Being Lucky Had Nothing To Do With My Career Success

I left my full-time job almost a year ago to go work for myself.

There was no dramatic departure of me turning over my office desk and laughing hysterically, as I exited the building filled with glee. No, not at all. I was certainly ecstatic about finally leaving that chapter of my boring life behind (and old boss if you’re reading this…it’s me, not you).

It was a long drawn out process that took me a full year to do. I took a contract position after having a permanent full-time role for the last 5 years. Completely shifting into a different job title, position, and power.

I went from my Social Service role into managing the Communications at a Community Health Centre. I was able to mold the new position into my dream career. Own office, assistant and say so on how & where I wanted to work. (I’ll choose working from home for $500 Alex.)

Left me asking myself…why didn’t I get the courage to go after what I wanted sooner?

The new life direction of working for myself gave me the permission to expect only great outcomes.

Taking on this contract position seemed like a great idea at the time, it would give me ample room to prepare for my departure, mentally as well as financially. My after job plan was to go back to school to increase my skills and have half of my day back, a day that wasn’t riddled with people who believed having a job is the only form of making money.

I would work on my business during my lunch hour, after work & on my days off. Doing it for a while, brought me to a realization…I was making the biz & life I wanted, secondary.

That was how I made the decision to switch gears, and from there I never heard the end of it. Most of my work colleagues wanted to know…how I was soo lucky.

Issue #1: To Call Me Lucky Is To Suggest I Didn’t Work Hard And Earn My Stripes.

Before the major wake-up call, when I was living my life on autopilot. I was damn good at my job, so good I could do it with my eyes shut. But I was also bored.

I couldn’t live another solidarity day, writing out proposals for funding grants or attend another community meeting listening to complaints of unmotivated residents, rather than making an actual change, connecting resources to people and promoting community leaders.

I wanted to make an impact that lasted for years to come, not until the grant ran out. I was over it!

I took inventory of my skills to figure out what else could I be good at, something that could actually make a difference. I trained myself through online courses, books, and industry mentors to eventually, being hired for a position I didn’t have formal education for.

The days my colleagues went straight home to veg out in front of the T.V. — I was studying.

The small menial tasks others turn their nose up to because it wasn’t their job, I happily volunteered.

And when I was given the opportunity to show the Executive Director what I could do, I over delivered.

I went the extra mile, got recognized for my efforts and willingly helped the organization meet their strategic goals, not related to my current position. I had no hidden agenda but to elevate my skills and feel more productive at the end of my workday.

Issue #2: To Call Me Lucky Is To Diminish Your Skills Of Living A Life That Excites You

Word started to spread of my departure from a permanent full-time position to choosing a 1yr. contract. Every time a colleague asked me of my future plans, it would go like this:

“So once the contract is up you’ll just get back your old job, right?”
“What will you do for money?”
“How will you afford to work for yourself?”
“Have you really thought this through?”
My favorite:
“What does your mother think of this?”

I would try to ease their fears for me and tell them, I was going to work for myself and return back to school to grow my skill set. It was never a good enough answer. They expected me to say, I recently won the lottery or I came into some big inheritance.

It just didn’t make any sense to leave such a secure job with benefits, a decent salary to…well, uncertainty.

To completely shift your life away from societal expectations is to unconsciously make the statement “I am better than you”. Ultimately, my actions were saying “Screw this, there’s a better life for me and I’m going to go find it!”

It made those around me, who’ve settled into their mundane routine feel uncomfortable. It triggered deferred dreams…I made it seem possible to live a life that gets you fired up.

Issue #3: To Call Me Lucky Is To Say I Deserve Just Enough But Not Too Much More Than You

You know the nice nasty types? The ones that smile to your face and say they’re happy for you but truly could induce their own vomit session. Those were the ones that called me “lucky”, the most.

I worked hard for everything I’ve ever gotten. I never bragged or boast about my accomplishments, if anything I worked in silence. Making sure I didn’t step on anyone’s toes.

What did that get me?

Unnoticed, underrated and overlooked. That was my fault.

When a person is so used to having the advantage over you, it can be a little startling when the tables turn. The only response they have to your growth and success is “You’re so lucky.”

I negotiated my time and the value I brought to the table, my supervisor agreed. I worked 3 days out of the week at the office, half days when I was in, on full salary and I had my own assistant. I sat down and wrote out what I could do to meet organizational goals, I set my own deadlines and executed ahead of the timeline. I came in early, left late and worked on my days off.

Nobody knew this, though.

  • They only saw me leaving the office in the afternoon, as I walked out the door… “You’re so lucky.”
  • Missing me on Monday & Friday workdays, behind my back… “She’s so lucky.”
  • Chosen to work side by side with the Executive Director on staple projects, under their breath… “Lucky.”

I was just Tennile, when I normally came into work, not a threat to anybody. Now I was “Tennile is soo lucky.”

If that year, of my drawn-out departure taught me anything — it’s this: find your purpose in life and you will have the willpower to get through anything! All the naysayers, undercover haters, misguided failures, and the hard damn work, won’t affect your progress…only propel it.

Now working for myself full-time at sheisepic.com, I get to help women write their way into a life & biz they love.

So, they too can be considered…one of the “lucky” ones.

*Article originally featured on Huffington Post.
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