From Corporate to Freedom:
I am thrilled to be bringing you this brand new interview series with incredible stories from real people who quit their corporate careers to earn a living doing what they absolutely love! We’ll be chatting all about what it took for them to finally take the leap to build a life they're obsessed with. A life fueled by passion, purpose, freedom, and adventure!
This beautiful soul, Kate, wasn't actually in corporate, she was a teacher. And the reason I'm having her kick off this series is because she has a powerful story - one that you NEED to hear if you're struggling in your career - corporate or not.
I'm so excited to be sharing your brave story of how you left your financially secure career to start your own business!! At what point did you know it was time to make a career change, and how were you feeling in your career at the time?
I began my teaching career in 2003. I loved what I did for a long time! I’d say up until about the last three years.
Last summer (like the past couple summers before that) I had to mentally get myself in a place where I was ready to go back. It wasn’t ever the kids I didn’t want to go back to, it was the all the joy sucking meetings, negative colleagues, underhanded and undermined behavior of adults, and administrators putting band-aids on issues that were the equivalent of compound fractures! But I did it! I got my brain ready, read lots of great motivational quotes and books to make me better at my job.
We left for the long weekend leading up to the first day of school the following Monday. I made an appointment to meet with my principal later the first week of school to discuss an idea I had. Well unbeknownst to me, one of my colleagues went to him after the meeting the week before and basically passed my idea off as her own. Punch to the gut.
I started to cry. I wasn’t crying because I was sad. I was tired. Tired of fighting to survive in a field with people who would do that to someone they’re supposed to share ideas with.
At what point is enough, enough? I knew at that moment, on the fourth day of school, I was done.
So I went home and talked for a long time with my husband. While scared out of his mind as he is NOT a spontaneous soul, he agreed. It was time. Time for me to make a change. I called my principal on Friday, September 1st, and told him that September 15 would be my last day.
I. FELT. FREE.
Like the weight of a thousand pounds was lifted off my shoulders!
AMAZING! So did you know what you wanted to do/what business you wanted to start? How did you figure that out?
This part didn’t come right away. I KNEW that I didn’t want to work in the business world. To start over teaching for a new district this far into my career didn’t seem appealing. So I painted! Not canvas painting….house painting! My mom has been a painter for 25 years and has her own business. So I put on my paint clothes and I learned her trade. I also quickly learned it was not for me. While there was something AMAZING about going to a quiet house or building and taking ugly painted walls and turning them beautiful, I HAD to be working with kids. I needed to be teaching. It is the very fiber of who I am. I am a teacher! But the tough part was figuring out how.
I applied for a training job with our state government. The process was long and drawn out (which I am NOT cut out for - I was a nervous wreck with all the waiting) I was in the top three for two jobs. After more waiting...you can guess how it turned out. I was the third of the three. They loved the idea of a teacher being a trainer but there were other qualifications I couldn’t compete with that the other candidates had.
I found this out on a Wednesday in February. Thursday and Friday were awful. Failure. I felt like a failure. I beat myself up about even leaving teaching in the first place. We were more poor than we’ve ever been. I didn’t get the only job I actually interviewed for - mind you I got my teaching job immediately out of college - so interviewing and being turned down isn’t something I have had experience with! My husband had been out of town while all this happened. He returned on Saturday and after spending some time with our boys I hit him with the idea that came to me earlier that day!
So, after kids were in bed I told him I knew what I needed to do. What I wanted to do. What would make me feel complete. I had to teach again. BUT not in a school. I wanted to open my own tutoring and enrichment center to help struggling students build skills and confidence and offer summer programming for kids on or above grade level.
He just sat there. The minutes felt like hours. He finally said “I think it’s a great idea. It is definitely something this town needs and you have one of the best reputations as a teacher in the community. You, of all people, can do it!”
One of my favorite things is when my clients finally figure out what business they're going to start! Sometimes that's the hardest part! So I'd love to hear about your journey of transitioning out of your day job and into your own business - what was that like?
The next week I started planning. I just jumped in feet first and didn’t look back. I was painting during the day when my mom needed me and planning my business and programming when I wasn’t watching basketball games! I applied for my business LLC through the state, did the fun stuff like designing my business cards, created a website, Facebook page, etc. But at that point it was still all so exciting and under the radar. Only my family and closest friends knew of my plan.
We live in a small community, our population is just over 5,000 people. Everybody talks to everybody. And everybody was going to know about this and would have an opinion. It was at that point I started to feel nervous. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so quick to decide this.
What if nobody wanted the service for their kids?! I didn’t want to fail. I had already dealt with feeling a bit like a failure the fall before, though in my logical mind I know I’m far from it. So, I did what I do best. I rallied my troops. I put a post on my personal FB with a link to my new business page. There is got the validation and the tiny push I needed to announce it to the community. So I did the same on a few community FB pages and the support was UNREAL!
My business officially opened on April 9th and within 7 weeks, I was fully booked.
Total proof that when you combine what you absolutely LOVE doing with what you're naturally gifted at, success is inevitable. What was your biggest struggle in making the change?
Money. Money. Money. It always comes down to money. As a two teacher family we made a decent income. Definitely more than a lot of people in our blue collar town. However, we have a ridiculous amount of student loans from my undergrad and Master’s program. We pay a small mortgage in student loans every month in addition to normal living expenses with a family of four.
