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The truth about post-cubicle life that nobody tells you

Guest post by Razwana Wahid

Leaving the security of your job is perhaps the scariest thing to do, when you’ve been a corporate bunny your whole life

I left my full-time gig 3 months ago, and the thing that hit me the most? Was the loneliness.

It wasn’t simply about working alone in my apartment …

It was the lack of conversation. The absence of chatter. The shortage of structure.

Every day was a new day that I could, in theory, fill with whatever I wanted. But the more the days progressed? The more I struggled with the solitary.

When we’re in the corporate world for years, we’re conditioned to follow a certain structure – to our days, to ‘meetings’, how we write emails, and even how many times a day we take a break.

So when we venture out on your own, we have the freedom to choose exactly how we want to work. From who we work with, where we work from, and who we see.

What first seems like a quest to build a business and a life of freedom, becomes a daily battle with insecurity, worry, challenge, and as I mentioned earlier, loneliness.

For me personally, the solitude was so great that there came a point where I thought I’m losing myself. I’ve not idea who I am (or what my voice sounds like).

Seeing a friend during the workweek was the best thing, and made me feel like I wasn’t simply living for the weekend. But these evenings weren’t the norm.

I could have taken to talking to myself (nobodies saying I didn’t) but where’s the fun in that?

Instead, I decided to figure out why I was feeling lonely, analyse what I missed about corporate life, and bring these things back into my life.

Here’s how I did it:

The things I loved about corporate life

Unsurprisingly, it was the people. The random conversations. The shall we go for a coffee? question that was casually asked and gratefully received.

I missed working in a team – facing a problem and figuring it out collectively. The business I had worked for put a huge emphasis on people, so it wasn’t surprising that they encouraged team work wherever possible.

The structure of the day was another thing I missed. Those meetings that seemed to eat up so much time? Turns out they were great for focusing my mind on getting tasks done within a limited timeframe.

So they were the things I missed: conversation, team work and structure.

I then decided to try a few different things to bring some of these back into my life.

Conversations

The first thing I did was asked friends if they knew anyone that worked from home. I then contacted these ‘referrals’ and suggested meeting to co-work in a café. Some worked out and some didn’t – but it was always worth a shot.

I also decided to explore other things I was interested in – namely photography and the art scene in Paris (where I live). So I’d take a couple of hours off to head to a gallery or museum in the middle of the week.

The time was mine to spend how I wanted – I didn’t need to be at my desk all day!

These two things combined brought more people into my life – and also meant I wasn’t constantly calling my friends to ‘catch up’ (a day after the last phone call).

Teamwork

I work alone in my business so finding professional collaborators wasn’t the goal here. It was simply to find people I could feel part of a group with.

Heading over to Facebook, I looked at the groups I was part of, and researched some new ones. The groups I chose were filled with people based in the same city as me.

In those groups, I asked if anyone would be interested in co-working with me.

It was that simple.

The result wasn’t a huge group of 20 people sat in a café in the middle of Paris, but acquaintances made that could be called upon when I decided to work away from home.

Next, I joined groups on Meetup.com that weren’t business related.

All the groups I joined were centred on photography, so the events organised meant I was learning to use my camera with people that had the same interest as me.

This was a new way to be part of a group – we weren’t solving a problem – but working towards the same goal of taking better photos.

Structure

This was by far the easiest thing to put in place, but the most difficult to stick to!

My week was structured around client calls and writing projects. So in my calendar, I scheduled time for:

  • Client calls – 3 afternoons a week
  • Working away from home – 2 afternoons per week
  • Writing projects and marketing – every morning

Since working away from home was in my diary, it had to be done. This forced me to leave my apartment. I used it as a reason to explore cafés with wifi in Paris (there aren’t many!).

Through this site, Lydia has shown repeatedly that it takes courage to leave the comfort a job brings. But the most courage? Comes from what you do with your life after you take the leap.

Tell me:  Have you had a similar experience to me after you left your job?  How did you handle it?

 

Razwana WahidRazwana Wahid is the founder of Relentless Movement. A copywriting service for service providers who want to write bold and sell big. Want to know how to sell your services online using the power of your words? Download the free digital guide here.