Happy 3 Year Anniversary...
3 years ago I left my corporate role, seems like a lifetime ago now but I can remember the events that led up to my leaving and how much those weeks changed my life. There were many catalysts to my giving up a solid career path and a 9-5 (well more like 8-8) but the most significant one was about a week before I left.
I came home at 7pm, literally at bedtime for my two children. My son was already asleep and my daughter should have been on her way. However, as I walked in the house- tired and stressed- I found my daughter sat on the stairs crying. I asked her why she was so upset: "why don't you love us enough to be at home mummy?"
That right there nearly ruined me. I worked because I thought my children needed things, although I also worked because I enjoyed it. It turns out that all those hours and all that money are pointless if your children don't think you love them.
The funny thing is, I'm a perfectionist, I was focussing so hard on earning money, being good at my job, remembering all the birthdays, making sure the cupboards were never empty and that we never ran out of toilet rolls that I forgot to focus on my actual life.
My daughter's words haunted me until the day I walked out of my job- one of the bravest and most stupid things I ever done. I honestly rarely surprise myself- I'm usually so utterly predictable but this was out of character and really showed how far I had been pushed. It's a long story and not really one for public consumption but needless to say, in a most uncharacteristic and melodramatic fashion I made my exit from my corporate career and I've never looked back since.
I could tell you that from that moment on it was all sunshine and roses but that's not real life. For two weeks’ I think I either cried or slept: my brain needed to adjust, I'd never not worked and it was a shock to my system. I was scared: of the mortgage; of my family's expectations; and of what people would think of me.
Then two things happened in a day that made me realise what my next step needed to be. The first was- oddly- my Dyson repair man (I say mine, he's obviously freely available to the public). I sent a Facebook message following an advert I had seen (I kind of figured I should do something useful seeing as I was now sat around doing nothing), Lee called me an hour later and I answered the phone the way I always do, and always have, with my name: "Danielle Thompson". Lee and I had a chat and arranged and appointment but before he hung up he wanted to talk about something else. Apparently, I had a lovely telephone manner and he was looking for someone to do appointment booking for him and he had a good feeling about me...
It was surreal, it was like being given a business opportunity without trying. I don't believe in signs though so whilst I thought about it, I didn't think too hard.
3 hours later I went to the hairdresser. I love my hairdresser, she feeds me wine and doesn't chat too much, plus she’s the best hairdresser in the world. I sat in the chair and told her all about the Dyson man and what he had said, the safety of the hairdressers’ code (that's a thing right?) meant that I felt comfortable waxing lyrical about the sort of business I would build. I must have done a good job because she invited me in for a meeting with her and her business partner to talk about how I could help them...
One sign I can ignore, two is a little harder to discount. I sat there and drafted a business plan, a statement, an intention and it was that one day that formed everything that I work for now. I built Spinning Plates to help other people balance their lives so they never feel the way I did three years ago and I love doing that for people, it makes me happy.
On top of that I can do the school run, chaperone school trips (okay, it was once but they made me wear a hi vis vest so you can understand why I've not been back), take days off when I need to... it’s a totally different life to the one I was leading and the one I would have been leading by now.
I'm happier, my family are happier... although my daughter did look up the other day and say "mummy you're always here, you can go to work like daddy you know".
There's no pleasing some people.