As I sit here in early February planning for 2017 and beyond (a little late I know), I started to reflect on what happened in 2016.
2016 was, well, it was different. It was frustrating, stressful, amazing, loving, stressful (yes I know I already said that), terrifying, rewarding and more.
Whilst others in the UK and around the world were up in arms about 2016, celebrities dying, Brexit, Trump, and so on, I was not. I could have easily jumped on the #fuckyou2016 band wagon with them, but, I didn’t and heres why!
Two became three
I started 2016 excited, we were expecting our first child and I couldn’t wait.
Whilst things at home were exciting, things at work were becoming increasingly more frustrating, things were not going as I planned. As the weeks and months went on, it was getting to me more and more, but I brushed it aside.
It wasn’t until early April that everything changed. I was warned that everything would change when you have a child, and I literally ignored it. “Sure, yep, I’m sure it will (whatever!).”
But they were right, the birth of my daughter changed my thinking on everything. I no longer wanted to put every waking hour into work, my priorities changed, my family became my priority, she became my priority.
If you are not happy, it is not worth it
If somebody would have asked me a couple of years ago “what are you going to be doing in 2, 3 or 5 years time?”, I would have said “I will be right here, helping the business push forward”. But things change, shit happens!
A couple of months after the birth of my daughter, I was stressed, I mean really stressed. Through conversations with Bel (my wife), she stated they didn’t notice anything. However, I felt that I was bringing my issues home and that it was effecting them. It couldn’t go on.
Things at work were changing, in more ways than one. My relationship with a few people had changed, and I felt that I could no longer affect positive change in my role or on the rest of the business. This was making me unhappy and became an issue for me.
Now, this is not sour grapes, far from it. I understand how things work. Decisions are made for the good of the business, but that doesn’t mean that you are always going to like or agree with them.
It was at this stage that I really started to consider leaving, but I had no idea what I wanted to do.
I spoke to a number of people, including former colleagues, recruitment consultants, friends and family as I determined my next step. One person I spoke to said “If you are not happy, then it is not worth it!” It was this statement that really made my mind up.
It all started with interviews for some really great companies. From a couple of web development agencies both locally and further afield, to one huge media organisation. Though I felt guilty for going for interviews, I knew I was doing the right thing, but there was one constant issue.
Whilst I progressed through different interview stages, meeting more senior members of the team, there was one nagging thing going on in my head.
Why don’t you try it yourself? This could be your only opportunity.
This thought kept whirring through my mind, but I had responsibilities, a newborn child, wife, mortgage. Could I make it work? Could I earn enough to support my family?
These thoughts led to Bel and I having long conversations, could we make it work? what if it fails? is it too soon?
Luckily, over the past few years I had managed to save some cash that was meant to be for rainy days. After crunching the numbers, and working out what we needed to do to survive, we worked out that those savings could cover us for a little while.
Worst case, I promised that I didn’t work after a few months I would just go and get a job. It was a combination of these two elements, I believe helped persuade Bel that I had to give it a go.
Shit, I quit. Now what?
Most people that make the decision I just did, take their time, build up a client list through freelancing enabling them to make an easy transition.
I had been so bought into the company since I started, that I was concerned I was going to change my mind. So, the morning after we made the decision I handed in my notice, there was no going back now.
A few days after handing in my notice, Bel and I agreed that I would take the entirety of August 2016 off. I promised that I wouldn’t do any work, I promised I would focus on recharging my batteries and my daughter.
Several days after I had that conversation with Bel, I had a chat with the management team who asked if I could stay on in a consulting capacity. This arrangement was great for me, but was also beneficial for the agency for a number of reasons.
For me, it meant I had guaranteed money for a period of time whilst I found my feet, something I felt I couldn’t turn down. It did however, mean I had some explaining to do. I was going to have to break my promise to Bel.
The honeymoon period isn’t forever
Fast forward a few months, and I started to get opportunities through word of mouth. Industry friends (you know who you are), started to recommend me for work, introducing me to companies that required my skill set.
I started to earn money.
My concerns of making it work are still there, and I think they always will be, but things are looking OK. This is all still new to me, and I am continuing to find my feet, but one thing I am sure about is the tough period that is always just around the corner. The honeymoon period will come to an end, I just need to be ready for it.
It is OK though, because as as I sit here this very moment typing, I wouldn’t change it for anything.
So, whilst people were tweeting #fuckyou2016, I was silently content, happy and excited about what the future held.