Going Freelance, Part 1: Jumping Ship

Decision-making is different for every individual. Some people can make a major decision in mere hours. For some people, it takes weeks, a couple of months, or half a year to decide on something important. Others take years of convincing themselves before choosing one path over another. It took me about a couple of years of “thinking about it” and “weighing my options” before finally deciding to quit. Quit my corporate job, that is. The decision to do freelance writing full-time came about five months after that.

When I decided to resign from my job, all I knew was that the job just wasn’t cutting it for me anymore. The work was good, the money enough, and the people were great, but I just couldn’t see myself doing it for the next few years. The job just wasn’t me. I resigned with the intent to find whatever it is that I wanted to do.

Exploring writing-related work was always at the back of my mind, but at that time I couldn’t take the idea that if I decided to shift careers, I would have to start from the bottom. Hell, I’ve been in the workforce for eight years and going back to “entry level” was “Preposterous!” and “A travesty!”–basically not an idea I easily welcomed. After I turned in my resignation letter, I took it easy for a while. I sent my resume to a few companies. I went to job interviews. These were jobs related to my old career field. They all panned out.

How I started with the writing thing

I’ve always been interested in writing ever since my 6th grade English teacher decided I was good enough to write for the school paper. Before that I didn’t think much about writing. I think I was a little surprised that I got that school paper gig. A few months later I placed second in some essay contest at school. That was another surprise. Heyyyy, I can write? I started keeping diaries slash journals and scribbled little compositions. Stuff I never showed to anyone. I didn’t really think about it as a serious job.

I started this blog around the same time that I started working for my ex-firm. When I resigned from my corporate gig, I thought I would just find another stable job and keep blogging and writing on the side. When most of my job interviews came to nothing, I decided to give freelance writing a try. I signed up for oDesk and created a profile. I’ve talked about my small writing gigs here. When I wrote that post, freelance writing was just a little hobby to keep me occupied while I contemplated my next career step.

Taking the leap

I don’t recall the actual moment when I finally realized that there was no way I was going back to corporate life. It just felt like it was a long time coming and I just had to say it out loud. Telling my family was a big deal for me because I worried about them worrying about me. My friends were very supportive. Officially announcing my decision to the world made things easier and I felt more at ease and comfortable afterwards. It was freedom.

Incidentally, it was through one of my writing jobs that I stumbled on a post on a blog called The Feel Good Lifestyle that made a huge impact. That was when I decided that if I was going to do this, I would have to do it all the way. The post basically formed my resolve. And that’s how I JUMPED from human resources consultant to freelance writer.

General tips when you’re thinking about jumping ship

I’m not an expert on making life-altering decisions, but I would like to share a few things based on my own experience.

  • Think hard, think long before making life-changing decisions. Duhr. Don’t make a decision when you’re feeling all emotional or stressed. Don’t make the decision when you’re happy or when you’re sad. Wait until you’re neither or when you’re calm and relaxed because it will be easier for you to look at all sides of the situation. This is actually an advice one of my former managers gave me and I believe it to be true and helpful.
  • Write stuff down. List down pros and cons. List down a semblance of a plan. Write down what you want or think you want. Write down and describe your ideal job or situation. It helps when you put things down in writing instead of just keeping them all in your head. Sometimes when you write things down and read them, patterns emerge and answers become plain and clear.
  • If you’re like me who didn’t really have a plan B, make sure you have funds to tide you over while you’re still figuring things out. I think this is important so you won’t get desperate and get a job you don’t really want just because you need a source of income. I’ve been lucky to have supportive loved ones, but I also had enough money saved to help with expenses while I sorted things.
  • Believe and stay positive. I think this is important because if you don’t have faith or don’t trust that the universe will help you, you won’t achieve anything. It’s going to be rough for a while and you need to stand your ground and believe that you will find what you are looking for.
  • Seek inspiration. Talk to others who have done similar things or research about related things online. It’s interesting because right around the time I decided to go for what I want, I started finding a lot of blogs and websites of people who turned their lives around by choosing their own paths. I will be talking about these inspirational blogs and people in another post.

I guess that’s it for now. Do you have any other advice for people who are thinking about switching careers?

Read the previous post in this series:

0 – Going Freelance a.k.a. Operation Jump Series