One of the most common reasons people cite for applying for a job is wanting a new challenge. This makes it even stranger that a job ad that caught my eye recently did so precisely because it wouldn’t be a challenge.
One of my first jobs after university was opening and managing a library in a new secondary school. I loved it. It was exactly what I needed at that time in my life. It gave me the freedom to explore what I enjoyed, and enough independence to get on with the job on my own terms. After six months I still loved it, but I wasn’t challenged by it. I’d gone through the major task of setting up the place as a flourishing resource centre and was now managing the day to day. A chat with a colleague saw me applying for an internal role in teaching (which I got and immediately regretted), and later on leaving the education sector altogether in favour of something that was more ‘me’.
Along came freelancing, the one career move that seems to have stuck. I still love what I do, I’m still challenged by it enough to make it enjoyable and continuously fresh, but not so much that it becomes stressful. So why do I have a wandering eye? Is looking at job ads when you work for yourself a bit like checking Tinder in a relationship?
The job ad is for another school librarian role. And for a moment that lasted a bit too long, I considered applying for it. It’s walking distance from my house, it’s school hours that will work well for doing my own school run, I’d get the holidays off and a consistent income. And I know I’d enjoy it. There’s a lot in the pros column right now, but I’m talking myself out of it.
I think given the state of the year so far, it’s entirely natural to have gravitated towards something so comfortable. An aspect of life I can basically sail through would offer untold mental benefits, I’m sure. But I’d be turning my back on everything I’ve achieved.
Trading in the skills and experience I’ve built over the last decade would go against everything my business stands for. I help women avoid the trap of giving up their careers after having kids in favour of a job that fits their life, and help them run their own business to use their skills instead. One of my clients has built a whole recruitment model around helping women do this.
We don’t need to apply for jobs that send us back to a comfort zone, we need to find the comfort zone in where we’re heading. Career progression, whether employed or through our own business, is about looking forwards. I’ve spent the last few months working with brilliant career coach, Claire Brown, to take a deep dive into my business and see where I could take it. I’m on the cusp of some decisions now which could really change what I’m doing and how much risk I apply. It’s not comfortable, but it is necessary to move forwards.
It’s the same for the people I work with. Investing in my copywriting services is a scary move for them, I get it. It’s sometimes the first time they’ve invested in a service for their business. But it’s about moving forwards. The first step feels weird, but take a few more and you fall into a rhythm. Once you’ve got a new rhythm, you’ve got a new challenge you’ve mastered, and you’ll see the benefits.
So I’m stepping away from that job ad (oh, but the paid holidays!). I’m definitely, definitely stepping away… No, I am really. I’m sure I’d love it and be good at it, but six months on I’d crave something else, and that’s something that hasn’t happened in freelancing. It’s my one job I haven’t ever wanted to move on from, and I’m committed to it for as far into the future as I can see.
Freelancing has its challenges, and a pandemic adds a few more, but the rewards? Off. The. Scale.
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