Starting a New Career at 30

Life is too damn short to be miserable. And I’m going to do something about it.

I have worked in the same building in varying capacities since I was 20 years old. That’s 10 years of learning the inner workings of Public Service and climbing the ladder. I’ve had lots of time and opportunity to see behind the curtains… and it ain’t pretty. And it’s time to plan an escape route.

A few months ago, I wasn’t entirely sure where my blog or shop was heading. I really  just decided to start; anywhere was better than nowhere. For the sake of my health and sanity, I had to formulate a plan to escape my toxic day job. I’ve come to realize that the place I’m excelling and wanting to be, is working in graphic design. My design skills from two months ago to now are impressive, even to me. It’s something that I love doing, love learning about, and feel like I need to pursue. Best of all, it doesn’t feel like work. It’s fulfilling and fun. I feel like it’s a perfect mix of things I enjoy and setting up to be an amazing career.

So what does this mean for the day job? This means I begin to formulate my exit strategy. My plan is to be out of there in two years MAX. If I can get out sooner, that’s preferable. I’m going to use my design skills to help us finish paying off out student loans, build an emergency cushion, and then be a full-time freelancer.

Am I nervous? Oh definitely. I’m driven and motivated enough to be my own boss, I’ve led teams, and created a process from scratch, but I’ve never had to do it outside the four walls of an organization. This of course is unchartered territory for me, but I’m taking steps to make these as seamless and stress free as possible.

Watch The Budget

Since retail and Freelance work can be tricky creatures, it’s important to really watch our budget now, and prepare a nest egg. The great thing about being a freelance graphic designer, is that I could break my leg and still be able to work. So that doesn’t scare me. What does worry me is uncertainty and whether or not the work will be steady. That’s one big perk to doing this as a second job; I can get the full lay of the land before quitting.

Share My Feelings with My Husband and Friends

I’m not always great about communicating how I’m feeling. I often internalize my freak-outs so I don’t worry those around me. Lately I’ve been opening up more about things that worry me about making my business my full-time job. But I realized that being silent means I turn in on myself. Not letting anyone in is just as bad as being in my toxic work environment.

Talking to my Husband and Friends has been very therapeutic, and I am so grateful for them. Plus I get to tell them all of the crazy stuff that happens at work and they can shake their heads right along with me. They’re my sanity check.

Learn as Much as I Can and Create as I Go

This is CRUCIAL. The research I’ve done says that a degree for a Freelance Graphic Designer isn’t a huge deal. Knowing your stuff and having the talent to design, however, is. But boy is there still a ton to learn:

  • The Basics of Graphic Design, of course. (Color Theory, Drawing Skills, Mastering my Wacom Intuos)
  • Adobe Illustrator (feeling good with this one though)
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe InDesign
  • Social Media
  • Marketing
  • Instagram (which I am TOTALLY Addicted to right now)
  • The ins and outs of being a small business owner in general

I’m reading a ton of books, taking courses at Udemy, googling things that I want to learn and making a design style that fits me. It’s absolutely paying off. I learn best by doing, so my Etsy Shop has been a great place to hone my skills.

With anything, skill takes time and practice. The time I spend on building my business and my skillset is going to be what I do in my spare time for a while. But I’m perfectly ok with that, because I’m having a blast.

I’ve also been going back to earlier designs and making them better. I did that with a few items this past week and I was really happy with the results. It’s startling seeing what I originally made to what I’m capable of now.

All in all, I’m kind of glad that my day job isn’t making me happy. Because if it hadn’t made me completely miserable, I would never have stepped out of my comfort zone and found something I truly love and feel good about. How’s that for a positive attitude? 😉

2 thoughts on “Starting a New Career at 30

  1. wineandmommyhood says:

    This is GREAT! I too am at a place at the age of 36 that I want more in terms of being happy in a career. I also want to have my son home with me versus daycare everyday. Sooooo, I am also planning a exit strategy. It’s going to take me some time, but I’m looking forward to “next”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rita says:

      I wholeheartedly recommend reading “Start” by Jon Acuff. It beautifully outlines where it seems we both are in our journey! It helped me a lot, and it sounds like you might enjoy it too.


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