Today is July 5th. One day past the official holiday in which we here in America use to celebrate our Independence. We became our own country and by doing so in control of our own destiny. I’ve titled this blog post Independence Day +1 to highlight the “Now what?” that inevitably follows such a declaration.

You’ve declared your independence from Corporate America or from a bad habit or maybe from a not so healthy relationship or yes even a British King named George. It took a lot of courage to take this big step. And let me tell you it is a big step. You agonized over it and finally got the gumption to put your foot down and declare your independence.

” I will be in control of my own destiny!”

“I will not do this anymore!”

“I am not going to be a part of a something that isn’t good for me!”

You did it! You feel great! Fantastic even. The world is your oyster. There is nothing that can stop you now. The sense of freedom is intoxicating. You feel powerful and in control of your life for the first time in you don’t even know how long.

“Now what?”

It’s the next day and you wake up still feeling good, but the future which looks so bright you’ve got to wear shades also looks uncertain. If you’ve left Corporate America to strike out on your own what do you do next? You realize that the money that is in your bank account is going to have to last until…….well…..um…..until you get a paying client.  How long will that be? What if you don’t get a client before your money runs out? What will you do? Images of you and your stuff being out in the street begins to flash before your eyes. Panic starts to set in.

“What have I done?!”

Sure your boss was a meany who stifled your career at every turn. Yeah, you haven’t been happy in that line of work for years and the thought of going to work every morning was like having to get a root canal every day. But at least you got a paycheck every two weeks. Rent, groceries, gas and the occasional vacation all from your miserable and life-draining job. Having a place to live, food to eat, gas for the car and especially vacations are wonderful things.

“What was I thinking?”

Before you go crawling back to your boss, take a moment to read the following words:

Don’t panic.

When things start to feel as though they are overwhelming and careening out of control. Stop yourself in mid-spin and tell yourself those words, “Don’t panic”. Take a deep breath in and hold it for a few seconds while thinking of your imagined doom and gloom scenario then release the worst case scenario thoughts with your breath. It may take more than one cleansing breath to do this, but once you’ve reached a state of calm it’s time to review. Recap not only the reasons you declared your independence but also what you plan to do with this new found freedom.

Write it down on a piece of paper. Make a list. I’ve always found it helpful to see things rather than just think of them.  Something about the actual words written down where I can see them gives me a sense of control over them and their meaning. I put them on that piece of paper. Before that they didn’t exist. I have the power to do that and so too I have the power to make these things become a reality.

Independence not only means freedom it also means responsibility. You are free to pursue your destiny but it is also your responsibility to make it happen. There is no Employee Handbook, HR Department or systems set up to guide you on your independent journey. It is your responsibility to create your own guidelines and best practices. Sounds a bit daunting doesn’t it? Once again, let me remind you, “Don’t panic”. Take an appreciative breath for the freedom you now have to lead your life as you see fit.

The Founding Fathers helped to create and shape an entire nation based on a list. By writing down that list they put into place the first steps of what was to became our Nation’s reality. Take the time to write your own Declaration of Independence. Frame it and refer back to it often. Who knows how important it may be in the future? Two hundred and thirty-two years later the original is still having an impact on the the world.

Remember, we have the power of creation within us. When you get to Independence Day +1, all it means is that now it’s time to create your destiny.

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10 Comments on Independence Day +1

  1. PapaBear says:

    There is also the added bonus of knowing that any mistake can be overcome. Making a mistake doesn’t have the kiss of death attached to it like it does in the corporate world. If you make a bad decision or you fail to preform, you will suffer a consequence. But if you continue to hustle, and promote a worthwhile product or service, you can move past just about any setback.

  2. Abi says:

    Inspiring post! I really enjoyed reading it.

  3. jennifer says:

    @PapaBear: The other thing is to be kind to yourself during the transition from Corporate America to running your own show. It’s not going to be perfect. It’s a work in progress. Allow yourself the latitude to figure things out.

    @Abi: Thanks! I am a big believer in doing what makes you happy.

  4. JackieAdame says:

    This post is as inspiring as it is timely. We all go through the doubtful moments in life that have us questioning the decision of independence. Sometimes the comfort of familiarity looks pretty darn good compared to the scary unknown.
    But remember the familiar is what pushed you to seek independence in the first place.

  5. Michael says:

    Great post, Jennifer. I love finding a new post on your blog when I check it because I’m always assured a great read. I’m definitely keeping this one filed for future use when I make the jump to becoming independent.

  6. Awesome post!

    Currently I am working with my two partners to redirect the focus of our small firm. We were spread out too thin which made our work suffer, and lately I’ve been inspired to shift our focus to a more narrow, yet productive future.

    I can’t say that I can hang my hat on this future yet, but in the long run I’d like to see things grow to a point where I can declare my independence.

    Truly an inspirational post if I ever read one!

  7. jennifer says:

    Michael, Jackie & Luis,

    Glad this was helpful.

    I write about stuff that makes me tick so I guess it’s also stuff that makes you tick, too. Nice to know I’m not alone in this. 🙂

  8. HRBabe says:

    Independence Day +1 = My BDay.

    😉

  9. Wow, was this ever a well written post! This one makes me think, about a lot of things. I would absolutely love to get out of retail hell, quit my job, and have time to do things again. (Things like my own writing, for example, instead of spending my days selling someone else’s writing).

    What is keeping me in my job right now, is two things. There is absolutely now way we could pay our bills if I stopped working. And, there would be absolutely no health insurance for either of us if I quit working. Both are badly needed. Try as I might, I can’t seem to figure out how to safely go from dependent on Corporate America, to free to work on my own projects, without ending up homeless in the process. How did you do it?

  10. jennifer says:

    Jen,

    In June of 2003 we heard Brian Tracy speak at an event we were attending in Las Vegas. We were so motivated to make a change that we went up to the room, took a spiral notebook out and wrote out a plan.

    In a nutshell it said:

    1. In 3 months John would turn his letter of resignation in and leave his Corporate America job.
    2. We would pursue an independent opportunity and move to San Antonio.

    We faced similar challenges as you do now. When John left his job our insurance coverage left, too. We had bills just like everyone else does. The steady check was gone. It was going to be up to us to make it all work.

    We talked to folks we knew were successful entrepreneurs. Each of them told us the same thing. “The first year is the hardest. As long as you love what you do and work hard you’ll be successful. Once you get past the first year things will be fine.”

    They were right. The first year was extremely difficult. But we got through it and here we are 5 years later still chugging along. We faced a lot of challenges and still do to this day.

    Here is what we know that we didn’t know 5 years ago: The knowledge that there isn’t anything we can’t do when we set our mind to it.

    The fact is we made a plan and acted upon it. We figured we were spending 40+ hours a week making someone else rich. Making someone else’s dreams come true. If we even put half as much effort into ourselves we knew we could succeed.

    I wish you the best in your pursuit of happiness. 🙂

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