In the past 4 years since leaving my somewhat less than inspiring job at Leeds City Council and heading for the sunshine, there's been one question I've undoubtedly been asked more times than any other! And it came up the other day on a Skype session with a new mentoring client while discussing her own very exciting plans ...
'But actually HOW DID YOU DO IT!?' Really ... how?
The reality is at the time it didn't feel like I had a 'how'... it was a huge step into the unknown! But now looking back and with the amazing bonus of hindsight, I realise that without even really knowing it, I took a series of steps to 'plan my exit' (cackles like a villain) and in this post I'll share them with you.
Ready to leave your job? Read on for how :)
Sadly often the thought of leaving a job feels really stressful. But why should it, when it can be start of so many amazing opportunities!? I like to think about quitting your life, like planning a holiday! It's something you're hugely looking forward to, even if there is some work to before you get there ... you need a packing list!
What have you got already?!
By this I mean skills-wise. If you want to take that leap into a career change, starting your own business, perhaps remote working or something equally exciting, you need a few tools in your repertoire! And the chances are you have them already :)
Take some time to look at your CV with fresh eyes, thinking about the life you're working towards. What transferable skills do you have? Whilst you may have decided it's time for a change, what expertise have you gained in your current role that will stand you in good stead for your next move?
And these don't need to be restricted to career experience ... what about volunteering, hobbies, part-time courses you've done and even those kick-ass life skills you've got from a few years on the block?! This may feel uncomfortably like writing your first CV at 16 years old to get a Saturday job in WH Smiths, but getting creative and showing a well-rounded skill-base suited to your desired industry or client base is a great first step to making the move.
Now get it all on LinkedIn and start putting it out there!
What else do I need?
And I don't mean a new bikini! Having updated your public work personna, it wouldn't be surprising if you realise that whilst you're perhaps more experienced than you initially thought; there are likely to be some gaps in your experience to tackle if you're looking to land that dream job or launch a new business enterprise!
Plus, increasingly, in a world of digital remote working, creative nomads and solopreneurs, we are operating in an environment that needs us to be multi-skilled to a level like never before! It's easy to feel like you're a marketing manager, social media expert, accountant and photographer and that's before you've even started on your actual business!
We're not all born supermen and women... Time to go skill-shopping!
For me the experience gained by volunteering was invaluable in terms of transitioning my skills into a new industry and gaining a job abroad. Websites such as Workaway and HelpX provide incredible opportunities to exchange your time for experience gaining new skills, accommodation & food, whilst travelling to another country. Or closer to home, sites like Do It allow you to support causes you're passionate about by offering a range of practical and professional skills. Alternatively, why not write to your dream company and ask about opportunities, you might be surprised!
For more business-related skills, sites such as Skillshare and Udemy provide incredible platforms to learn all manner of expertise from gaining Instagram followers, to video editing, email newsletters, spreadsheets and basic graphic design! If it's a skill you can imagine, there's an online course you can follow! And the best part is a lot of the content is free or very affordable to access.
Yes the big one! How to afford to do it...? The reality here is that you need to save! The likelihood is that unless you're miraculously fortunate and find a dream job or have a business idea to rival Google, you need to have some money in the pot to live off while you work on your goals.
My experience, which is echoed by others who have taken the plunge, is that 3-6 months of your living expenses is a good budget to work to. Less and you might struggle ... more and it might well feel like you're really on holiday!
You have to think about life like a small business ... how can you reduce unnecessary costs, e.g new clothes, daily coffees, meals out; and increase income, e.g sell your unwanted s**t, rent out your house while travelling, get a part-time job or utilise your skill-base for additional income.
It is often the main worry that people have, and I wouldn't be being honest if I didn't say that at times it's been mine, but by being financially savvy, planning your spending and staying focused on the outcome, it needn't stop you. Which leads me nicely to...
The right mindset ...
As someone who supports businesses with their marketing and branding, I'm confident selling the benefits of products or services to an audience ... but for a long time I failed miserably at doing the same for myself! And lots of you will be the same. The problem is though; if you're not going to believe in yourself, it is unlikely anyone else will!
The solution for me was to start thinking about myself in the same way as my clients ... be your own personal brand!
Firstly this means being authentically and unapolegetically you! It's really hard, but you can't worry what your friends, great aunt or next door's cat think ... you've got to go for it! Remember: people only tackle the man with the ball.
Secondly, you need to have a plan to focus on your goals in the same ways that a company has a business plan. There are lots of free resources online to help you do this or look out for some snazzy Answers On A Postcard ones coming very soon!
Thirdly and arguably the most difficult ... you have to put yourself out there and get promoting how awesome you are! Get your CV updated and get it sent out to all the people that you want it to be seen by; start making the effort with your social media ... i.e less inspirational cat quotes and more content linked to where you're headed in your life; and start shouting to relevant networks where you can make valuable contacts.
It can be a lonely place taking the plunge to live life on your terms. Your friends might not get it and your family perhaps don't understand, but there are people who are out there like you!
Everything feels a whole lot less scary, when you start hanging out (even virtually) with people in the same boat ... in fact it can really give you the confidence to believe you can do it too!
Start going to events where people are into your thing, whatever that might be; or join likeminded solopreneurs and freelancers in co-working spaces in your city or when travelling - they're a great opportunity to network and make 'colleague' friends.
Plus get online into the infinite world of Facebook groups! These are an amazing resource to make contacts, share stories, promote your services and basically just be with like-minded people. Into blogging... there are groups for that; females entrepreneurs ... groups for that; unicorn inspired cupcakes ... yep, you guessed it!
Go get joining ... it's good to talk!
So there they are ... just a few tips to help you see that with the right approach it IS possible to leave your job and start working towards the life you want!
If you have any questions why not drop me a comment below or if you'd like to find out more about how I can support you to take the next step, contact me or sign up to my mailing list.
You might also enjoy :)