Lessons from the Last Year: #1 - You're More Ready Than You Think You Are
As I sat down to write this on May 10, I realized that it had been nine months to the day that I decided to give notice at my most recent job and start consulting and coaching full-time. It's funny because that was never the plan. I'd definitely thought about and started on the first few steps of a planned career shift, but had sketched out a gradual process over five or so years rather than five or so weeks. I don't have a history of making impulsive financial decisions, but my intuition was speaking (okay, more like screaming, if we're being honest) and I chose to listen.
If someone had asked me around July 2022 about my future solo entrepreneur and small business owner plans, I'm sure that most of what I shared at that time would've come from a place of anxiety and self-doubt. Maybe I'd be solvent for a few months but eventually I'd feel the stable pull of a salary and benefits. Maybe I'd enjoy what I was doing but have to lower my prices in order to close contracts. Or maybe I'd find myself in an endless chronic illness flare, working just enough to cover co-pays and health insurance while not letting my body truly rest or heal.
Luckily, none of those imagined scenarios has happened yet, and in the meantime, I've learned and grown in ways that I couldn't have imagined. As Yeojeong LLC's one-year anniversary gets closer, I'll be sharing some reflections from my journey, starting with one that really pushed me to heal my relationship to education and ambition: You're More Ready Than You Think You Are.
"There's always more to learn"
For some this is a gentle reminder of the value of curiosity and humility, but for me, it was an internalized fact that there would always be someone out there whose professional experience and expertise was more robust than mine, so it wasn't worth trying to enter the fray. And even though I'm proud of the work I did as a grant maker and funder organizer, being in philanthropy regularly activated my imposter syndrome in all kinds of way related to race, age, gender, class, and disability. The way I saw it, there would always be something I didn't have that would overshadow the skills I did. It's not even that I was afraid of failure; I was afraid of falling short of perfection.
When I paused to look around, though, I realized that my life was (and still is) full of possibility models. All around me were successful women and queer people of color entrepreneurs, many of whom were like me - mid-career, disabled or chronically ill, and without a dual income or partner's health insurance (no shade to anyone who has this, I just needed to see that it was possible for my circumstances).
So I started asking around, curious to know what others enjoyed about being full-time consultants and if they had any regrets. The similarity in people's answers floored me: they loved the flexibility, they hated the taxes, they were so glad they did it, and they wouldn't give it up for anything. They also reassured me, urged me, and cheered me on.
As I began updating my website, deciding on service offerings, clarifying my values, and building out a sliding scale for my fees, I realized that I was actually more qualified than I had initially thought. I saw that I didn't need a fancy certification or a longer resume, and that my hesitancy to believe in what I could offer was rooted not in humility but in insecurity. I was ready, and I was enough.
These last nine months have been a whirlwind. At the beginning, I told some friends and acquaintances that I was doing a full revolution through The Emotions Wheel every 24-36 hours (maybe former theatre kids are a little dramatic?). I won't know for sure until the end of August but I estimate that my net income is ~30% lower than my last salaried job, and my monthly health insurance premium is almost as much as my mortgage. I have a steady gig writing personalized book recommendations that adds a few more hours to my week but also lets me do something unrelated to nonprofit management and organizational development. I haven't been able to save at the same rate but my relationship to work has drastically changed, mostly for the better.
I share all of this as a reassurance that you're likely more ready to start on the next part of your journey than you might think you are too. And that's doubly true if you've been told or felt that, because of your race, age, gender, disability, class, education, or anything else, that you need to wait. So go ahead. Put yourself out there. Share your next big idea with the world. You, your creativity, and your autonomy deserve it.
I hope that you'll join me over the next few months as I continue to share my lessons from the last year. If you're not already subscribed to my email list, where you'll find out about each post and more about my ongoing work, you can sign up here. Thank you for coming on this journey with me.
Notes: I have deep gratitude for Jade T. Perry's Cecilia Weston Spiritual Academy EarthWerk cohort for the coaching and guidance I received prior to founding Yeojeong Consulting and Coaching, and would highly recommend the program and all of Jade T. Perry's offerings in tarot work, easeful magic, spiritual entrepreneurship, and collective care. I also want to recognize Nicole Clark Consulting, Danbee Kim's OORI Studio, Ashley Fontaine's Flux AF, and Audrey Kuo's Freedom Verses as literal and figurative templates for what was possible and how it could look.