Three years ago this May I quit my day job.
Some of you called me crazy, but most of you were cheering me on. I was “crazy” I guess. I left a solid career at a solid advertising agency during a recession to chase a dream of working for myself. Why? Because I was tired of trying to fit their rigid, corporate structure – and all of the bull that comes with it – into my life as a single mother. Try explaining 9-5 to a two year old who needs you more than anything in the world. And try explaining to a typical boss that motherhood is more important than their bottom line.
There was also the memory of my first boss and mentor walking out of our radio newsroom with a pile of boxes in his hands after he had been fired (for no good reason at all).
“Remember,” he said, “this is what they do to you after 16 years.” Watching him being forced to leave something he loved because he didn’t follow their rules was the most valuable lesson he every taught me.
There was also writing on the wall at my ad agency. They were trying to “accommodate” all of this “digital stuff.” Clearly they were missing the boat entirely and I was on their boat. It was the perfect time for me to break out on my own and seize an opportunity to offer my own clients what they clearly could not. Cement Marketing is the result. I work just as hard, but on my own schedule.
Even though I had a) motivation and b) a goal and a plan – it was still the most frightening thing I’d ever done (next to leaving my ex husband with a four month old). Funny how “leaving” things or “quitting” things that aren’t good for you can feel so right, isn’t it?
So many of you have asked me over the years to write about starting your own business as a single mom. I didn’t even know where to start… it would require another blog entirely. So, I turned to Jennifer Foss, aka Job Jenny. We met when we were both new single mom bloggers. Today, her website is bursting with resources and she’ll even help you re-design your resume and advise you on what career path you should choose.
I asked her to write about finding a new job in the new year…Limits Shmimits: On how I turned a potential disaster into a fresh career (and life) start.
By Jenny Foss
About eight years ago, I was enticed. Not by a man, mind you. Nope, I was enticed to make a fairly dramatic career shift from corporate communications director to (drum roll…) recruiter.
That’s right. In late 2004, after many months of unrest and unfulfillment in a safe, well-paying corporate management role, I ditched to go learn how to be a headhunter, effectively cutting my base salary by about 2/3rds.
Yes, many questioned my sanity. Of course they did.
But I found it exhilarating. And frankly? Not very dangerous. At that time, I was a single working professional. No kids, not a lot of gun-to-your-head financial responsibility. What could possibly go wrong, right?
The answer to that smacked me in the head in the spring of 2005. Just as I began to get traction in my new (and demanding) profession, I found out that I was (quite unexpectedly) expecting. My long-term partner was stunned as well, to say the least.
I’ll spare everyone the agony of how the next several months unfolded, but the net result was my becoming a single mom in late 2005.
Here’s where the potential disaster comes in.
While I loved the field of recruiting, it was admittedly grueling keeping up with the demands of a recruiting agency, learning to be a mom AND performing to a level that kept a baby happy and commission checks rolling in the door.
Simply put, it sucked.
I’d come home from work in tears because I felt like I was doing everything half-assed, and getting nowhere in the process. I wanted to excel at both parenting and in my career, and I was floundering at both.
And this is when I realized I had but once choice: Reinvent, again.
This time, the reinvention didn’t involve a change in my chosen field, but it certainly was a big gamble: I decided to launch my own recruiting agency. Right there in the middle of my financial strain, emotional upheaval and uncertainly over how the hell to be a mom, I decided to launch a business.
- I knew I’d lose my mind trying to be a great parent while keeping up with the demands of 9-5 employment.
- I was hell-bent on earning an income that didn’t just keep our family afloat, but allowed us to THRIVE.
- I wanted my daughter to be proud of her mom.
- I’d just weathered an incredibly difficult life event, and needed to prove to myself I could do something amazing.
And so in late 2005, I announced my resignation from the “day job,” took out a loan that would keep us going for a few months, and I launched Ladder Recruiting Group, LLC.
And then I ran like hell. After three terrifying months, I closed my first deal, and never looked back.
In the five years that have followed:
- I’ve met and married the most wonderful (and unlikely – he lived 2,800 miles away when I met him) man. (This, btw, I have Ms. Single Mama to thank for, but that’s an ENTIRELY different tale for another day);
- I’ve launched a career coaching and resume writing business/blog (which you’ll find over at JobJenny.com); and
- I’ve become really damned good at being both a mom and an entrepreneur (Most of the time. I screw it all up some days, I do.)
And so the moral of this story? I have four:
- Don’t let life’s curveballs scare you into believing you can’t do big, daring things.
- Show yourself, show your children, show the world what you’re made of.
- Even small victories can give you momentum and audacity to pull off bigger wins. And,
- Costco chicken pot pie and a bagged Caesar salad totally counts as a home-cooked dinner.
Go big in 2012, single mamas. You’ve got everything it takes to make this your year.
Jenny Foss operates an independent recruiting firm, Ladder Recruiting Group, and is creator of the blog JobJenny.com. Your job search BFF and tough love expert on finding career passion, Jenny is also the author of To Whom It May Concern: Or, How to Stop Sucking at Your Job Search. You may Jenny on Twitter @JobJenny.