Admittedly, I’m embarrassed when I’m browsing the self-help shelves at the local library. I’m afraid someone will see me and my scream for help will be deathly obvious. Or worse, a future employer will see me and think I’m unstable.
The truth is, I love books, self-help and otherwise, and I’ve found some really life-changing information on those shelves. I’m mid-pivot in my career and was delighted when I found a book that suited my situation perfectly: The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube by Michelle Goodman. Even the cover spoke to me. It reminds me of my days of peeking over cube walls at my last job, desperate to escape the mundane workday. This guide is for any woman (or man) who is looking for tips and tricks on making the move from the beige office carpet to your own office space, wherever you hope that to be.
I spent the last 10 years working in and out of offices, wearing business suits and high-heeled shoes, commuting hours on end, and desperate for breaks on the weekend or counting down the days til I could use my accumulated PTO.
Not until recently did I decide that a corporate office was not my cup of tea. I craved working outdoors and didn’t want to only work on my creative ideas on evenings and weekends. I had already made the move away from home (which felt like a big life step) and scored a great job in NYC but I still felt something was lacking.
The experience I gained from employers was incredibly valuable but I didn’t want to work in sales anymore or manage accounts. I didn’t want to keep working for someone else’s dream company. I wanted to control my destiny. So there I was, browsing the shelves at the library when this book practically jumped out and leapt in my bag.
Did you know that according to the National Business Council, there are 7.8 million women-owned businesses in the United States? This reflects a 20.1% increase from 2002 to 2007. The states with the largest percentage of women-owned businesses are: District of Columbia (34.5%), Maryland (32.6%), New Mexico (31.7%), Hawaii (31.0%), and Georgia (30.9%). Stats like this make me jump for joy because I feel like I’m among many women headed in the direction of financial freedom and independence. I’m more confident knowing there is a market for us and a movement of women doing it together.
Michelle Goodman’s book makes it easy to see your career change in several simple steps because she breaks up the marathon into digestible chapters. From her perspective as a woman who’s done it too, she guides you through what it takes to make the move away from your regular 9-5 to a freelance career. She casually jokes about the difficulty in it, which makes it feel like you can do it too, or that she is speaking to you as a friend. Come to think of it, I don’t know that I’ve read other career self-help books by women except Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.
From a practical standpoint, each chapter comes with simple, well-planned action steps to guide you through each stage from the brainstorming phase to budgeting for big change to finally making the leap. I never felt forced to follow each step word-for-word but I did write some steps in my own calendar and made notes on what to do next.
Mind you, I’m not making big bucks as a freelancer (yet!) but I’m confident in the direction I’m headed and that is enough for me to keep pushing and pursuing my dream.