It's been over three months since I was laid off from my corporate manufacturing engineering job. Currently, I'm propped up in my fluffy bed, two Border Collies lounging next to me, looking out my apartment window at a beautiful treeline. This could be any old Saturday, but today feels special. Today feels full of possibility. Because now, I'm making it.
This month, everything is coming together. This month, it is the best, most successful month yet. This month, I've proven to myself that this lifestyle is not only possible but achievable. To be able to live the way you want is often a dream. To do work that is your passion is often a dream. I know many of you hold this dream, and I want to share with you how I've made mine come true. It's not wishing on a shining star; it takes hard work and a very well-thought-out plan. But it is possible, and where there's hope and a drive to make things happen, dreams can come true.
If you're new to my story, I began this blog in September of 2016. Not so long ago! It was the vehicle of my passions - writing about adventuring with my dogs in the great outdoors. Sharing great trails and campsites with others. Empowering all readers to GO. DO. And bring your pup. I've shared stories and given advice.
One of those personal stories was of how miserable I was becoming in my profession. I had climbed the corporate ladder and risen to a place of prestige and competency. I had a skill set few others had, and it bought me a place in leadership. I was making very good money, had job security and excellent benefits, even had a few friends at this company. I got vacation time and flexibility to work from home from time to time. And I lived a mere 5 minutes from where I worked, so I could go home every day and see my pups. Sounds perfect, right?
With this job, I also had increasing anxiety. I had hours of therapy. I had secret anxiety attacks in dark conference rooms at work. I had stress. I had conflicting goals and passions. I had corporate bureaucracy and politics. I had changing managers and coworkers. I had tiny blips of freedom called vacation days. And I had a crisis of the soul. I wasn't doing what I thought I should be doing with my life. I wasn't doing meaningful work. And it ate at me. It ate at me to the point of prescriptions and therapists and breakdowns.
Today, I'm truly living my own life. I'm a full-time professional dog trainer. I help others connect with their dogs, and I help dogs live more fulfilled lives. I teach. I guide. I coach. I empower. I train. I have fun, and I help others to have fun. It feels good! I set my own schedule and manage my own time. I interact with my community and build amazing relationships. I make the world better, and in turn it makes me better. Life is pretty damn good.
So, how did I get from there to here? I want to say it was no happy accident, but I suppose one piece of it was. You see, it doesn't just magically follow that one day I got laid off and the next day this just fell into place. Nope, I had been working towards this goal for many months. You could even say years if you count the acquisition of skills, knowledge, and experience necessary to live this life with proficiency. That's what I want to share with you. I've learned some incredible lessons over the past few years, and they have made doing what I'm doing possible. You can too!
Your Life is Your Resume
This brilliant concept came from my life coach, Laura Berman Fortang. In her TEDtalk, she spoke of how every life experience contributes to who you are as a person and how you are more than what's on paper. Experiences from different personal and professional areas, even though they may seem completely separate, all stack up in a positive way.
It was absolutely critical to me that I be debt-free and have 6 months of expenses in savings before I transitioned. I've been following Dave Ramsey for years, and his common sense methods helped me achieve this goal. You also want to know exactly what your survival budget is and be meeting that before you transition. I'm crazy obsessed with numbers, accounting, and finances. It's good to know exactly where you stand and where you need to be. Get your ducks in a row first or the stress will overcome you. I do recommend being debt-free (no car loans, no credit card debt, no student loans, no payments) and having a nice cushion of 3 - 6 months of expenses in savings.
I would not have been able to do this without help from multiple different people. Having a coach to help me get properly set up with my business (can't speak highly enough of dog*tec!), working with a life coach, a financial advisor, a SCORE mentor, gaining confidence from presenting at 1 Million Cups (a group of entrepreneurs), going to small business expos to learn more, leaning on my support network of friends and family, and identifying my weaknesses and hiring a marketing consultant all contributed to my business rocketing off the ground rather than having a slow start. You may be panicked about money in the beginning (I certainly was, and still am), but having someone in your corner, even if it costs valuable dollars, with the expertise to help you precisely where you need it is essential to success.
I hope my story helps you on your own journey. If you have any questions or just want to talk, I'm always here and happy to support you!