Why I Am Glad I Took a Step Back in My Career

To end up 10 steps ahead in just two short years.

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You know that old adage, sometimes you have to take a step back to take two steps forward?

It’s. So. Freaking. True!

Two years ago I felt trapped in a job I despised. I worked 12 hour days, 6 days a week to keep up with a heavy workload under the false pretense that I would be able to hire a team member soon to balance the workload.

Never being one to give up or to believe I can’t influence an outcome, I took a full weekend off and bright eyed and bushy tailed on a Monday morning pitched my boss on why I needed help, exactly what help that would be, and provided him with a job description for the role and asked what additional information he needed from me to approve the hire.

His response? Wait…. For…. It…..

“I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t even know what you spend your time on…”

I was aghast. I literally did everything. He wanted a report on 2 seconds notice, I dropped everything and ran it (manually – we didn’t have a reporting system).

When he decided we needed to build a manual, tedious excel-based pipeline on which to track sales opportunities. I built it. And for a year I gave up every Sunday to manually create the report so that it would be up-to-date for Monday’s staff meeting.

Insurance. Financial analysis. Budgeting. Invoice reconciliation. Staff meeting prep. Compliance. Marketing. Day-to-day management of our team of 20.  Quality Assurance. Human Resources. Shareholder distributions.

And, that was the moment where I realized I was laboring under false pretenses. There was never going to be another resource. He was maximizing his investment. And, in that moment, I knew I could have pushed to get help, but I thought, “why?”

Why would I want to keep working here? Why would I want to spin my wheels, toiling 72 hours a week for a good (but not ridiculous) salary? If I’m going to work like this, shouldn’t I be getting the upside?

It took awhile to figure out HOW I was going to do it. 

I eventually found my way to Upwork and in my first week I had 4 clients who paid me ~$500 for PowerPoint presentations, graphic design and even setting up a Shopify store. Ultimately, I realized that I was most efficient and getting the highest return on presentation design projects and niched down.

I make almost twice freelancing as I did in my traditional role, but I work half as much and with the most incredible, grateful clients. Clients who send me pictures from their presentations and say thank you!

Every morning when I wake up eager to start the day, I am grateful I trusted my instincts and found a way forward. Grateful that I took that step back to take two steps forward.

And, on days when I decide I need to take a nap (only like every few months!) I have NO doubt that I followed the right path.

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