A Lightbulb Moment.

May 16, 2014 at 2:49 pm | Posted in Career angst, Choosing Happiness., milestones, Mindful. | 8 Comments

So I’m back at work. And yesterday, I left a doctor’s appointment in Peabody a little later than I wanted, then got stuck in traffic heading into Boston for a client meeting.

Thankfully I JUST made the meeting, but in the moments where I was stressed out, worrying about disappointing my client, frustrated with sitting in my car doing absolutely nothing (at freaking 10:30am. WTF?)… I had a thought which could potentially change everything for me and my family.

I’m not sure what it is about Tobin Bridge traffic, but I’ve had a number of life-changing lightbulb moments on that bridge. Like a year ago, when I decided we needed to get a puppy.

Anyway. Yesterday, the thought struck me:

I can’t do this anymore.

I have spent this week sitting in traffic in order to sit in a meeting where people talk about the wording of internal controls. And whereas it seems like everyone else in the room actually CARES about finding the right words and making changes to the internal controls in order to meet the auditors’ new criteria… I really don’t CARE.

I just want to do the work and go home.

Wait, scratch that. I don’t even want to do the WORK. Internal controls SUCK.

And I DEFINITELY do not want to spend 2-3 hours every day commuting.

It feels like I’ve been saying this forever, I know. And I cannot tell you how much energy I’ve spent over the years trying to think my way around my career.  (The cliff notes version of the issue: I am almost 40, I am not willing to devote my time AND money to learning a new skill. Whatever it is I end up doing, I cannot spend any more money on education to do so.)

And, too, there’s this idea: I don’t love accounting, but I don’t LOATHE it either.

My friend D and I have a joke: whenever there’s something that gets in the way of our daily chats (aka: work), we’ll respond: work is lame.

And the other day, she responded pretty thoughtfully that, for her, work wasn’t really lame. She liked her work, but when the circumstances prevented her from, say, eating lunch or leaving on time, that’s when it became lame.

It got me thinking. What do I actually LIKE about my work?

I like the people. I like being an expert, where they look to me for answers when they have questions. I like helping them get work done; in most cases they’re so understaffed that they’re truly grateful when I can offload some of the work for them. I like that I know how numbers from transactions flow into the financial statements. I love analyzing budgets; looking at what a company spent last month/quarter/year and where they’d like to dedicate resources this year.

Yes, I don’t LOVE my job, but there’s lots I like. And honestly, given my propensity for becoming obsessive about new ideas and goals in the first place, it’s probably good for my family and life balance that I don’t actually HAVE a job I love.

But I LOATHE the commute. I dislike the compliance work; I feel like all I do is help the auditors cover their asses – and create far more work than I believe necessary. I hate that for three days this week I’ve gone through nearly a tank of gas, spent $2.50 to spend 20 minutes every day on the goddamn Tobin Bridge, AND spent $20 for parking in the garage under the building. Every day I go in there, I spend $22.50. Not counting the gas and wear and tear on my car.

For what? To sit in meetings and argue over language wording of controls. And my overwhelming feeling is, MEH.

I can’t do this for much longer.

I’ve been considering, for a while now, going out on my own and getting my own small business clients who need help with bookkeeping, budgeting, reporting, and tax work. What has always stopped me before now is the fact that I’d have to start USING friends as networking pawns; asking people for favors, putting myself out there as a salesperson. I really just kind of hate networking; the idea of having an agenda to meeting up with someone other than a “hey! I haven’t seen you in forever!” makes me uncomfortable.

But I can’t commute to Boston anymore, you guys.

And I feel really strongly that people who own their own business should be able to focus on their BUSINESS, too. If you have a yoga studio, your expertise is in yoga, not financials and journal entries and invoicing and budgeting.

I happen to be good at the accounting and business stuff.

It really isn’t a sales pitch, then. I have a skill that people might need. And it’s just figuring out how to identify the need.

So I called a couple of friends this morning – close ones who happen to have their own businesses, who I knew would be supportive and help me out with tips and ideas. And they were great – helpful and supportive.

So yeah.

I think it might be time for me to strike out on my own.

In the short term, I have to keep doing what I’m doing: the woman for whom I work is understaffed already – as is the client I’m working for. And I committed to doing the 2014 controls work. I need to honor that.

But it doesn’t mean I can’t start laying the groundwork for my own business; trying to pick up a bookkeeping client here and there in the meantime.

I am so excited. And hopeful.

And a little nervous and scared, too.

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8 Comments »

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  1. Yay for epiphanies!
    Yay for supportive friends.
    Yay for considering cutting loose the albatross around your neck.
    Yay for quality of life.
    As I said to a close friend who is considering doing the same, it doesn’t have to be forever. It is a decision for the now and if things don’t play out the way you need them to in one-two years, you can make another decision.
    Go you. Do it to it.

  2. Yay!! This sounds like the right move. I think it would make you much happier (spoken as someone who hates her commute and is, ahem, writing this while stuck in traffic in downtown Boston).

    I also want to know, why don’t *I* have epiphanies while I’m commuting??

  3. Oh my goodness! This is so amazing! I’m so excited for you! And inspired by you. I can’t wait to see where this new path leads you. I’ll be here, cheering, the whole way.

  4. My dad has been working with small businesses for years and loves it….it’s very rewarding to help people figure out how to start a business and share your expertise with them!

  5. I am so so SO happy for you. Your commute sounds soul-destroying. Your solution sounds excellent (and a good new challenge/focus to maybe keep you from pushing goals into all the other parts of your life).

    And you have GOOD skills. If this doesn’t work out, there is nothing to stop you in a few years from looking for steadier work again. Honestly, it seems like a win-win to me.

    Hurray!

  6. This sounds like an awesome idea. I’m excited for you!

  7. This is awesome, and you are incredibly brave. I’m a big chicken, and that is what has kept me in a job that I am rather indifferent about- so I really admire your willingness to try something new. I’m really, really happy for you! :)

  8. That is really really smart—thinking specifically about what you dislike in your job and finding a way around that. Its so tempting to just get caught up in the negative and say “f it all” without a solid game plan in place. Going out on your own would give you awesome flexibility, too. Yay!


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