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It finally happened. I’d overextended myself in my career and subsequently felt as if my entire life were crumbling down around me. Friendships were suffering because I couldn’t spend quality time with anyone. My partner Peach (who lived with me) barely got more than a 30-minute window of time each day. And I was rapidly gaining weight from failing to exercise and feeling too worn out to do anything other than order comfort-food take out.
When I say that I overextended, it looked a little something like this:
- Working a full-time job
- Writing a book for a major publisher
- Continuing to run this blog
- Freelancing to bring in additional income
It felt as if I was actually doing four full-time jobs. I went to sleep around 3 am each night to wake up at 8 am, then I’d head to work and repeat the cycle. I walked around in a sleep-deprived state, unable to offer my best to anyone or anything.
Then, one night while falling asleep to the TV, per my usual routine, a sage piece of wisdom floated into my ear:
“Never half ass two things. Whole ass one thing.” – Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation
It seems silly, I know, but that line jolted me awake. It felt as though Ron Swanson himself were providing me with some divine intervention. Granted, he was offering the advice to Leslie Knope as she attempted to run a campaign for city council and do her full-time job in tandem—not unlike my current situation (minus all the government work).
The next morning I changed the background on my laptop to a gag motivational poster with Ron Swanson’s line. Obviously, that didn’t magically change my life. But then I began the more difficult task of self-reflection and comparing my current jobs to where I wanted to be in the next year, five years, 10 years. I couldn’t “whole-ass” four things and I needed to focus on the projects and jobs that would actually serve my long-term goals the best.
My full-time job was in the same sphere as my personal projects. I wrote content and handled the blog for a fintech startup. Writing under my own name for both Broke Millennial and the startup made things a little confusing in the press as well. I wanted to be known as “Broke Millennial,” which meant it was time for me to move on from working full-time for an employer and take the leap to self-employment.
Self-employment would give me the flexibility to focus on my book launch as well as continue to build the Broke Millennial brand. The longer I waited, the easier it would be for me to continue making excuses as to why now wasn’t the right time. I wanted to take the risk and try building a brand and business for myself now, when I didn’t have student loans, or a mortgage, or kids. I just needed to take care of myself and Mosby (my dog). Self-employment would give me the flexibility to focus on my book launch as well as continue to build the Broke Millennial brand. I’d get to spent more time with Peach and the people I love. Most importantly, it would allowed me to look back without regret—I could be proud of taking the leap.
With Ron Swanson’s voice ringing in my ear, I walked into my office and gave notice in August of 2016. I stayed full-time in the office for two more weeks and then worked part-time remotely while the company found my replacement. Since November of 2016, I’ve been on my own and it was the best decision I could’ve made.
The book launch could not have been better (a full feature in Cosmopolitan Magazine, interviews on scores of podcasts, TV interviews, Facebook Live events with MONEY and Reuters, and enough pre-orders to have my publisher do another printing of books before it even hit shelves). I’ve been able to replace my old income with self-employment opportunities (primarily freelance writing and speaking at colleges and conferences). Most importantly, I’m happy, with no regrets. Some days and weeks are still exhausting, stressful and feel as if I’ve overextended myself, but I’m in charge of the design of my own life now.
It feels pretty great to be “whole ass-ing one thing.”
What’s your favorite career advice?
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Image from BuzzFeed article.