What I Learned From Leaving My Job To Work From Home

For most of us, the thought of working from home sounds pretty amazing. Sleeping in and working in your fuzzy bunny slippers while sipping your warm coffee is what it's all about, right? Well, not exactly, but it's still pretty amazing.

The day I quit my day job was one of the scariest of my life. I had been working as a nurse for the past 10 years, and the thought of walking away was terrifying. Was I making a mistake? Would I regret this in a few years? What if my business completely falls through?

Leaving a stable job to go out on my own took courage, support, and an inner fire to succeed. I've learned a lot from my career transition, the most important lesson being that you will never feel ready to make the leap. Don't wait. Keep moving forward.

A nagging feeling

Very early into my career, I knew being a nurse was not my calling. I should have listened to my intuition sooner, but felt like I needed to stick it out. In college when fellow nursing students were excited to start our clinical rotations in hospitals, I couldn't even eat those days because I was so nervous. When friends were excelling in biochemistry and pathophysiology classes, I was barely keeping my head above water just trying to pass.

One strength I did discover during college was writing. I loved researching the complicated medical topics we were learning about and organizing that information into papers. However, there weren't many opportunities to write once I began working full-time as a nurse, and I quickly forgot about that passion.

Becoming a mother changed everything

As I became more experienced as a nurse, I found aspects about it that I enjoyed. I loved the connections I made with my patients and their families. I loved being there for my fellow nurses and helping each other throughout our shifts. Most of all, I loved knowing that my work was truly making a difference.

However, it still wasn't right. Becoming close to patients was emotionally draining. I often drove home after a long shift nodding off from pure exhaustion. And none of this became so clear as when I became a mother.

When we had our daughter four years ago, I suddenly saw my life with perfect clarity. I slowed down for the first time ever and found the incredible joy in being totally present with those around me. Maternity leave was this happy blur of napping, cuddling, and finally hearing my intuition.

Something had to give

Once I had a taste of how good life could be, of how it felt to truly live my purpose, I knew I needed to make a change. Being home for those three months showed me that there is another way to live. I knew I couldn't go back to the constant stress of a job that wasn't right for me, and so I got to work.

I began Googling ways that nurses could work from home and spent every free moment searching for answers. When I learned about medical writing, I dove in. I had no training, no connections, and no one to teach me, but I was just desperate enough not to let that stop me. I made phone calls, sent emails, and made countless mistakes, and slowly but surely, I started landing writing jobs.

Where to start

If you've been feeling a gentle tug to make a change in your life or career, don't ignore it. We all have a strong inner wisdom that will lead us to a more fulfilling life, if we let it.

The most important step I took to becoming a writer was simply starting. I emailed nursing education companies and earned a job writing courses and exams for nurses. I started a food blog and began making connections with local publications. I even landed my own recipe column in our local magazine, complete with regular TV appearances! I then became a recipe tester for major food companies.

Experience doesn't matter. Education doesn't matter. It's all about courage and persistence.

Make a plan

When I first started looking for writing jobs, I spent far too long frantically looking for anyone who would hire me. I was ready to leave my job and stay home with our daughter, and I felt desperate to get there faster. In order to do that, I took any writing job that came up, without thinking about how it fit into my overall career plans.

It wasn't until I became crystal clear on what I was building that I started to create some real momentum in my freelancing business. I wrote out my vision for my future with as much detail as possible. I knew I wanted to flexibly work from home. I wanted a career that I could completely plan around my family, instead of the other way around. I wanted to be able to travel and go on adventures together. Most of all, I wanted to leave behind the constant stress of not having control over my career and my workdays.

Once I had a clear vision, it was easy to come up with smaller goals and action steps to help me achieve my dream. I created an income goal that I needed to hit in order to leave my job and started becoming more discerning with what writing jobs I should take on.

Once you know your big goal, it will be very easy to come up with smaller goals and tasks to get you there.

You'll figure it out

Now that I am working as a successful writer, friends and acquaintances often come up to me with questions and comments. One of the most common things I hear is "I wish I could do something that like that, but I'm not a writer."

The thing is, none of us are born with the skills to become a writer or a nurse or a lawyer or any other profession. We learn them over time. Have you ever seen a newborn baby walking and talking? Me neither! That baby has to make mistakes to learn, and so do we.

