By Amanda Cleary Eastep
Here’s the joke…
An optimist falls off a 10-story building. As he passes the sixth story, someone yells from the window, “How’s it going?” The man yells back, “So far, so good!”
This is kind of how it feels after you make a big leap. Like quitting your job. Depending on what “story” you’ve jumped from, the actual landing may look different from what you imagine.
A year ago September 30, the story I jumped from was a full-time job to grow the side gig I had been building for three years–content marketing writing for businesses and universities.
But as I look back, identifying an official landing point isn’t that easy. The initial landing, i.e. one week in with lots of work and a cushion of savings, was barely a butterfly lighting on a buttercup. Conversely, my first-year anniversary looked more like a bloody splat than the memory I posted on Facebook that day.
Yep, here’s Facebook’s kind reminder of the guest post I wrote last year about my Leap in Faith.
In the comments, one of my fellow bloggers said she would like to read an update on the “leap.” Maybe a post about landing.
Honestly, I had been contemplating such a post. But when you’re marking your first anniversary of self-employment with a transfer out of the savings to pay some bills, you don’t exactly invite everyone over for cocktails. (Wait, maybe that’s exactly what you do.)
At the same time, I have to look at the successes, including more requested estimates and new clients than ever.
So, sure, I’ve landed. But let’s be real. Only two types of landings make news.
And this kind.
For most of us, landing after a leap, whether it’s a job change, a new relationship, or a big move, looks more like this…a few bounces and some ruffled feathers before you take off again. [Click the pic for the video. It’s funnier in German.]
This spring, I often worked on my patio [self-employment perk!] and watched three baby birds grow and prepare to leave the nest. One day, I watched eagerly as each bird was in an obvious stage of leaping for the first time.
One chick leapt from the tree and tried its wings.
One was stretching its wings from the safety and comfort of the nest.
The third was clinging to a branch as the strong breezes blew. That’s the one I felt for.
The first knew how that wind could lift it higher, and the one in the nest didn’t even know what it was missing.
It was the one that had stepped out just a little but couldn’t let go yet that was most tossed by the wind.
Could there have been a better lesson?
As I watched each baby bird, I thought, we can stay safe and secure (whatever that means) in the nests we’ve woven, get tossed about as we cling to our illusions of certainty, or learn to fly on our way down.
My father had his own business when I was young. When I was old enough to understand the challenges that had posed, I also came to understand that no matter how hard you work, how determined you are, or how talented you may be, self-employment (or FILL IN YOUR OWN VENTURE HERE) isn’t Leap > Soar or Leap > Crash.
It’s leap, flap, ride the wind, tail spin, tumble, leap again…sometimes all in one day.
But so far, so good.
I don’t see the ground rushing toward me as I say that, either. Maybe I’m an optimist, but success is measured in so much more than financial stability (much easier to say when you’re making the mortgage).
I’ve gained knowledge, met knew people, learned to live with less, and grown more courageous. I’ve developed a bird’s eye view of my life.
Maybe I’ll be doing this for the next 10 years, and maybe this leap was simply a way to strengthen my wings for the next flight.