July 21, 2019

Comeback Corner: Choosing the Best Workplace for You

Workplace

In 2000, I had my first taste of working from home after the birth of my first son. Since I had worked in “cube farms” for several years until that time, I feared I would never have enough discipline to keep up with my workload while staying at home. In actuality, the opposite happened.

For those six months as a remote employee, I worked harder than I ever had before. I met all my deadlines and excelled because I was able to focus on the work itself, even with an infant at home. In the office, I found myself easily distracted by the incessant chatter and was tempted constantly by frequent coffee and gossip breaks. At home, I discovered I could work at any time of the day (usually when my son was sleeping), and it was so peaceful and quiet. I loved it and didn’t miss the workplace drama one bit. The other perks of working at home were just as awesome: the ability to spend time with my young family, flexibility, and fewer distractions. I wanted to keep working from home forever. And that’s why I ended up resigning from the job I once thoroughly enjoyed because I didn’t want to have to return to the daily office grind. I had no regrets about leaving it behind.

Returning to the workplace

All good things must come to an end, or so they say. The day I decided I had to return to the workforce came a couple of years after the birth of my younger son in 2002. In 2004, I accepted my first job offer after my baby hiatus. I told myself countless times that this was going to be a good thing. We needed the extra money, and our boys needed to spend time with other kids. Also, I needed to be around other adults. After only a few days in, though, I already knew that working in an office was never going to feel right to me—but I made the best of it. After a few trial-and-error attempts at working temporary jobs, I found a pretty good fit (or so I thought at the time) with a small company as their marketing research manager.

New and exciting opportunities

After a few years with the company, a new “thing” called social media marketing started taking off. I was thrilled when the company’s CEO tapped me for a role to head up a new inbound marketing group. This role would include building and maintaining their social accounts and using inbound marketing to generate new leads. I fell head over heels with my new responsibilities and spent hours each day learning to blog, attending webinars, and curating content, among other related activities. I wanted to learn everything I could to become the best social media marketer ever. In fact, I loved it so much that I neglected my role in marketing research. My boss and CEO didn’t forget, though. And so, the drama began.

Oh, the drama

I became annoyed and upset with my bosses because I felt I could never convince them that social media marketing was a full-time job (and we all know it is). At the same time, I discovered just how much money they would receive for any client I brought in—and I was beyond unhappy when finding out my cut would be significantly less. It seemed unfair to me, especially since the work I was doing was directly helping to generate leads and sales.

And so, I rebelled by seeking out social media-related side gigs. In truth, I couldn’t wait to leave that company and do my own thing. However, I didn’t want to leave my current job until I knew my new business venture was secure.

What held me back? Among other things, I had bills to pay and growing boys who needed plenty to eat. Knowing myself and my fear of change and risk, I suspect I would have waited forever to cut ties. But it didn’t take long for my employer to find out about my side gigs, which they decided were a conflict of interest (although, they really were not). So there I was, fired and without any steady income.

Starting over again

At the time, I felt completely wronged at the time and seriously disappointed. I had worked hard for that company for several years and never complained about the long hours or work environment. At the same time, I experienced a sense of relief, since, deep down, I had been craving the freedom and flexibility that I had sampled years before in my career. As it turned out, being fired so unceremoniously was the proverbial kick in the rear I needed to face my fears and jump headfirst into the waters of entrepreneurship. And so I did—with no regrets.

In February of this year, I celebrated my six-year anniversary of being a solopreneur. I have met many fantastic people and learned much about business and life in these past few years. For me, there was so much to gain: flexibility, of course, but also a good deal of knowledge and fulfilling friendships, just to name a few of the benefits. Since being fired from my last “outside the home” job, I have never looked back—and probably never will.

Over to you

My one takeaway for anyone who is starting out (or starting over) in a career is to never, ever settle. If you are unhappy with your current employment situation—whether it’s working in an office or from home or anywhere else—remember that you always have options. Move onward—with no regrets.

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