Transitioning from full-time work to part-time self-employment
Last summer I made one of the most significant decisions of my life when I switched from full-time work to part-time self-employment to give me the freedom to spend more time doing the things I enjoy doing and to achieve a better quality of life.
I had been in a demanding full-time job in a senior position as a single parent, having lost my partner some years before. I was more than ready to jump off what had become a relentless hamster wheel of balancing work and parenting.
I was fortunate in that I could take early retirement, which would give me a steady base income stream. But, nevertheless, the change still seemed like a huge leap having worked in the NHS for 36 years! Jumping off the hamster wheel didn't feel easy. There were a number of steps, however, that I found helped me make the decision and then make this a reality.
- Working through the financial impacts in some detail, so that I fully understood and could live with these balanced against the quality of life considerations.
- Setting a clear date for when I would make the transition, which allowed enough time for me to prepare for and to work back from and, at the same time, not being dissuaded from this.
- Creating a future vision for my life and being clear or having at least some idea as to what I would do initially when I transitioned. For me, this meant lining up a diploma course in transformational coaching as a second career and putting into effect long overdue house renovations.
Initially, the transition reminded me of when as a boy and I kept pet rabbits. I remember when I first let them out their hutch. They just stood there motionless, not really sure what to do and it was a while before they realised they had the whole garden to explore! My initial feelings were not dissimilar to this.
I also experienced a sense of grief in letting go of my previous career which was, in hindsight, not surprising, considering how much of my life had been invested in this. This is quite natural and I found it was important to notice and allow these emotions to work their way through. For me, this tended to manifest in a recurring dream where I found myself back in my old job but knowing I didn't belong there anymore.
Developing a new structure was key. Since leaving my full-time job, it has been important to develop new routines that give a new balance and structure to my life. For example, time for the gym and getting out each day to walk, with time for my coaching diploma and, more recently, setting up my coaching business now that I have qualified.
The beauty of this new structure is that I am in control of it and I can change and flex it as required or as new opportunities arise.
I don't regret the transition I made. Once I had established new routines, my days soon became full and varied - although, this did take some time and I am still refining things as I go, in what feels like an evolutionary process.
There have also been some positive spin-offs. I have been able to spend much more time with my sons and invest more in relationships than I was able to before, due to having to work long hours which often overlapped into evenings and weekends. This has been priceless. My health has also greatly benefited as I have time to meditate, get to the gym and walk regularly. I was lucky previously if I got to the gym once a week!
The journey isn't over and one of the privileges of my new situation is that I am able to continuously recreate my future and seek out new opportunities. In that vein, I'm currently looking to do some voluntary work with the homeless, something which I have wanted to do for some time but never had the time to do. I have also created a Vision Board which helps me to translate future aspirations into tangible goals for this exciting next phase of my life!
Coaching can really help in managing major life transitions and I wish I had accessed this during my own transition as it could have made the change easier.