The many benefits of moving on from corporate incarceration
I share a three-year progress report of life post-corporate. I'm happy to share that everything will be okay, and you may even become more comfortable and happier after you move on from the rat race.
Making the decision to leave the corporate world isn't an easy one. Giving up a secure role or a steady income is not a simple decision. Lots of friends and colleagues will tell you it's a terrible idea; lots will be jealous of your new direction in life even though many of them will do the same thing at some point.
Push through the fear.
Typical fears people describe include:
- What happens if you decide to make the change, throw your safety net away and then your new self-created job doesn't go to plan?
- Will employers even consider hiring you if you've taken time away from the corporate life to try something new and it hasn't succeeded?
- What if you make a move and you hate it? Are you brave for trying or an idiot for chasing a dream that didn't match the reality?
Fear is never a reason to hold back on living. The first step will be for you to walk through the fear and get to the other side. I spent 1-year in extreme fear, but when I found my way to the other side, I found joy and calm on the other side. Give yourself the time to de-program yourself from the indoctrination that the only way to make money is to earn a living being someone else's employee. This is completely false, and you move from being a slave to a corporate rat race to being your own boss with the freedom of choice you need to thrive.
My values are my guide.
I used to ponder my sector's organization chart and wonder how high I'd elevate. I'd compare myself with others in other roles. Now I compare myself only with who I was yesterday and whether or not I'm a better version of myself. Whether or not I'm filling the position that each of my non-negotiable values requires me to serve. My values are now my board of directors.
I work on what matters to me and has meaning in my life.
When I'm creating, writing, speaking, influencing, I feel alive. I matter. The corporate chain of command has been replaced by a thread of power, a thread running through my life that commands happiness--in the form of meaningful work.
Humans are built for flexible days, not 9-5 ones.
When leaving a corporate lifestyle, you immediately notice the purest of joys; flexibility. That hasn't changed. It's hard to explain how life-changing flexibility is until you have it. Freedom of choice. Flow to the work and what enables you to flow when you work. The Industrial Revolution harmed us with the invention of 9-5 handcuffs.
With flexibility, I'm also experiencing far more of the spaces in-between with my family and friends. This is a quiet spaces between the loud ones that echo. I suspect I have added years to my lifespan in the process because of the stress reduction I experience every day.
Instead of wondering where the day went, I'm adding more of them to my life.
I'm adding time now by being twice as productive. I'm adding time to my life by prioritizing more exercise, less stress, more joy, and a better diet.
Success still matters. Significance matters more.
One thing that hasn't changed since I left the corporation is that I want to be successful.
I really can do this entrepreneur thing. It's a massive world with plenty of room for those who want to hustle.
What has changed is that success isn't enough. Living a life of significance is my new "corner office." Making an actual imprint on something bigger than me counts the most.
My ceiling is based on seeing possibilities, not promotions.
I no longer wait to see how I'm stacking up compared with others to see if I'll rise. I'm limited only by limited thinking, which is drowned out by the sky's-the-limit though. What my boss thinks of me no longer defines me. Living up to others' standards has been permanently replaced by living up to my own.
Learning and growth are no longer distant; they're constant.
In three years, I've learned so much about speaking, writing, and platform building. Necessity is the mother of motivation, after all. I've re-embraced the concept of challenge.
I control my meetings; they no longer control me.
Once a week, I'll hold a few business-critical meetings. The kind with an actual point to them. It's hard to explain what a profoundly dampening effect meetings have on your life until you find freedom in eliminating endless pointless meetings.
I have fewer but deeper relationships. Isn't that where we're all headed anyway?
I miss the colleagues I enjoyed working with and celebrate not having to work with those I disliked. All are appreciated.
Next year's revenue is always unknown. And it's thrilling.
Counting on only yourself for "survival" is satisfying at the most primal level. It's all we had initially been as a species. As an entrepreneur, you're a hunter, gatherer, and more. It's a life of variety. Between variety or sameness to work, I'll take the former. I'm not bashing all corporate jobs, just what mine had become.
I no longer live with the threat of poor performance reviews or corporate manipulation.
At the end of each year, I had to worry about if I had annoyed or burned any bridges with senior leadership, which I typically tended to do. So the performance review became a tool to push me out the door, designed to get me to quit, find a new job, and stop annoying the higher-ups.
This has take a massive weight off my shoulders. Performance reviews were the most despised element of my corporate life; one that I am now able to escape. Phew, what a relief!
Everything positive in my life has led up to what I'm doing right now.
I generally harbour ill-will toward my corporate days. However, the impacts of those decades motivate me to let go of and no longer perpetuate what I hated about corporate living. Most importantly, I found balance and joy.
Looking back, I question the value of all the hours I spent sitting in a fluorescent-lit office with cubicles and mind-numbing office politics. Now I can focus on mindfulness, owning my future, having a lot more spare time doing what I love to do, and earning more money doing it.
I could never go back. It would kill me inside.
I see it now. The terror of daily life within a corporate work environment was preparation for what I'm supposed to be doing. I see now that all roads pointed to the one I'm on today.
Three years in, and all's well.
If you're considering this path, I hope this check-in helps you check-out of the toxic corporate way of life and into a healthier option, to not work within a corporation anymore.