Anna Maria Locke

Self Employment || Month One


It's a dark and rainy Friday morning and I'm sitting in our big oversized comfy chair wrapped in a fluffy blanket with my coffee, wearing my workout clothes because at some point I'm going to muster the motivation to make it to the gym for some endorphins. But for a little while I just want to sit here, soaking in the peace and quiet, and reflect on the crazy whirlwind that has hit me recently.

It's officially been one month since my last day at the zoo.

At the end of the summer I decided to take a huge leap and quit my full time job to be a small business owner/creative entrepreneur/life adventurer. I like to think that this is not the craziest thing I've ever done, because after five years of living in seven different cities, cross country moves, long-distance, and seemingly unending phases of being broke and funemployed, Ben and I are finally starting to slowly settle into a comfortable and stable place, so this decision wasn't actually a huge financial risk. I guess I'm simply unable to stay too comfortable for too long.

Even though I know that this is the right decision for my life and that it will work out for the long term, the last month has been a crazy and tumultuous ride. Being part of two back-to-back weddings definitely added to the emotional chaos, but being able to control my own schedule and work from wherever I am has been amazing.

When I left my job, I didn't expect to feel so vulnerable, unsettled, and thrown off. I assumed that once I could finally spend all my time on my "passion projects" and not have to cram them into early mornings, lunch hours, and late nights, I'd feel amazingly liberated and attain a sense of balance and fulfillment. That hasn't necessarily been the case. When you suddenly leave a job that you've held for over a year, and leave the people with whom you've been spending 40 hours a week of your life to work from home all by yourself and be responsible for your own success without a comfortable system in place telling you what to do, well, it's kind of a shock to the system. I've been lucky to have never experienced a bad break-up, but I almost felt like I broke up with my department. You tell yourself, oh it's ok we'll still be friends and I'll come visit and we'll hang out all the time and see each other more, but in reality life is fast and time moves on. Everyone is engrossed in their own little bubble of busy reality and it takes intentional action to make things happen.

Things I'm learning:

-to trust my intuition
-to believe in myself and the worthiness of my dreams
-that I don't have to have everything figured out all at once
-good things take time
-routine is necessary
-my energy slumps in the early afternoon, so that's a good time to get out for a walk (or watch an episode of Revenge guilt free)
-getting out of the house is the key to happiness
-I need to work harder at establishing work/life boundaries (difficult when I have lots of late night calls and webinars)
-I can't wait until I'm "inspired" to get shit done

The urgent physical feeling of "positive anxiety" is something new that I've discovered and have had to accept as a more or less constant part of my life now. I've been making myself extremely vulnerable by sharing my story, jumping into a marketing and networking-based career as an introvert, and turning my life into my work. I'm trying to channel that anxiety into inspiration and the motivation to keep waking up every morning and making progress on my goals, because fear and excitement give your stomach the exact same butterfly sensation. It's up to your mind to decide if those butterflies are good or bad.

What I'm discovering from my own experiences (and also my friends and peers) is that the "late twenties" is the phase in life to question your path, try new things, and figure out what makes you truly happy, what motivates you to jump out of bed in the morning and tackle each new day with courage and excitement despite the nagging doubts and fear. Don't settle for a certain path just because it's there. If there's anything that you've been wanting to do but have been putting off due to fear, insecurity, or simply because it's not "what people do," I challenge you to just take one baby step towards that ultimate dream, no matter how crazy it seems. Don't use time as an excuse, because we all have the same 24 hours in the day--what you do with them is up to you and your priorities. Time will pass no matter what, so you might as well spend it on creating a reality that you're in love with.

Say "yes" to your heart. Always live on the edge of your comfort zone. Accept the good butterflies, lean into the fear, and throw caution to the wind. If you chase your true authentic self, everything else will start to fall into place and opportunities and people will arise out of thin air to support you. It takes a lot of drive, hard work, persistence and consistency, and you will have moments of doubt that knock you down and bring you to your knees, but it kind of feels like magic when you have a random  moment when things all seem to be falling into place. For me, there is no other path than this one that I'm bushwhacking for myself out of the infinite possibilities of the future.

Here's to month two!