4 Lessons I Learned From Starting Over Professionally
I started my year of not knowing in May 2016. I was at a job I knew I wanted to leave for a while and, in fact, didn't realize how unchallenged I was until I left. Here's a tip — if you're eating more times a day than is necessary, have minimal desire to leave the house in the morning, and read about obscure Flemish designers on Vogue.com to pass the time, you probably don't like your job.
So, I found myself for the first time in my professional life not working — and I had never not worked. I knew it was time to start over from scratch which required lots of soul searching, meditating, and an amount of courage I have to summon hourly. My year is not over yet, but I've been getting so many questions about what I've learned in this extraordinary time-in-the-making, I put pen to paper and wrote it all down.
Lesson 1: Do Your Research and Don't Be Afraid to Reach Out
I made it my mission to find out everything that was happening in the digital entertainment industry. I felt like if I had a solid grasp on the landscape then I would know everything happening in my business and be able to make decisions. So, I called and emailed everyone. I LinkedIn messaged everyone. I never asked for a job; I just asked to have a meeting or a call and learn what was going on at their company. And guess what? When you're only asking to have a conversation with someone and learn (and you have a solid background to stand on) people are super nice! I had tons of meetings, excessively drank almond-milk lattes, and met a crazy number of people. I kept a spreadsheet tracking what everyone was doing and what they were looking for, so I would know where to take my various projects. I learned so much, it was awesome, and I quadrupled my network. Many people have asked me, "But how did you call people? You just called them?" Yes, I just called them. The worst they can do is say "no" or not answer your email. And guess what: they'll probably answer.
Lesson 2: Never Stop the Creative Cycle
I suppose this one is different in every industry, but I did not stop the creative cycle. I watched everything on the internet (since I'm in digital entertainment), and when I had no resources, I taught myself to shoot and edit a daily news show on Instagram. It was not glamorous (my poor host can attest to this), but it kept me busy, it kept my mind going, and it kept me being creative. Plus, it's a better use of time than sulking, which brings me to . . .
Lesson 3: Some Days Are Difficult (Like Really, Really Difficult)
Some days are really hard when you are in an extraordinary time of not knowing. Uncertainty is an inherently scary space. You have to rely on your resilience. You have to trust in the universe. You have to keep yourself from thinking you're a hack (you're not a hack!). Keep amazing friends and family around and they will remind you of how fantastic you are. Trust me, you've got this!
Lesson 4: Life Is an Adventure When You're Open to Everything
I find a lot of people seem stuck in a place where they don't know what they want to do and they don't know how to start. Just say "yes" and start. I started working again and creating work because I said "yes" to everything. Try it. And if you don't like it, don't do it again. But how will you know until you try? By saying "yes" enough times, you will find what makes your heart sing.
My year isn't over yet and I'm still navigating my path, but I'm so grateful for all the opportunities I've had, the people I've met, and the content I'm making that I'm overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement daily! Since I've embarked on my transformative year, every day is an adventure living out in the world. Life is fun. I'm doing what I love with awesome people. I would never have gotten here if I'd stayed where I was. What's more exciting than that? So say "yes" to everything, try everything, and take risks. And never forget to follow up on your invoices.