Friday October 21, 2016 was my last day working at my comfortable corporate job. After 9 years, the last 5 being with the same company, it was time for a change. When I started that last job in corporate accounting and financial reporting, I wasn’t exactly sure if it was the right fit. At the time, I was running away from my job as an auditor at a public accounting firm.
This time around, I’m running towards my own journey as an entrepreneur. While leaving the office for the last time on October 21 and on my way to meet a friend for lunch, I felt a sense of peace. It just felt right.
Back to the Beginning
I’ve always wanted to pursue self-employment. As a kid, I sold friendship bracelets and held lemonade stands. My favorite board game is Monopoly. More recently, I opened an Etsy shop and started a personal finance/lifestyle blog all while plugging along in the corporate world. But those didn’t seem like the best use of my talents until I heard a couple of podcast episodes with Mary Beth Storjohann explaining being a self-employed fee-only financial planner for 20- and 30-somethings. Finally! Here’s a way I could help people by putting my CPA and financial skills to work!
That was over two years ago and I launched Brightwater Financial in mid-2015. Of course, life has a funny way of mixing things up and throwing you for a loop. A few months after launching this business, we welcomed our second child into the world. I thought I could grow Brightwater Financial while still working a normal 9-to-5 job and raising two kids. Boy, was I wrong! Maybe it would have been possible if we didn’t have kids or if they were older, but trying to do it all with two little ones is TOUGH! Especially two kids who tend to think sleep is optional. Even though my husband is supportive and super helpful around the house, mommy is usually the default parent and I was running out of bandwidth. I was doing a little better than survival mode, but not by much.
The Turning Point
In the beginning of 2016, I was asked to be a part of a mastermind group with four other fee-only financial planners. Over the weeks, it became apparent that if I wanted to take this financial planning business seriously, some changes would need to be made. The scariest would be to quit my comfortable corporate job. Or scale back to a part-time position.
At the same time, there were changes being made at my day job. Four or five years ago I would have been all about them. But two kids later, I was burning out. This quote by Thomas Merton was me:
People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.
The event that brought the greatest clarity was our son being diagnosed with a blood platelet disorder. So far, it just seems to be a one time thing, but a middle of the night trip to the ER, an IV treatment, and countless blood draws have reset my priorities. There’s never a perfect time to go solo, but this was as good as any other time. It was time to stop overthinking things and take the leap.
A Fresh Start
Over the past few weeks, I’ve felt a mixture of excitement, fear, and self-doubt. We checked and double checked our personal financial situation. Ultimately, we knew if this business didn’t work out, I could always go back and get a normal 9-to-5 job. We are also comfortable making the change because we have a healthy emergency fund and I lined up part-time job that I can do from home. One, to help bridge the income gap. And two, to help fill the time, because I know I won’t be swamped with client work straight out of the gate. (Fill my schedule here!) I also launched Brightwater Accounting as another way to utilize my CPA skills by offering tax prep and accounting services.
As you can imagine, this move towards self-employment is also about finding more balance. Instead of waking up excited and ready to go on my first day, I was groggy from a long night of taking care of a 1 year old. So instead of forcing myself to work, I embraced my new flexibility and treated myself to a celebratory pumpkin spice latte and then went to the gym. After a fairly productive day, I stopped early to get dinner ready before picking up the kids. I’m liking Arianna Huffington’s new path to success:
Don’t just climb the ladder of success – a ladder that leads, after all, to higher and higher levels of stress and burnout – but chart a new path to success, remaking it in a way that includes not just the conventional metrics of money and power, but a third metric that includes well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving, so that the goal is not just to succeed but to thrive.
Looking back, this part of my journey is important when it comes to relating to financial planning clients. I have more life experiences when it comes to changing jobs, negotiating salaries, starting businesses, buying a home, starting a family, updating budgets, and saving for those big goals. I can also relate to business owners on a more personal level because I understand the motivation to be self-employed.
If you think it’s time to make a change to your current financial situation and start planning for a brighter future, I’d love to talk with you. Here’s where you can schedule a complementary 30-minute strategy session: