My whole life, I’ve had a dream job. First, it was to be Julia Roberts. I failed as an actress, but succeeded in developing a huge smile. Next, it was to be a lawyer. I shadowed a prosecutor for a day and learned that I didn’t want to wear suits for a living. After that it was fashion designer. But apparently you can’t only draw stick figures and be Diane Von Furstenberg.
At 16, I decided I wanted to be a sports writer. This was my longest-lasting dream. It seemed to fit. I loved to write, and I spent my weekends watching Lakers games with my parents. I shadowed local writers and broadcasters, wrote for my school newspaper and saved every “Sports Illustrated” that came to my house. When my parents moved to their new house, they found boxes of old issues that I’d kept.
At 21, I realized I didn’t want to be a sportswriter. I suddenly felt like a pretender. I didn’t know the basic rules of football, couldn’t follow a baseball game and hated golf. I spent every game I covered counting down the minutes (which is really easy to do with a scoreboard in front of you).
At 22, I realized I didn’t want to be a reporter at all. I knew it when I would tell people I had gotten a job at a local paper after months of job searching . You know you’re dreading something when everyone else is more excited than you.
At 24, I started a new career, working in PR and marketing for a non-profit. I loved my new job. I had freedom, flexible hours and an incredible boss. I loved helping people with my work and learning new skills at the same time.
But on the ride back from the interview for my current job, I remember having a small panic attack. “If I take this job, what’s the end goal? Doing PR for a bigger nonprofit? Becoming a marketing consultant?” I’ve always had an end goal. With sportswriting, it was ESPN. With acting, it was an Oscar. But now, I didn’t know what to shoot for.
I wanted to keep writing and tracking my debt payoff, so I started this blog. For a while, it was a fun hobby. But last September, after attending a personal finance blogger conference, I discovered that I could make a living doing what I love.
I started freelancing and learning about other ways to monetize. I took classes on becoming a speaker and found mentors making a living online.
All of this is to say: in September, I will be leaving my current job and becoming a full-time freelance writer. I’ve already lined up clients and built up a six-month emergency fund in case anything goes wrong.
I’ve always been a bit of a scaredy cat. I like to have things planned out. Deviating from my schedule makes me nervous. So why am I so excited about this new career?
People don’t follow their dreams because they like feeling uncomfortable. They follow their dreams because the excitement of it overshadows the anxiety. Preparing to start a brand new adventure makes me feel more alive, not full of dread. I’ve spoken to too many people who haven’t done the things they always thought about, like moving to a new city or leaving behind a career. The idea of not trying is worse than the possibility of failing.
When we’re kids, we’re taught to admire the adventurers, rebels and explorers of the world. Even though they fail many times over, we’re taught that their persistence is what counts. But in real life, so many of us are judgmental about people who take risks. I think we’re secretly jealous that those people don’t let their fear overtake them.
Maybe some people think I’m crazy for leaving behind a stable job and life in a city I know for something different. But I’d rather try and fail then always wonder why.
Brian @DebtDiscipline says
Something you just have to take a chance. Best of luck Zina!
So true! All we can do is hope and prepare. Thanks Brian!
Congrats on the transition! I came here from Chenell’s blog and was pleasantly surprised by the topic – I’m in a transition as well. Not quite the freelancer/blogger deal, but going into small business. I ran into this essay that really sealed the deal on my decision: http://www.paulgraham.com/love.html. After reading your article, I think you’ll enjoy the read. It is about liking what you do and doing what you like. Anyway, I wish you the best in your journey!
Thanks for sharing that Clay! I think it makes a lot of good points. I grew up thinking you’d find a job you liked, but not loved. After a while I realized that the things they don’t tell you about – like flexible hours, vacation time, etc. – are the things that can make or break a job for you. It really made me think for a minute. Thanks again!
I know someone who prepared to be a teacher. Then she worked as a radio DJ for 10 years, while falling in love with web design. Said person has been working from home for the past 6 YEARS and has never been happier. She’s ready to embrace anything else life brings her and she’s telling you GOOD LUCK 🙂
You’ll do great. Passion and determination are huge things in life 😉
Thanks Ramona! The closer it gets, the more excited I am.
Hi! New reader and love the blog so far!
I have been freelancing from home for the past three years while also having two babies and have loved it! However, I am actually doing the opposite of you and am rejoining the work force in just a few weeks! I got offered a position I just can’t refuse. It’s still writing and editing, except it’s FT and in an office, though they are allowing me to telecommute twice per week. I love love love freelancing, but I was constantlyyyy chasing clients. I am so excited to have one main client (ie my job) with a salary, benefits, 401K, adult conversation, etc.
You really just have to do what’s right for you in the moment! I can tell you from experience though that freelancing has been some of the best years of my life!! You will do GREAT!!
Thanks Sarah! I’m glad you’ve discovered the blog. So far I’ve been building my business while I’ve been working at my day job so I’m excited to see what I can do with 40 hours a week. There are definitely some benefits I’ll miss. It’ll be weird taking a day off and not feeling pressured to work. Congrats on your new gig and good luck!
Congrats. I know it took a lot of work and sacrifice. Best success on the new career. I want to travel and speak. I’ve been in Toastmasters for seven years and developing a series of presentations. I start this fall.
Thanks Maryruth! Congrats on your own speaking career. It’s a hard job, but I’m so excited. Thanks for reading!
Emily K says
How exciting! Best of luck in your transition. I’ll have to follow along to see how it goes. Please do follow-up posts on the experience.