How It Feels to Leave Your Job & Work for Yourself

August 24, 2011

In one word: terrifying.

Actually, now that I’ve made the decision, now that there’s no going back, I feel excited. Since Monday, my first day of working independently, I’ve felt totally pumped! But a few weeks ago, while I was still deciding whether to make this move, I felt mostly terrified.

I did not feel this kind of terrified the last time I quit my job. When I left the Houston Chronicle in 2008 to backpack solo through Africa, I was terrifed about arriving in a dangerous city in Cameroon by myself after dark, terrified about getting sick and having no one to help me, and terrified about my long-term plan, what I’d do after backpacking for six months.

But I was not terrified about how I’d earn money. Back then, I’d saved plenty for my trip, even enough to hold me over after I returned home. Whatever I earned through freelancing in Africa was icing on the cake.

This time around, I’m depending on myself for consistent income. Enough income, I might add, to live in my city of choice, the expensive Washington, D.C.

I know where about two-thirds of that income will come from. I already make a good amount through my social-media consulting business, Socialexis (I explain how in my social-media biz guide), and I’ve added a few more clients to that roster. The challenge is filling the rest of that income gap, figuring out where the other third will come from.

I know how I’d like to fill it. I want to continue to freelance as a journalist. I want to help organizations and small businesses with blog strategy. I want to write another e-guide — and help individuals or organizations that have ideas but not the writing prowess create their own e-books, too. I want to launch an online class to help authors create successful blogs. I want to teach an in-person class at a university on journalism or writing. I want to get more involved in entrepreneurial journalism. (If you want to work with me in any of those capacities, by all means, contact me!)

What I’m saying is, I’m not at a loss for ideas on how to make money. Now I have to choose two or three of these objectives and make them happen. Which is, quite frankly, scarier than going to the office every day and knowing I’ll collect a paycheck every two weeks.

Of course, the terrifying part of this plan is also what makes it awesome. If I’d filled my cup to the brim, maxed out my capacity, accounted for every little piece of my income pie, I wouldn’t be available when an opportunity pops up.

Which is why while part of me is terrified, the other part is celebrating. Celebrating freedom! Freedom for my days, my time, my location. But most importantly, freedom for my ideas. Because when your ideas have the space to run, that’s when you really grow.

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10 Replies to “How It Feels to Leave Your Job & Work for Yourself”

  • Keli Gwyn says:

    Lexi, I admire your courage as you embark on a new adventure and wish you well as you seek to find the most fitting ways to generate the income you need to realize your dreams.

  • Well I only know you through your blog, but I tell you I am so impressed with your courage. Despite your terror, you press on. Keep it up. I’m very proud of you!!!

  • Good for you! I’m a big proponent of scaring oneself every once in a while, otherwise we’re probably not challenging ourselves enough.

    I left my “real” job a year and a half ago, and although I didn’t have the immediate financial concerns you do, I was terrified and everyone thought I was crazy.

    I am now just getting to the point where I think things are going to take off, and I’ve never had so much fun along a journey (particularly a career one).

    Good luck! (I’m a new follower)

  • I am so excited for you! What a bold, brave step. I’m so interested to watch you go through this process and see how you do it. Go, Alexis, go!

  • Oh boy, your “I want” paragraph is remarkably similar to mine! As is the whole “leaving your job for better things is scary and thrilling” part.

    You already know my husband and I are embarking on a 8-12mo road trip through South America next month. I’ll use that time to build up a travel and photography blog, build out my personal branding blog, and practice living without the 9-5 paycheck. When I come back, I want to help nonprofits create social media plans, train nonprofit and community leaders in how to tell stories and create value online, maybe pick up a few permanent clients of my own. Plus a billion other things. I can’t wait, and the story begins now!

    You’ve been inspiring since I started following you. Looking forward to seeing where our journeys take us!

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