A Square Peg in a Round Hole
The price of employment was my mental health
I saw a meme on LinkedIn earlier this week. It said “Entrepreneurs will work 80 hours a week for themselves to avoid working 40 hours a week for someone else.” For me, I don’t work quite so many hours these days but for a long time I did actually find it difficult to switch off. I used to worry that if I didn’t work all the time, I’d never be a successful woman in business.
However, how I was measuring success was all wrong. My gauge was purely financial. I was harking back to the days of being in full time employment, my regular salary, pension contributions, sick pay, and 8 weeks a year paid annual leave. I was comparing my self-employed turnover against my take home pay and these benefits, thinking I’d be successful when I’d exceeded all of this.
The REAL price I was paying to be in that employment was my mental health. And that is actually priceless.
When workplace culture is toxic
As an employee I’ve experienced disrespect, alienation, misogyny, a patriarchal system rife with a culture of blame and bullying. The modus operandi being to catch people out, the pressure of that was immense. I’ve worked in an environment where colleagues would happily throw their peers under the bus to deflect from their own misdemeanours, even lying and manipulating situations, to their own benefit. (The mean girl syndrome certainly does not stay in the school playground.)
I very much felt I was a square peg in a round hole. You can imagine how I struggled. When your number one value is integrity, it is impossible to engage in the required game of office politics to survive. In my last job I would be awake at 4.30am every morning, stressed about the day ahead. I was depressed and felt trapped. Early Sunday evening is when the sick feeling of dread at the pit of my stomach would start.
Why I prefer being self-employed
So, when I was recently asked the question “What keeps you from going back into employment?” It was quite easy to write a list of reasons why I would never go back down that route.
Here they are, in no particular order:
Flexibility – I have the power to choose when and for how long I work. I can start and finish when I want. I never have to worry about fitting essential appointments into my diary – dentists, doctors, haircuts, even beauty treatments and spa days if I wish. I can also choose to turn down work if it doesn’t fill my heart with joy.
Freedom - I can work from anywhere if I have Wi-Fi. In fact, I spend the first hour or so of my working day in bed with a coffee, snuggling my dog. I call it my horizontal office. I can choose what work I do; I no longer do anything that I don’t enjoy. If it’s necessary but not my forte I can outsource it.
Creativity – I have basically written my own job description. Self-employment has allowed me to bring together all my skills, knowledge, and experience into my perfect role. The work I do feeds my soul. It allows me to have a creative outlet, working with people I love to spend time with and makes me money.
Variety – despite having a loose routine and some tasks that require regular input my work is varied and keeps me excited. It’s all about the people I meet and the stories they have to tell.
No ceiling to earnings – when you are your own boss there is no top grade for your salary. You are not waiting on the approval of someone else to get a promotion. You can give yourself a pay rise whenever you like. You might need to tweak your business model to make it happen, but the sky really is your limit.
Unlimited personal development – similarly, you can choose the direction your personal development path takes. No more having to put a business case forward when you want to enhance your skillset. As a lifelong learner, I love that I can expand my skills in whichever direction I see fit for my life/business.
No commute – one of my jobs was a 140 mile round trip each day! All those unpaid hours on the motorway, the petrol costs and wear and tear on my vehicles. These days I trot down two flights of (leopard print carpeted) stairs. My mileage is minimal post covid.
No office politics – THIS is such a boon! I’m absolutely shit at this game and really have no interest into turning into the type of person who is good at it. People can be so odd. I once had a boss who gave us a lesson in how to put waste paper into the bin! I kid you not. He also spent hours labelling everything with one of those dynamo machines because it drove him mad if we didn’t put things back in the exact position it belonged on the shelves – micromanagement at its finest.
Remembering my why – when I think back to how bloody miserable I was in my previous full time employed role it is clear that I’m not prepared to compromise anymore. I’ve had a couple of part time positions since then, alongside my business. But, despite giving them my best shot, I’ve realised that I’m probably no longer employable. I cannot be doing with the politics, incompetence and red tape, it stresses me out. So, I’ve realised that my why is to preserve my mental health.
And finally, it’s my calling – all roads have led me here. All the learning experiences I’ve had, whether they’ve been good or bad have shaped me. The life lessons I’ve gone through have brought me here and all my decisions are informed by those previous experiences. I’m currently extremely happy with my work. It makes my heart sing. That’s my daily goal, to feel rewarded and enjoy my work. If it ain’t a hell yeah, then by default it’s a no.
Being your own boss can be lonely at times
The one thing that I’m not keen on about being my own boss is the isolation. It can be a lonely place at times and as an extrovert I draw my energy from being with people. Also, when the going gets tough or you need to throw ideas around, you need trusted peers, who get it, to support you. I know I work best when I feel recognised and validated too -which is where finding the right community is key. Ideally, it’s a space where I feel psychologically safe enough to be vulnerable, to tap into my feminine energy AND where it feels ok to show up in an alpha role as a leader too. When I’m with others who also feel that way, this is when the magic happens. THIS, is my vision for the FAB Network.
“When women affirm women it unlocks our power.” Elaine Welterworth
FAB Network for women in business - next event in Nottingham
The past year has absolutely flown by and the FAB Network is almost one year old already!!!
To mark the occasion, I've invited the PINK POWERHOUSE, TazThornton, to create some magic...
THE MOST EMPOWERING THING YOU CAN DO INDOORS WITH YOUR CLOTHES ON…
Well, most of your clothes, at least!
Join Taz Thornton (Personal Empowerment Specialist Of The Year for the second year running, award-winning coach and bestselling author) for a special FAB event to mark our first birthday.
Taz trained with the same team who taught personal change guru Tony Robbins to walk on fire, and now, she’s bringing some of her magic to FAB.
Though the dynamic activities you’ll be offered are being kept top secret until the day, we can promise you an opportunity that will allow you to safely stretch your comfort zone, set some power-full future intentions and prove to you that you are capable of FAR MORE than you ever believed possible.
Get ready to experience extreme empowerment, led by one of the UK’s leading specialists.
When asked to provide a few words to prepare people for the day, The Pink Powerhouse had this to say: “Errm… don’t drink before we do the thang and it’s probably best not to wear tights on the day. Oh, and get ready to hand over your phone and ask someone to film you in action… you’re gonna want to prove you did it afterwards.”
It's going to be at the Poppy and Pint in Nottingham, 11am-2pm, Tuesday 7th March. Grab your ticket today for just £25 (including a scrummy brunch) because it’s going to be one of the best ever days of women empowering women and power unlocking for sure! I’d love you to join us.
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