Five Lessons Learnt When I Chose to Leave Corporate Life

In December 2012, with tears in my eyes, I departed my corporate life after 18 salaried years. I was heading for 40 and convinced that there was something more and deeper that I should be doing with my life.

As 2013 dawned, I felt scared and lost. I wasn’t working and now needed to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up!

Fast-forward a few years and I now feel passionate and inspired. Not to mention healthier and less stressed. After months (if not years) of navel-gazing, learning, downloading and exploring, I finally figured out where my passions lay and am now in the process of creating my dream life.

Along the way, I have learnt a number of lessons about the transition from corporate executive to heart-led business owner. Here are five that I wish I’d known at the outset…

1. The size of your inbox shouldn’t govern your self-worth.

As a busy director, I was used to receiving and dealing with dozens of emails daily. Suddenly my inbox was completely empty. I had answered everything and was waiting impatiently for the next message to arrive.

Obviously it was great to be on top of everything, but during the lull before my business started taking off, I definitely had days of feeling lonely and unloved.

It took a while to realise that the only person now relying on me to resolve their issues was me. And I wasn’t going to start sending myself emails!

2. Signing up to newsletters isn’t a substitute for developing your business.

I’ve always loved learning, and one of the ways I’ve done this over the past few years is to sign up for newsletters from other online business owners.

This was great in terms of idea generation and seeing how it should be done. It also helped prevent the issue of having an empty inbox! The only problem was, I was spending hours each day reading everyone else’s tips on x ways to do y, but that I wasn’t actually spending enough time on growing my own business.

Now the priority is sorting out my own newsletters, with a short look through others at the end of the day.

3. Human interactions keep you sane.

If you’re used to being in an office with colleagues around you to talk to, then the transition to being home alone can be somewhat traumatic. I would have days where I didn’t speak to another living soul. Then, when I finally interacted with a human being, I would get verbal diarrhoea.

Try and get outside everyday and meet real people. Even if it’s just a visit to the local shops. Alternatively, there are loads of supportive Facebook groups that you can join to bounce ideas off people and get feedback on your work.

4. Take time to get the balance right.

This is your new life and you can structure it any way you want, but you do need to have a plan.

Whether you decide to schedule a yoga class for mid morning, or want to do all your work between 6 and 11am, this is your chance to create your perfect balance of work and play.

Don’t get stuck in the rut of thinking you have to work between 9am and 5pm, unless of course you want to.

5. Don’t be surprised if your friends don’t get it.

Responses have ranged from exclamations of how lucky I am, to being told to get a job or that I won’t last a month.

For the record, it’s not luck, it’s years of planning and organising my life to be able to do this. Along with a good dollop of bravery and self-belief!

Try to be very patient with friends. Many are just jealous that you’ve managed to get off the corporate merry-go-round. Other are just interested in what you are now doing, but don’t know how to ask you about it.

So, can you relate to any of these? What worries you most about moving out of the corporate world and into the unknown? Do you have any lessons that you’d love to share? If so, do let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

With love,

Angela x

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