Don't limit yourself because you feel that you don't have the right background or skillset to accomplish a big goal. Simply commit to figuring it out as you go.

You'll give others the courage to make a big leap

There's something exciting and contagious when someone around you hits a big goal. You may even feel a hint of jealousy, but that's a good thing! Your little green monster is giving you hints about what you truly want for your own life.

As I worked to build up my writing business, I always felt a little guilty about leaving my job and coworkers behind. I was worried about what everyone would think of me, and if they'd resent me for leaving them high and dry. Fortunately, it was just the opposite.

When I finally announced that I was leaving my job, I received an avalanche of excitement and well wishes. I suddenly had multiple coworkers and Facebook friends confiding in me that they've always dreamed of doing something like this. My success created a ripple effect that I didn't expect. I have since helped old and new friends jump-start their own side gigs and freelance careers.

Do what's right for you

If you have been dreaming about leaving your job to do your own thing, don't let the fear of what others may think stop you. For one thing, you're probably wrong about what others are thinking of you. It also truly doesn't matter.

End of life studies prove that worrying about what everyone else thinks is dangerous. Researcher Bronnie Ware interviewed dying people and found common threads in all of their discussions. One of the most common regrets of the dying? Not having the courage to live their own lives. In interview after interview, hospice patients told Ware that they regretted listening to the advice of others, rather than following their own intuition and dreams.

"This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled," Ware told The Guardian. "Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it."

There are no guarantees

While I knew that I wanted to become a freelance writer, the freelance part of it scared me. Was I crazy for leaving a dependable job like nursing to leap into the unpredictable world of freelancing? When you're a freelancer, you can never truly relax. When I land a new writing job, I celebrate for about a second before I'm thinking about how to land the next one. I always thought of my day job as being the safe choice, but I soon realized that it is actually the opposite.

The day I walked into my clinic ready to quit, I still felt a little unsure. I was especially nervous because I was going to be meeting with our brand-new director. Quitting the first time you're meeting your new boss is not a good look.

Before I had a chance to give my notice, I learned that some clinic policies were changing, most notably the hours I would be required to work. The new guidelines would have required me to work more and have to change our daycare situation.

As I sat in our meeting, all I could think was, "Thank God I started writing!" Here I was thinking that nursing is the safe choice, but when you work for someone else, the control is out of your hands. Your hours can change, your position can be eliminated, your vacation request may not be approved. However, when you're the boss, you have the control. Sure, making sure you have enough work can be stressful at times, but your fate will never be in someone else's hands. Now I know that I'd rather bet on myself than anyone else.

It was never about the job

When I was building up my side business while working, I kept telling myself a certain story. I'll be happy once I leave my job. I'll be able to slow down once I leave my job. All my dreams will come true once I get out of this job!

But here's the thing. It may be a long time between when you set your goal and when you achieve it. Waiting to be happy is a mistake. You'll be wasting months or years of your precious life, so start looking for ways to add some joy to your day. Maybe you aren't home with your kids full-time yet, but could you take off one afternoon to play with them at the park? Perhaps you could spend your lunch break at work writing a blog post for your business. Find small ways to incorporate joy into your everyday life. You'll hit your goals faster and actually enjoy the journey.

You'll never feel ready

Once I set my writing income goal, I thought I would have no trouble walking away from my nursing job once I hit it. However, as soon as it was time for me to quit, I immediately felt this sense of dread. I suddenly realized that this was a terrible idea, and that everything I had ever accomplished had been a complete fluke.

This will happen any time it's time to take a big leap. You will never feel ready. You will never feel like it's the right time. The only option is to move forward anyway. Otherwise you will stay in a job that's not right for you for far too long.

Set your goals. Crush your goals. And then stick to the plan and move on.

Just start

There were plenty of reasons for me to stay in my nursing job. I had a stable job with coworkers who I loved. I was moving up in my career and was a valued member of the team. I went to college and graduate school to be a nurse. Oh, and I knew absolutely nothing about writing, or any other career, for that matter.

But there was one big reason to try to become a writer. Because it was in my heart. Because I knew that something was missing, and I found the inner strength to go after it. Becoming a mother definitely gave me that extra courage to try new things and put myself out there.

If you have been dreaming of a fresh start, take one small step today. Send the email. Make the call. Read the book. Start today. You'll be so glad you did.