At the beginning of 2016, I made a big change. You may remember when I wrote this post about how I started working in the fitness industry, or about how I turned my blog into my business, and in reading those posts you may assume that this Lady would never have a desk job again working for someone else. Well, I did end up going back to the the corporate world. I didn’t see it coming either. I thought it would be fun if we did some digging into that change, while at the same time try to give you some insight that can help you gain perspective on your own situation — learning from someone who’s taken both paths. (Edited to add: I ended up leaving this full-time role in March 2017 to go back to being a freelance and contract worker … but the details are still important, so read on!)
These days, I’m working in a regular full-time office gig. The job requires me to drive to work and sit in traffic about 45 minutes on the way there and just under an hour on the way home (it’s not accessible via the BART/subway/public transportation — or you can bet I’d be on there with my backpack). I pack all my foods for the day and schedule my life outside of those working office hours. And during the work day, I have to force myself to get up and walk around the office complex just to get in some steps, because I’m not teaching multiple classes or working at the gym all day, giving me tons of movement organically.
Making big changes in my job world
Last year at this time, I was working mostly for myself. Between writing A Lady Goes West, doing freelance writing for various websites and two fitness instructor jobs, I was booked solid, but I was doing it on my own time. It was a real hustle. It wasn’t easy. But it had a few good things going for it — for instance, I never had to worry about my activity level being too low during the day, that’s for sure.
Where I’m at now is such a big transition from where I was then, it seems like I owe you guys an update — most importantly because I am in a unique position to give you insight on what it’s like to work in two very different environments.
Going from freelance to full time
But first, some backstory, because you seem to want to know more about what I’m doing. While I had no intentions of heading back into the corporate world, my current job is pretty cool in that it’s all about my interests. Basically, I’m in charge of a blog on a big scale for a big company, focused on healthy living, fitness and wellness — I get to travel to L.A. frequently to manage photoshoots (and sometimes be on camera), and I learn a lot from the interesting people we profile. Oh, and did I mention I already worked for the company as a group fitness instructor before taking on this new role? Perfect match, right?
When all the wheels were in motion for my current gig, it all just seemed to fall into place quickly so that I could make the big change. Over the course of a couple of weeks, I ended ongoing freelance relationships, put in my notice for a few classes that I was teaching, found a dog-walker for Rudy and readied myself for a huge change in my life. I have to admit, even though I had spent many years of my post-college life working a regular corporate job in public relations and communications both in Orlando and San Francisco, I was super nervous to head back into this environment. Yet, don’t you know … it’s like riding a bike.
I definitely get to do some fun stuff in my role. However, most days, I’m just a regular office worker like everybody else trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle and a social life. (Want to see what I’m up to? Visit the 24Life.com site, where I’m the editor.)
What it’s like to be in an office every day
But let’s be honest, there are times when I’m at work and I scroll through Instagram and see my blogging peers having a picnic in the middle of a Wednesday with fresh home-made salads, which they’re enjoying after a mid-morning workout class with friends, wearing fabulous new activewear and sporting a tan. I look down at my linty black pants, reposition my crossed legs and try to get back to focusing on the task at hand on my screen, knowing that I miss my poor puppy at home, who is being walked by a hired dog-walker in the middle of the day. That photo-worthy life is not in my reality anymore on most days. And maybe it’s not in yours either.
Unless you have a very flexible schedule, a sales job requiring you to go to different appointments all day or a telecommuting role that gives you the ability to multitask and bounce around, you’re chained to the endless emails in your inbox, meetings and responsibilities, and you probably don’t get to make a nice lunch in your own kitchen every day either. You also likely don’t get to dictate your own schedule as you please. But you know what, you probably have a job with many perks that you may not be appreciating. And that’s what I’m here to remind you about today. No matter the path you’re on right now, I bet it has some good things going for it.
Even though it seems like working for yourself is all sunshine and roses (it may look like that on some blogs and on Instagram), there are definitely pros and cons of each situation. Now what I’m about to do is talk in general terms, and this isn’t only about working for yourself as a blogger, it’s about doing your own thing overall. Because I’ve gone back and forth between both situations and have a unique perspective, I thought you’d like to see this based off my own experiences entirely. You never know what works until you try it for yourself. You know? Let’s do it …
Pros of working for yourself
- Make your own schedule. Pretty clear: if you don’t feel like working, you don’t have to.
- Travel. Travel. Travel. You are in charge of your own vacation days. You can go anywhere you want, when you want. You don’t have to skip a holiday with your family because you’ve run out of days off and you’re needed in the office.
- Work wherever you want. Whether it’s a coffee shop or your bed, it’s up to you. Nobody is looking for you over a cubicle wall at set hours.
- Take on as much or as little as you want. You can say no to projects if you feel overloaded. There’s no one telling you what to do.
- Ability to make as much money as you can work for. How hard you work is hopefully how much you get paid for. Which means if you really go for it, you can make extra income.
- Make your food at home. Okay, this may not be on everyone’s list, but seriously, it’s on mine. The lunchbox and food-packing situation is terrible when you eat like I do. I have no less than five containers each day. And the food I eat is best prepared on the spot, but I make it a couple of days in advance to save on time, and it’s just never quite as wonderful. (Which reminds me, I should do a “What I Ate Wednesday” soon.)
