How I Rediscovered Myself by Working For Myself

working for myself

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Almost two years ago I lost my job through changes in the organization I had devoted my career to.  It was unexpected, and I was shocked at the time.  It took me many months to heal from the experience as I went through doubt about my abilities, my future and myself.

What surprised me the most? Discovering the toll stress had taken on me.  Working in a large organization is fraught with changes, competition and unwritten rules. I figured at the time that if I just worked harder and became known as a high producer I would be successful.  Was I ever wrong!

Fast forward to today. I am building a thriving coaching practice that is all mine.  As I look back over the past year, I realize I have learned something so important, so valuable that I don’t believe I will ever choose to work for someone else again. I have rediscovered me.

What do I mean? Wasn’t I always me? Well yes, but I was working against the backdrop of someone else’s time, structure, values and decisions. It felt at the time like I was swimming down a rapid flowing river trying to keep up with the twists and turns ahead.

Now I enter my home office every morning with a sense of relief and calm.  This is no river.  This is a serene pool big enough for me to play, create, and best of all push myself in directions I choose to take.  I am on a steep learning curve and I still don’t fully know what I don’t know.  But that is one of the best parts.

My day is filled with serving others, making decisions, designing new approaches and building relationships. I make my own schedule and align it to when I am most productive.

How I choose to show up is closely aligned to my brand. And my brand is me.  I have finally discovered that I don’t have to “show up” in a role. I don’t have to “fit in” to other’s norms. I don’t have to play a game with shifting rules.

Instead, I am discovering what it feels like to live my own values.  If I don’t think a client is right for me, I can refer them to someone else.  If I want to take a risk, like developing online courses as part of my offerings, I can do it.

The only thing I must do is stay aligned with the International Coach Federation’s competencies, engage in on-going personal and professional development, and have my own coach. The rest is entirely up to me.

So, what does all this freedom really mean?  I actually get to be the authentic me.  And it feels amazing.  My stress has reduced substantially and my work life balance is well tuned. Very little rankles me anymore. I have energy to place on the right things like family, friends, healthy living, and new interests.

And best of all, I can live my values to serve others. People have always been my focus. I believe people are a company’s biggest asset.  So when I realized this wasn’t the case, except with lip service, in my former workplace, I knew I didn’t belong.  Now when I work with people, they expect me to not only be a professional expert, they expect (and deserve) me to show up fully and wholeheartedly as me.

My success in my business and my life depend on being my authentic me!

I am not for a second suggesting everyone should work for themselves. Entrepreneurship is hard work and takes time and passion to reach the point of making a good living.  It isn’t for everyone.  But it doesn’t mean you can’t live your life on your terms. My sister works in academia and loves it.  A close friend works for a small organization devoted to improving the lives of children. Both women enjoy their work and have created a lifestyle that allows them to be who they truly are.  Sure there are always compromises, but knowing you can be the best version of yourself every moment of the day is liberating.

Photo by Rosa majalis

17 thoughts on “How I Rediscovered Myself by Working For Myself”

  1. Thanks for sharing your inspirational story. I have recently found myself at the same starting point — no job and looking to create something new. My work had always been technical and fairly removed from the marketing and sales aspects so critical to any business. Do you have any tips to share from how you tackled the promotion of your new business 2 years ago?

    1. Thanks for reading Denny. Good question. It’s all about building relationships. I used my own personal networks as well as social media – twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. Joining groups that are aligned with your work within the last two has been good as it gets your name out, builds your SEO and helps to get a sense of your industry. I also blog regularly to help build a following. Probably the most important thing to start with is to think about who your ideal client is and always have them in mind when you talk about your work. Don’t be afraid of creating a niche as we can’t be everything to everyone! Good luck and know that it takes time, work, passion and persistence.

        1. How wonderful Lape! I am very pleased for you. I hope you find it as fulfilling as I do. There is nothing higher than being of service to others with passion and commitment. All the best to you. Please keep me posted on your journey, Eve

  2. “Now I enter my home office every morning with a sense of relief and calm. This is no river. This is a serene pool big enough for me to play, create, and best of all push myself in directions I choose to take. I am on a steep learning curve and I still don’t fully know what I don’t know. But that is one of the best parts.”
    I consider this one of the best parts of working for myself as well. The sweet spot where uncertainty, self-improvement, learning, honing your skills, creativity and possibilities meet.

  3. Hi Eve, thanks for sharing this. Stories like these help me see over and over that I’m not strange or lacking for experiencing such an inner struggle as an ‘outwardly successful’ corporate employee. It’s coming up 1 year now since I started exploring my own thing; which happens to be quite different to what I studied and was employed as! Like you I can’t believe how healthy, happy and calm I feel. If I’d known years ago I’d have never tried to shoe-horn myself! Full autonomy is, to me, worth more than the best salaries and bonuses out there. All the best with your work.

  4. Eve,
    Thank you for sharing how this change in your life affected you. I can absolutely relate to the idea, “my brand is me”.

    I have recently started working for myself and I find it both liberating and terrifying to know that my blog is reliant on me. The liberation I feel in creating something new and just as I want it is really fantastic. The terrifying bit of the whole project resting on my shoulders, though daunting, is actually really motivating.

    Thanks for the reminder that I am never really alone in this endeavor as many others are striving for the same type of change I am. I was wondering if you began working for yourself as an already certified trainer or if the certification came after you decided to make the change?

  5. Hi Amanda, thank you for your comment. My certification came after I left my position. For me it was important to take the experience I had gained over the years and marry it up with the knowledge and skills through education and accreditation. After I did that I started my business.

    1. Thanks for your post Jajah. My question to you is, can you do both? Keep your day job and begin to slowly build your own business? If you are passionate about having your own business, what might be stopping you from doing it in your spare time?

  6. Hi, thank you for an inspiring story. That’s a good evidence that everything I do – it’s all for good. And all the downs are just for one reason – to do it much better.

    1. Love your attitude Agne! And here is the thing – when working for yourself, you CAN put service to others first and sharing your gifts authentically. It truly is all for good!

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