What has changed is the things that we had been taking for granted. Meals out, things because we wanted them...not needed them, we had to shift our spending habits. Our kids struggled a bit at first. They were used to having more.
I grew up in a home where both of my parents worked and we barely made it paycheck to paycheck. They didn’t want that for me so college was a nonnegotiable. But when you have more money….you spend more money! We were ultimately the same family we were when we were both employed by the school district. We just had to adjust to a smaller pool of money to work with in the beginning, but we had a much happier home overall.
It was funny one night my youngest who is 11 said “I love our family. Now we are more thankful when we get to go out to dinner or do things that cost money. And mom is a lot happier teaching kids at home.”
It reaffirmed the decision a million times over. My unhappiness was absolutely spilling over to my home life. No matter how hard I tried to compartmentalize things.
It's amazing how much our unhappiness at work spills over into our relationships at home, with our kids, and into our personal lives. Often without even realizing it's happening. So how did you overcome fear when it arose?
Oh. I still have days where fear creeps in. I had it today actually!
So what I do is I think of the worst days at my previous job and think are they comparable? The answer is always no. Am I more present for my family and happier to be around? Yes.
On the harder days, I have to dig deeper in my little self-care toolbox. I have mantras I repeat, I meditate, go for a walk by the river in our town, I get out in nature. It’s grounding. It’s calming and has a way of helping me get back to where I need to be!
I remember why I did what I did. Why I decided that one September day that I was done. I could not, and would not, continue to allow myself to be hurt. We are only on this earth for so long! I didn’t want to miss one more minute of happiness because of working in a place that wasn’t fulfilling my emotional needs and was actually causing me a great deal of anxiety, stress and sadness.
Life is just too short and too precious to spend our lives trapped in the wrong career! Kate, is there anything else you would like to share that you feel would benefit others who are staying in careers they don't love?
When I went to school the Tuesday after I handed in my resignation, I walked in with a smile on my face. I knew that I had put ME first! We are so trained to put everyone else’s needs before our own. We think about family and as a teacher I would always think about the kids. But for the first time, in a VERY long time, I thought about ME!
I worried greatly about how my kids would react to this. They’ve only known me as a teacher, on their exact schedule. Summers off. Christmas break off. Spring break off. Out of school and at every event.
When making the decision to change jobs, I read a great article that talked about how, as parents and married couples, we are trained to put our kids first. All the time! We feel guilty for missing things or being absent from an event. But it is OKAY!
If we explain why and they see all the the other amazing benefits of the job change, it’s okay! My kids understand. We also have to be a little selfish during the child rearing years. Whether it be taking time for date nights, exercise or yoga class, etc. (I filled in the etc with “change my career at 40!”). I don’t feel that I’m neglecting my kids or harming them for life.
What I am doing is showing them that I hope they find passion and love in what they do.
In closing, I just want to say also that nothing was more powerful than the day I quit my job. I dropped a lot of hammers that day as I told people my news. The one thing I kept hearing over and over and over was “I’m so happy for you but I’m also so jealous.”
Jealous?! Jealous of the crazy lady who just up and quit her $70,000 a year job?! But as I thought about it, I was sad. I had no idea there were that many unhappy people working in a place that is there to nurture and teach kids.
Sadly there was a core group of adults who had been allowed to make it such an unhappy building to work in. I guarantee this is in so many workplaces and industries across the world! I am now able to thank the women who were, in part, responsible for my quick decision to quit. I feel AMAZING! I have thanked them a million times in my head for being so hurtful and rude!
They pushed me to do what I may not have otherwise had the courage to do. They showed me I could put myself first and be the creator of my own happiness.
My advice to anyone considering a career change is to do it! Make the leap! Things will work out! But most important take one word out of your vocabulary: should. Take it out and don’t allow what you “should” or “shouldn’t” do to impede your happiness! You WILL love yourself enough to be happy!
WOW! See this goes to show, we all start somewhere and finding your way through your own journey is exciting and scary at the same time.
Remember, you always have a choice… remain where you're safe and comfortable....
or take the leap! Choose YOU. Choose LIFE. That's what I did and I'll never look back..
If you're thinking about taking the leap, grab my FREE workbook, 5 Steps to Your Dream Career, below! It walks you through each step to figure out what your dream career is, and how to transition into it.
So much love and light,
5 Steps to Your Dream Career
“This beautiful tool will get you out of your meaningless job and into a career you absolutely love.”
Erica Carrico is an International Life Purpose Coach, world traveler, adventure seeker, free spirit, and mommy of 2.
Through coaching services, speaking, and writing, Erica helps holistic & spiritual professionals who are frustrated and stuck in the wrong career, discover their life purpose and start a soul-aligned business so they can finally earn a living doing what they absolutely love. What they were put on earth to do.
Erica has a BS in Psychology, an MS in Nonprofit Management, life and career coaching certifications, 12+ years experience in business leadership and international recruitment, built a fully-booked soul-aligned business within a year, has traveled through over 50 different countries, and is obsessed with helping thousands of people all around the world live lives full of passion, purpose, freedom, and adventure.
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