- Idea generator. You get to be your own creative director and come up with all your own ideas, with the ability to pursue your passions and focus only on what interests you.
Cons of working for yourself
- Make your own schedule. There’s a chance nobody is expecting you to be anywhere, and sometimes that’s a sad feeling. I remember waking up on Monday mornings when I didn’t have to teach a class until the afternoon realizing I had a bunch of writing work for myself to do, but didn’t have to get out the door, so it would sometimes be hard to get motivated to do it. It’s easy to get motivated when you arrive at an office on Monday morning, away from your home and into your work. Real easy.
- If you don’t work, you don’t make any money. When your business depends on you, you always have to be on. Nobody is going to jump in and do it for you.
- Vacations are not paid. Even though you may have the flexibility to go where you want, there’s a good chance you aren’t getting a regular salary to be off the grid, unless you’ve set up some awesome passive-income streams (and if so, props to you!).
- No benefits. You have to get them on your own. And that’s pricey.
- Ability to make only as much money as you work for. If you don’t do a good job with a project, you probably won’t work with that client again. You constantly have to find new business, sell yourself and put in the work.
- Idea generator. You have to be your own creative juice and creative director and sometimes your inspiration dries up. Sometimes you just want someone to tell you what to do.
- Lack of community. While the blogging community is an interactive one, and in other industries there are co-working spaces you may be able to go to in your own city to collaborate, you have to really make an effort to find a group of peers when you work for yourself. You’re a lone wolf out there otherwise.
Pros of working for a company
- Regular paycheck. A large bi-weekly paycheck (with taxes already taken out) that comes no matter what is an awesome thing.
- Benefits. Paid time off. Benefits. Paid time off. Benefits. (Unless you’re lucky enough to be married, like me, so your husband’s company provides.)
- Community. Although offices have their ups and downs, you’ll likely make some casual friendships at the water cooler, that you’re not likely to have working on your own or from home. That sense of belonging is actually a pretty big deal. And if you have a work spouse, well then you’re golden.
- Working on things bigger than yourself. You get the opportunity to learn from others and try things you may not try on your own.
- Resources. Oftentimes working for a company gives you bigger resources for projects and you get to pool your efforts to try large-scale initiatives. (And you say words like “initiatives” when you work in an office too, as well as other slightly annoying corporate made-up terms like “level up” and “circle back.”)
Cons of working for a company
- Flexibility. You’re bound to your job and office hours and you have to fit your fitness and life in early mornings, late nights and weekends. And sometimes you probably get the Sunday blues. And when you have to sneak your workouts in early mornings or late evenings, your leisure time is minimal Monday through Friday.
- Limited vacation. I’m guessing your company doesn’t give you as many paid days as you want to take off, so you have to use your time wisely. And if you have family that lives across the country like I do, well it’s tough.
- Having a boss. Depending on your personality, it may be tough for you to have someone telling you what to do all the time. But then again, if you have a good boss, it can be awesome.
- Pay is pay. While a regular paycheck is good, unless you have a commission or bonus-based job – no matter how hard you work, your paycheck stays the same.
- Time. If you work a full-time job, you have to make choices and sacrifices. I work out significantly less now, teach only a couple of classes and write A Lady Goes a fraction of the time (and yes, I miss checking in each day with you all! I really do!). My days are super-scheduled and full, and it’s not always easy to live that way without very much free time to do things like take my car for it’s check-up or try out a mid-day workout class.
Overall, right now the choices that I’m making in my job are right for me, but it’s definitely not a walk in the park — especially because I had lived a different kind of work-life for several years doing my own thing and working in fitness.
I could talk about this topic forever, and based on the questions I get, I know this is something on your minds. When people write to me and say they aren’t happy with their full-time job and want to do something else, I usually tell them to pursue their passion as a side hobby while keeping their full-time gig, so a small amount of income is being generated by the new “project.” While you’re doing that, save up some money and make a business plan before going at it full time. It’s not going to be easy. And it’s not always going to be Instagram-worthy, but it may be worth it one day.
Tips for you for where you are right now
- Write down what you love. Is there a way to make money from it? Is there an idea you want to turn into a business? Research it thoroughly and see if it’s worth pursuing. Could it just be a side hobby and give you enough fulfillment that you’ll be fine keeping your current job?
- Meet with other people who are in the industry you want to be in and pick their brain. Make connections and ask real questions about what you should know.
- Make the most of your current job. We can’t always spend our lives wishing for the next big thing, I bet there’s a chance you have a lot to appreciate about the situation you’re in right now.
- Take a class. Do you have time for some side-education? Either weekend fitness trainings, cooking classes or photography classes. Try to get inspired by things outside of your daily job and see if that fills you up.
- Volunteer or join a group. Do you need to meet new people and get your mind off your daily work? Try finding a nonprofit that needs help or a charitable organization where you can use your talents and gain perspective.
I get a lot of reader questions on this kind of topic and plan to address it more in future posts. If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below, and I will try to address them soon. But for now, BRB, gotta head to work. 🙂Real talk: working for yourself vs. someone else. What you should consider ... #blogging #freelance… Click To Tweet
Questions of the day
Are you currently working in a job that’s related to your passion?
What questions do you have for me about this post?