Should I stay or go?
Over the weekend, I was contacted by an old acquaintance. A cheerful lady who worked for a company based in the same building as my previous employers. All I knew about her was her first name as our chats rarely stretched beyond the atrocious Irish weather or a courteous hello. Our final brief encounter was a random meet and greet in a clothes store where pleasantries were exchanged and I explained how I had left my old job and gone out on my own - an adopted formality whenever I meet any ghosts from my past.
So I was a little surprised when I received an email from her. She explained how she wanted to get in touch because she was in a dilemma at work - there were redundancies and she had the option to leave but the fear of what lay beyond that decision was crippling. I had left a good job and started anew and could I offer any advice? She has a family and while a very skilled professional in the financial sector, should she dare take a risk and walk away from the only work environment she has known since graduating college?
And then it dawned on me: this time last year I was that lady battling my way through some of the most confusing, exciting, daunting, stifling, yet exhilarating times of my life. I had two choices: stay put or take a punt on life and leave.
I told her I couldn't answer for her but suggested she make a list of pros and cons about walking away and starting afresh. I wished her all the best and told her to keep in touch if I could be of any further help.
With her predicament playing on my mind I went back looking for my own list - three pages of scrawl tucked up in a notebook full of doodles, chasing my tail and notes to myself - a real sense of a confused self during March and April of 2016.
The pros of leaving included: choosing a Monday to Friday job so no more working Saturdays or burning the midnight oil on a Friday night; an opportunity to get a proper work/life balance for the first time in 13 years; and maybe even go back to college.
A short list by all accounts.
The cons to leaving were an entirely different story with endless reasons why I should stay put. Bills, a good salary, bills, a mortgage, bills, the pride of writing for such a respectable newspaper title, bills...and so on. The one word I circled repeatedly around the cons page was 'comfortable'. Because that's what I had become. Not challenged, not motivated or ambitious like I was when I started the job, but set in my ways, attuned to a certain way of working and plodding on regardless.
Leaving a job cushioned by this mentality is frightening. There were moments of sheer panic and anxiety in the months that followed where more often than not the voice in my head would scream: 'what the hell have you done?'
But I would push it to one side and go with my gut - an intuition that everything would be okay. That I had ideas to develop, a business to get off the ground and a new appetite for success.
talkWRITE is my proudest moment. Nine months into my business and with the most incredible clients, I am challenged daily. Steve Jobs famously said "the only way to do great work is to love what you do" and while I briefly understood this before albeit weighed down by stress and pressure, I finally get it completely.
Being out on my own feels bold, brave, liberating and intense. Everyday is spent writing, meeting new or existing clients and advising. At the risk of sounding cheesy, I love my life!
And journalism remains a strong part of me. I'm lucky enough to cover consumer reports for TV3's Saturday and Sunday AM and I write the odd travel feature for the Sunday Times, Sri Lanka and Sintra, in Portugal, just two of my most recent trips.
I look back to those pages telling me why I shouldn't make any changes and I see them for what they were: a state of mind where running away from new adventures was the easiest thing to do. I'm glad I didn't listen to myself.