2018 has been a big year for me.
Back in May, on my twenty-fifth birthday, I woke up and didn’t need to go into my office for work. The previous day had been my last at my software company job, and it was my first day of self-employment.
The last six months have had big ups, many emotional outbursts, and some horrible lows and waves of loneliness. Going out on your own isn’t easy. Working for yourself isn’t for everyone. You usually don’t have a team, at least to begin with. You have to find a new structure and rhythm to your day, otherwise you’ll wonder – like kids on school holidays –how on earth you will fill the void. I’ve been there. I’m still sort of there.
But as I’m writing this, six months on, I still have money in the bank. I’m still living in the land of cheese, chocolate, and sky-high living costs. I haven’t cut into my savings. It’s still early days, but I’ve worked with some awesome clients and have exciting things to come.
I’ve been able to work on my side projects and business ideas. I’ve got a draft manuscript of a book about my three years living here in the Swiss Alps; writing, thinking and watching nature from my little Heidi house by the mountains.
Books have been with me the whole way. Which is needless to say, really. They are always there.
Back in February, when I was unhappy and unhealthy in my job, I started reading a whole lot of get-out-of-your-rut non-fiction.
First up was You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero. Yeah, it’s a book with one of those titles. But oh, did it help.
I knew I wasn’t where I wanted to be.
I wasn’t healthy, either. I’ve always struggled with my skin, but it was the worst it had ever been. My sweat smelled like stress, something that happens when I’m in a really bad place. I ended up in hospital with a suspected kidney infection. I wasn’t moving up in my career and I wasn’t supported. There were people around me who were definitely bringing me down.
Reading Jen Sincero gave me the kick in the butt I needed to make a change.
I read Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Vision and Make Things Happen by Tara Mohr and noticed when I was letting fear get in the way.
I finally finished Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins and got really clear on my values.
After reading those books, I knew what I had to do.
I’d known it for a while, but I feared the insecurity of not knowing what I’d do next. I quit my job with no other option in place – a luxury of being young, mortgageless and childless, but scary and unsettling nonetheless.
After I opened up that space in my life, new opportunities flowed in. I was offered two COO positions, which I turned down because I knew I wanted more freedom, creativity, and time to look after myself. But I also got several offers for consulting and project-based work, which was perfect timing.
Books have shown me the way since.
I read Jen Sincero’s You are a Badass at Making Money and charged more than I thought I could get – and got it.
I looked after my body and mind by reading Yoga for Life by Collen Saidman Yee.
By rereading my favourite crime novel, I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes, I distracted myself from worries and had an evening reading session to look forward to on hard days. I escaped into the new Cormoran Strike novel by Robert Galbraith on my train journeys across Switzerland.
Mary Oliver’s words comforted me, as they always do. They encouraged me to sit outside, spend time in the woods, and write about nature, life, and how I was feeling. She reminded me to pay attention.
I read Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig to take my mental health seriously and know I was not alone when I felt anxious or under the weather. I learned that our planet makes it all too easy to feel that way, but we can fight that.
Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami introduced me to others forging a new path and making way for their creativity (in the mountains, too!)
Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki reminded me that I didn’t need to be earning megabucks. If I had enough to support my living costs and have what’s important to me, that’s enough in so many ways.
When I thought I’d never get any more clients and run out of money, I turned back to Jen Sincero and Tara Mohr. I gave my thinking a shakeup and told myself to stop sabotaging my chances of success with my own head.
I turned to What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey and started paying more attention to the many wonders of our everyday lives.
When the loneliness and isolation started to hit a couple of months ago, I turned back to Haemin Sunim’s The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down, a book which had already helped me through so much in the last year.
Because of the books I’m reading, I’m getting through the hard stuff and moving forwards. I’m building a career that works for me; one that best cares for my values, creativity, lifestyle, and wellbeing.
I know reading will be a crucial part of what comes next – in all areas of my life. I have a lot of faith in it.