How I Ended up in My 9-5 And Escaped!
A couple of years ago I made the decision to quit my 9 to 5 and work for myself. I was like a lot of people, I found myself in comfortable position picking up my monthly wage and living month to month. My self like a lot of people have always hated the constraints of the normal work week and have always wanted to experience the freedom and self-fulfilment of being self-employed, earning your own money, being the man and not working for the man.
It’s so easy to find yourself in this situation though; you take a job that you think you will keep for a few years to save a bit of cash until you can start your own business. That couple of year plan quickly turns into 10 years and you feel like you depend so much now on that job for survival, paying the bills, holidays socialising etc.
Let’s start from the beginning where I believe I made the first mistake, school. In my particular school at the time all the teachers, career advisers and my parents only ever promoted the idea of do well in high school so you can go to college, do well in college so you can go to university, then if you do well in university you’ll get the well paid job. That was promoted so hard that there seemed like there was no other choice to make. I was someone who did ok in school but didn’t stand out and always worked better with my hands than having my nose in a book. I didn’t want to do the college university route but being the young boy I was, wet behind the ears; I just went along with it. Even if I survived university I had no interest in spending the rest of my life behind a desk. I basically had no clue what I wanted to do and it was terrifying.
I went to college and took some media course that I thought I’d enjoy as I love movies, I soon found out I enjoyed just watching them instead of making them. I went to university doing more of the same and it was there my eyes, only slightly, opened. I quit after 2 months, I’d done something for nearly 3 years and the prospect of doing it for another 3 years was a nightmare, and it felt like a prison sentence.
Now I feel free, but I’m broke, student debt up to my eye balls and only a part time bar tender job in a caravan park for income, I needed something full time. This was my NEXT mistake. At the time my Dad worked in a garage and was responsible for ordering the parts for the mechanics, he managed to get me a full time job there packing parts into boxes ready to be shipped to Germany. Don’t get me wrong, I was grateful for my Dad getting me this job, I needed the cash and I’m not someone who has ever just liked sitting around the house. I thought I’d only keep it for a year to pay my debts and then find something better. It’s just such a soul destroying job for someone who had at the time felt like all’s he’d done is do something he hated because he was forced down a path, to then find myself packing boxes all day was not a good feeling, it was the most worthless I ever felt.
6 months past and all the money I was earning was going on clearing my debt, I’m talking about £3k, not huge numbers now I’ve grown up and know the cost of living and mortgages etc, but for me at 20 years old seemed like £300k. I got a bit of a break, a new role in the garage came available to do what my Dad was doing, supplying car parts. It paid more money and was a bit more stimulating than the mind numbing box packing. I took it and learned everything I could, finding myself after a few years gaining experience and promises from above for potential promotions and raises. I was naïve. The garage knew I needed the job and I was living month to month. I’d lost the bigger picture of what I wanted to do with my life, which was to eventually work for myself, but didn’t know what yet. I’d taken on monthly contracts and subscriptions to services that required me to keep a regular income. I was trapped again, the garage kept me there on a leash with false promises that I knew deep down where just lie’s, it was just so convenient to go along with it as it was EASY and COMFORTABLE.
I felt like I was looking at all the generations before me, through their eyes. I’d fallen into the same trap my parents fell for and most probably your parents. They got comfortable with their job and the easy and reliable money that came with it. The years pass by, responsibilities come in the form of children, cars and houses and then they’re trapped in their own personal prison, not being able to do what they want and complaining to each other about their work life, that was my parent’s anyway. If there is ever a change of job it was only ever sideways moves in my mum and dads case. This was my NEXT mistake.
I knew what I was doing didn’t fulfil me or reward me. Although my eyes where still shut from all the possibilities out there and I only looked at only what I knew. I took the sideways step and moved to a job doing the same thing, on a more regional bigger scale but essentially the same. I got more money and the hours where better, but it was worse. They crammed 4 of us into a small room no bigger than my bed room with one small window that didn’t open and had no air-con, it was now a physical cell for my mental imprisonment to call home for 8 hours a day.
I stayed there for 3 years, 3 long years. It had been over 10 years since school and I was still on that path I didn’t want to be on but only now had I realised it that it didn’t end when I quit university. You jump of one commonly used path and swap it for an all more worn out path, the conveyer belt of low skilled replaceable employees. I essentially had no rights and along with my colleagues always had zero job security with the constant threats from upper management.
I’d had enough and knew if I don’t do something now then I never will, how low do I have to go before I realise there is more to life than this, living and work shouldn’t be two different worlds, they should both co-exist in harmony and make each other better.
The next thing I did WASN’T a mistake.
I’d always enjoyed gardening, even from a young age, my DAD was a keen gardener and I always helped him in our garden sowing in some new bulbs or planting some veg and helping with the harvest months later. My Dad had for years been doing a few Gardens around our town for money on the weekend, partly for money but mainly because he enjoyed it. Working and enjoying it had never seemed like a possibility; I want a bit of that. This was my first idea for a business I could start up, grow and hopefully make enough money to live off. It was what I’d begin to call my side hustle. I put an advert in the paper and started working on my new customers after work and at the weekend. I bought a van and upgraded my tools that my Dad donated to me to get me started.
I had my customers, tools and support of my parents all whilst working my 9- 5. I knew the next step was to go all in on my Gardening Business but I still need to build the courage up to hand my notice in and make it feel real. It took me 2 whole months for me to gain the balls to hand my notice in, I had the full backing of my parents but I was still scared. It’s a scary thing, you are giving up a regular income and security in knowing you have all your commitments paid for and this was even with my parents saying do it and the fact I was getting so much enjoyment from my work I was still hesitant to quit my 9-5.
Once I handed my notice in I felt a massive sense of relief and freedom. The opposite feeling to what I was expecting, I was expecting a sense of ‘oh sh*t, what have I done?’ I can’t pay for this, I can’t do that now. But I didn’t, I felt alive and have experienced emotions since that moment that are often suppressed by the mundane 9-5. I feel pressure in a good way, getting customers and doing a good job to where they are happy with my work and will recommend me to a friend. Genuine happiness, when a customer is so happy with my work that they can’t stop smiling and thanking me. All of this is living with a purpose.
I’ve made mistakes since but they are MY mistakes now with my eyes open and I learn from them. I take responsibility for how I ended up in all my miserable jobs from the past but my eye for an opportunity where firmly shut I was sent down a cul-de-sac.
You have to OPEN your eyes and see that there is a whole world of opportunities out there. The fact you are able to read this blog on a laptop, tablet or phone for god sakes means we have more tools for success than every generation before us.
Take a walk, look around you and list everything that you do or enjoy that is a potential side hustle that you can be working on. I’ve got a few lines of interest that I’m working on alongside my Gardening business. It doesn’t just have to be one idea, it can be as many as you want but there are an infinite amount of opportunities out there.
There is a whole world out there!!!
I know my story won’t be the same for everyone, it was just mine. I know others who have taken the same and slightly different paths that haven’t woken up yet. I’m just trying to encourage others to see beyond the 9-5 and have the same sense of fulfilment and enjoyment I now get out of my work and life. I hope this has been of some help to just one person.
Thanks for reading, whoever you are, Graham.