to do, think to yourself, I wonder how they did that. And then ask them.
When you hear about things that make you uncomfortable or confuse or scare you, resolve to find out more about them – even at the risk of leaving your comfort zone.
Your comfort zone will still be there when you go back – if you want to go back.
Find your own way
So there is really no template for taking that first step towards the future of work. You have to value your life too much to waste it, and then make an internal commitment to take just one small step in creating the career that you want. And then, maybe you’ll take another.
If I’ve learned one thing from brazenly quitting my job to become a freelance blogger, it’s that so many people are harbouring similar dreams to me. We’re all worried about looking stupid, or failing, or being criticised.
But, when you’re loving every day and feeling disbelieving that you’ve managed to do something so crazy, none of that really matters. Don’t settle.
You can find out more about my professional women in tech blog, Away With Words, and how the digital economy has created a Future of Work. Or, discover how I was able to quit my job and become a freelance blogger.
Catherine Julianne is a blogger and content writer obsessed with the field of personality systems theory. She also likes tech, visual art, Eastern practices, adventures and being in nature.