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On abandoning corporate life

Confessions of an (almost) escapee

Originally posted 28 April 2016 on my blog Wantrepreneur.

In mid-April 2016, I made a decision that I knew instantly would change my life forever. It would change how I see myself, how I view work, and how I design my life. It’s a decision that will affect the course of my career, my relationships with those closest to me, and my perception of myself.

That decision was to pursue a dream that I previously presumed unachievable, something I thought I would never be brave enough to try: to start my own business.

Actually making the decision took me by surprise. I hadn’t been planning to make a decision on that particular day, and hadn’t even really been aware of the criteria needed to make that decision, or what that decision should be. I’d known for several months that something needed to change, and that leaving my job would be a big part of that, but I couldn’t figure out the path beyond it, and this had rendered me paralysed with indecision.

I had looked outside of my company and applied for several jobs in startups, none of which had gone anywhere (probably because, on paper, I wasn’t qualified for them and had no experience of working in startups or connections to the startup world). I felt like I was at a dead end, and didn’t know where to turn. I didn’t want to leave my well-paid job because I wouldn’t be able to afford to pay my rent in London, but I also knew that money wasn’t my main motivator. I had a feeling there was something better out there for me, but I didn't know what it was. I just knew it wasn't this.

In the end, the trigger was just another mediocre day in a job that was crushing my spirit. I found myself so resigned to the queries that faced me that day, that I just knew I had to take action and leave, even if I had nothing else to go to, as it was stopping me figuring out what it was I really wanted to be doing.

Allowing myself to consider ‘leaving’ felt like a huge relief. All of a sudden, I felt better able to handle the queries, because I felt that there was an end in sight. And then a funny thing happened. Within minutes of allowing myself to think in this way, I began to think of what I would do next. The possibilities stretched out ahead of me, and I began to plan my next actions in my head. Escape the City, Live your Legend and Tim Ferris's Four hour work week popped into my head. I googled Escape the City and found there was an upcoming intake for two of their courses that exactly fit with my timelines. For the first time in a very long time, I was excited about what I would do next. I had hope.

In the forefront of my mind was also the fact that I had been dreaming about starting a business for several years, and had spent considerable time thinking of and capturing ideas. One in particular I believe has mileage, and I have a website and a prototype. I was at the point of deciding not to move forward with this simply for the lack of time available to me, but now that no longer had to be the case.

I know that all the advice in startup 101 manuals is to stay in paid employment as long as you can whilst you’re starting something up on the side, in order to minimise outgoings for as long as possible. For me though, I realised that I just had to leave that job. It was poisoning my mind, my outlook and stopping me seeing possibilities that did genuinely exist. Whilst ever I was in that job, I was unable to move forward with my ‘new’ thinking. Something had to give, and I didn’t want to give up on my dreams.

By the end of that seemingly ordinary day, I’d gone from despondency and feeling trapped to feeling elated, relieved, confident, energized and excited about life.

This is me celebrating in secret on the day I made the decision to leave corporate life. How happy is that face?!

Hey guys, if you liked this blog post, you might like some of my other articles on Wantrepreneur. The articles here document my journey from wannabe entrepreneur to entrepreneur: all the highs, all the lows. It's a work in progress and I'd love to hear what you think, so drop me a line at clairedransom@gmail.com or on Twitter.

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