Until recently, becoming a solopreneur had always been a “someday” thing — daydreaming wistfully about traveling while working from anywhere; making a living by managing my own schedule, time and ideas.
Meanwhile, there I sat at my desk every day, feeling like I should be happy in my dream job, but confused and disappointed in myself that I wasn’t. There was a lot I loved about my cubicle — which a friend later likened to a dog that had been crate-trained.
My biggest fear when I thought about becoming self-employed was that I wasn’t cut out for it. I knew one day I wanted to go solo with myspeaking, coaching and writing career — but I had this perception that I’d have to live out of a suitcase, sleep on couches, and fret over how to feed myself, which made me very hesitant.
I was also pretty tied down in the traditional American Dream. I had purchased a condo in 2008, a car in 2010, I faithfully maxed out my 401(k) every year, and I had a great job where I was making a six-figure salary, eating three free meals a day, taking free yoga classes, and getting crazy bonuses every year. It wasn’t just any job.
I was working at Google in my dream role as a Career Development Program Manager. For a long time, my friends and family told me I would be insane to quit. I was always a little disappointed when I met people at conferences and they seemed more interested in Google than me. “Google?! What’s the food like? Is it really as great as everybody says? Can you submit my resume? How do I get hired there?!” Google became part of my identity and for a long time I thought I was only valuable or interesting to people because I worked there. Thank goodness for my blog, which increasingly helped me knock-down that fear as my community grew.
When I would tip-toe around leaving Google in conversations with friends and family, it was almost like breaking up with a celebrity: “Do you really think you can do better?” Maybe not at another company, but…
I can do better…for me.
Here I was, 27 years old, watching almost all of my friends start settling down, and I couldn’t help but feel pulled in the opposite direction. I realized I wasn’t ready for marriage and babies; I wanted freedom and spontaneity — travel and free agency.
I dipped my toe in the solopreneur water by taking a three-month leave of absence starting in March to go on a self-funded book tour, and I instantly felt happier than I had ever been. I woke up every day feeling freer in every sense of the word — time, energy, and stress-levels all returned to normal after I stopped trying to juggle two full-time jobs. As I met readers and friends at events across the country, I basked gleefully in my new-found spontaneity.
But the decision of whether to go back to Google still weighed heavily.
I changed my mind every day, multiple times a day. I cried the first time someone suggested to me that I not go back. But in my gut I knew that the only reason I would be going back was out of fear. I also felt like it would be hypocritical of me to continue speaking, coaching and signing books with “Live big!” and “Take great leaps!” if I wasn’t willing to take my own advice.
I loved my job at Google, but I loved my own Jenny Blake Enterprises more. I wanted to see if I could make a steady income through 1:1 coaching, speaking engagements, and launching my online course that will help people take their biggest dreams from improbable idea to inevitable success. So I leapt. I gave Google my two-weeks notice on June 15, and I became an official solopreneur on July 5, 2011. I was terrified making the decision, but I have no regrets whatsoever. I’m also moving to New York City from the Bay Area in September. That’s the thing about taking great leaps — it creates a snowball effect and makes other huge changes seem almost easy in comparison. Once you’ve found your courage it forms a beautiful platform to continue making soul-stirring changes in your life.
Jenny Blake is the author of Life After College, and runs a popular blog of the same name. She has been featured on Forbes.com, US News & World Report, CNN.com and was recognized by Suze Orman as a leader among Gen Y. She is focused on helping others “Wake up, live big! and love the journey” through coaching, speaking, and her latest project, Make Sh*t Happen – an 8-week course that takes people’s goals from “impossible” ideas to inevitable success.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business’s development and growth.