7 Things that led me to go freelance

After a six month trip around the world in 2012 with my best friend,  I knew my next role had to encompass what I had just learnt - and going back to a 9 till 5 job working for someone else, just wasn't for me. The next step took balls, following my gut and intuition I took a plane ticket back to the other side of the world and began from scratch, jobless.

Doing the above, led me to my freelancing career. They helped me create and test a successful career-change process that’s at the heart of how I now work with my clients.

There’s a balance of heart and head in this process and a good measure of gut feel. Here’s what I did to switch trajectories.

1. I got clear

I listed what most mattered to me at work. My must-haves included designing, what I was passionate about. In addition to this, working in-depth with a small number of people who are easy to work around and have a laugh with appeared. I love branding, I knew to cross over to the digital side while the print world was being taken over with the digital boom occurring and I wanted to continually learn new things and be challenged. These things matched my personality type; - ENFJs, and (amongst other things) lead me to meeting the perfect clients.

2. I captured what I care about

For a month, I really listened to what made me happy and captivated me and I mapped my soapbox issues too. These were the big ideas that drew me into conversations in cafes and on social media, and my over flowing book collection. At the end, I had a list of five broad areas to explore.

3. I went from “what” to “why”

I asked myself, “why this and not that?” Analysing my list revealed my five hottest interest areas – fashion, fitness, travel, food and music. I needed a career that matched my must-haves and satisfied my insatiable curiosity about what makes us tick.

4. I got out there

I needed to explore my options for a freelance career and the clients in my key interest areas. I knew this meant emerging from the virtual rabbit hole I’d dug by “asking Google”. So I shelved my fear of looking foolish and got out there! I drank coffee with all kinds of open, generous and supportive people. They led me to brilliant personal insights. I gained broad, current knowledge on sectors, organisations and roles. I made new contacts, grew my networks and landed myself some great opportunities.

5. I trusted my gut feel and intuition

I kept listening to how I felt about things. Some conversations left me lost, while others made me buzz with energy. Based on gut reaction, I reflected on what did or didn’t resonate with me. What made me want to run a mile from one client or design agency, or run home to hunt my next contact with another?

6. I found a cheerleader

Getting emotional support early made a world of difference.  I chose a good friend who is also a really positive upbeat person. We don’t live in the same city but we talked every few weeks. We celebrated wins of all sizes and she encouraged me to keep going when I got confused and frustrated.

7. I found a mentor

I spent a lot of my early career change journey feeling totally at sea with my head awash with ideas. My mentor had been there and done it, so kindly helped me to figure things out. She helped me structure the process and work out what came next. She was a great sounding board and an expert guide during my many ups and downs.

So that’s how I got to be here – by being clear, curious and connected. Like most people, my career change proceeded in fits of stops and starts. There were loads of highs and some pretty confronting lows. I’ve learned lots about what makes me tick. Working through a clear career change process gave me lots of the insight and experience I now live my career by - designing the life I love, by combining all that makes me happy, with clients who share these same vision and values.

Sally XO