When I was younger I vowed I would never work in an office job. But when I came back from travelling post-university I was desperate for a job to pay the bills and the perks of a steady paycheque outweighed my wanderlust. And I could always quit, right?
I was 24 when I started working in an office. I liked that I felt like a grown up and could pay my own rent and had the freedom to do whatever I wanted. After a few months the novelty started to wear off and the anxiety started to set in.
At the three year mark I was miserable, and felt stuck. I worked for a great company, in the industry I loved, with amazing like-minded people. At the same time, I was stuck behind a desk, I felt trapped by the confines of the 9-5 and felt a rush of dread every time my phone rang. I fantasized of a life where I could have the freedom to work my own hours, go to yoga during the day and feel passion for my life’s work, my true calling.
I started seeing a psychologist, a nutritionist and a career counsellor. Anyone who could help me in anyway figure out what the heck I should do with my life. I took out countless self help books from the library praying to find an answer in the pages I read. I was really scared to make the wrong decision, but finally I became more scared of what would happen if I made no decision at all. I knew that if I was going to live a passionate and fulfilled life I wouldn’t be able to do it in in the confines of a cubicle.
I set a meeting with my boss and repeated to myself over and over again “have the courage to follow your heart and intuition” (a Steve Jobs quote) until I finally managed to blurt out the words that had been weighing on me for years. It was liberating and terrifying all at the same time. I had no idea what I was going to do, but the funny thing about life is that no matter how much you stress, and worry, and fret, everything always works out the way it is supposed to. I wish I could go back in time, save myself the sleepless nights and tell myself that everything will be ok, that everything has a way of working itself out, to trust the process and trust myself. Some part of me knew all along what it was I needed to do, I just needed the courage to do it.
I do not regret my corporate days in the least. I grew so much in that time. I learned how to be professional, I really matured and met people that supported me and helped me on my journey. I also learned what I didn’t want, what I didn’t like and it helped me to shape my vision of the future that I desired.
I wrote this on the eve of the last day of my corporate job in 2014. Whether you feel stuck in a rut you can’t get out of, or are dreaming of leaving your desk job, just know you are exactly where you need to be.
Here’s a list of 20 Life Lessons I learned:
1. Confidence is king – this is one of my biggest issues, believing in myself. What I’ve learned from all my bosses and peers who I look up to is you need to believe in yourself. Nothing can hinder your career more than self-doubt. I’m not saying you need to be cocky, but be confident in your abilities and others will be too.
2. Humans aren’t meant to be parked at a desk all day – nuff said.
3. E-mail, phone and real life etiquette can go a long way, just BE NICE! (even if other people are not)
4. You don’t always have to dress the part but putting in a little extra effort when it counts can pay off and doesn’t have to hurt your wallet.
5. Don’t burn bridges. You never know when you’ll run into a colleague or client later in life. Networking is a real thing, not just a buzzword. You never know who will be willing to help you and in what ways.
6. Only eat out on occasion, it will save you big bucks and a few pounds #brownbagginitfolife!
7. It’s ok to dream bigger than your cubicle. It doesn’t mean it will come true, but never give up on your goals. On the flip side, don’t look down on those who are perfectly happy in the corporate world. You’re not better than them and vice versa.
8. Save. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but make sure you’re tucking a little away every pay cheque. A little goes a long way and one day it can buy you a plane ticket 😉
9. It helps a whole lot to be surrounded by like-minded people.
10. Have hobbies outside of work, it makes the days go by faster and your life a little more fun.
11. Don’t bring your bad day home with you.
12. Commuting sucks. Live where you work or work where you live.
13. You are replaceable. This is a bit harsh but it took me awhile to realize that there will always be someone willing and able to take your spot. Work hard, work smart.
14. It’s ok to be an introvert.
15. Learning is for life and doesn’t stop after you receive a diploma.
16. Your parents may not understand. Times have changed, but they will love you no matter what.
17. You don’t need more things, you need LESS things. Simplify, de-clutter.
18. You don’t have to like everybody and not everybody will like you, and that’s ok.
19. Change is good. Change is scary. Don’t let FEAR keep you from your dreams.
20. You’re capable of more than you think.