It’s been exactly six months since I posted what remains my most commented-upon article – the one I wrote on the first Monday after I left my job. I took the fact that the many comments and Facebook ‘likes’ were a sign that there were a great deal of people out there who were very happy for me…and perhaps a tad jealous. I was ecstatic on the first day, and the euphoria didn’t really fade throughout that first week. But six months in and things have changed a bit, and while I’m still really happy with my decision, I have learnt a lot, and there are things I might have done differently.
So to celebrate my six months of freedom, here are the top five things I’ve learnt since going solo.
1.) The more time you have the fewer things you do. This astounds me. I thought that by leaving my job I’d have oodles of time to do the things I wasn’t able to do. Like spend more time revising or prepping for college. More time cooking. Writing blogposts. Volunteering, gardening, dancing, yoga, spending time with family. Sleep. All of these were things I thought I’d find time for, surely, in the 168 hours in a week. I’ve done hardly any of these on a regular basis. I’ve become exceedingly poor at time management…and I know that’s because I just have so much of it…and so I do so little.
2.) Rebuilding your CV is not hard when you are doing what you love. I have barely really thought about my CV since leaving my job, although I have rewritten it and updated it whenever I’ve needed to send it out. But getting the skills on the paper is no effort and true passion is coming out when I write what I do – I’m not scrabbling around to try and make my experience relevant.
3.) It can take quite some time to really learn what it is you love doing. I thought the nutrition course was my ‘thing’ and doing the Natural Chef course was a way to start earning a bit of money doing something I quite like; meanwhile writing blogposts was a hobby. I had a sudden realisation one day when I had spent the morning in the kitchen doing an assignment for the Natural Chef course and the afternoon writing up about the recipe and doing research on the ingredients that actually THOSE were my things. I was completely absorbed and happy doing these things. Once I’d gotten into it, there was no time wasting, no bored Facebook checking, no sense of obligation to do anything. In fact I felt GUILTY doing these things because I felt I shouldn’t be allowed to spend all my time doing things that I loved so much and completely absorbed me.
4.) It can also take some time to realise that you can turn your hobby and passion into work. I’m not really there yet, I’m still not earning money doing these things. But I do at least have a good focus. I’ve decided that writing blogposts and looking our for opportunities to use my cooking skills is as important as revising for the Nutrition course. I’ve accepted opportunities that won’t earn me much (if any) money, but will give me exposure and experience.
5.) Sometimes doing something completely different is also important. I have recently started helping out New London Architecture at their events and conferences. This has nothing to do with food, cooking or nutrition, but it does earn me a little bit of money for doing not very much. It gets me out of the house, I have to meet and talk to people, behave in a particular way and do my hair and make up. I’m not really a hair and makeup kind of girl – I’m completely happy au naturel – but having to appear professional and well turned out and working with people every now and then keeps me grounded and aware that there is another whole world outside of me out there.
I still don’t really know where I’m going, but I do have much more focus than I did six months ago. It’s taken a long time, and perhaps I should have done something on the side before plunging in and giving it all up. But I had the opportunity to do it, and I took it, and I don’t regret it for one minute.