I can’t believe it’s been a year since I quit my job. What a complete mixed bag of emotions it’s been but it’s safe to say that I have no regrets. In the last year, I did manage to achieve some personal milestones but I am aware you really don’t need to quit your job to get there. I salute these men and women that can go out there and be a better or newer version of themselves with a full time job, family and other priorities.
In 2015, I was reaching my tipping point and I didn’t know it yet. I had quit a job I liked and was good at because I just couldn’t get further up the corporate ladder. I left behind friends and colleagues I adored to start a more senior job in a newer, smaller and less structured company. I got married, moved house, got a dog, never had a honeymoon because we were too busy. I could start to feel the threads coming apart at the seams (quite literally). Though millions of people go through these changes every year, for the first time I wasn’t sure if I was really up for the all the new changes life had thrown at me, all at once. I needed a clean break from a 9 year relationship with the city, my job, food and my body. So I decided to take a funemployment break to go out and do what I have always wanted to do, study and pursue a career that involved the more creative side of food.
Here’s what I learnt one year in…
It’s Not a 9 to 5 Job?
Much like working from home when you have a corporate job, you end up working all the time in your PJs from morning to night and there isn’t really a specific start or end to your day. If you have family or well any other priorities it’s hard. If you squeeze in a more than necessary binge session of Netflix in between the purpose has been defeated. The change in schedule was hard in the beginning. I didn’t realize what a creature of habit I had become. What’s hardest is to wake up every morning and be able to see the end goal clearly so you don’t leave yourself feeling directionless and unmotivated. It’s been a struggle but busy days in the kitchen baking and on my laptop working and blogging help. Keep a schedule and set achievable goals and deadlines for everything from content development, recipe testing and orders. It’s necessary to be self motivated and pick yourself up out of the funk because you won’t have that boss watching over you or dragging you into meetings forcing you to be accountable. It’s all you!
Healthy Body Healthy Mind
Ever since I moved back to Dubai, I struggled with weight gain. For me it stemmed from the inability to say NO, to myself and others. At the start of your career fresh out of grad school you want to prove yourself and end up saying YES to everything and that means you will be the last one to leave the office. Can you imagine what happened to my workout and eating plan, or the lack there off. I gained 15 kilos in the first year. I had never been an unhealthy person – always found the time to work out, eat right and then this happened. I never quite recovered from it and it took a toll on my health over the next 9 years. Today, I’ve finally learnt to say NO. I work out 5 days a week, eat right 90% of the time (I am consciously NOT giving up desserts) and am healthier and happier than I have ever been. I’m totally embracing JOMO, the Joy of Missing Out!
Oh Happy Days!
I’d hope to feel this way for years while I worked my marketing job. To wake up and feel a sense of newness and verve. Though it did come momentarily at the start of new campaigns towards the last few years no matter how much you gave to the job, it never seemed enough. The months of disengagement and uncertainty due to corporate restructures and large scale global layoffs at my two previous employers were reason enough for me to move on and start my own journey. Though I’m still learning and traversing various opportunities I have the same amount of zeal and enthusiasm as I did when I started. I’m more present and am truly happy and grateful for the friends, family and dog we have in our lives.
It’s Not a Straight Road
So I had a plan, it didn’t work out exactly like I’d hoped but I’m getting there. If you enjoy routine, starting off on your own is really hard. It’s not a straight road to success and there are loads of little pit stops along the way. Ones you learn from and others which provide you with a glimmer of hope that you are on the right track. Hold on to these, I had late night gigs in Abu Dhabi, trials under well known chefs, menu development projects for restaurants, cake orders for birthdays and weddings and though none of these were exactly what I wanted to do, by just saying -‘let’s try, what do I have to lose’ I ended up learning and doing more than I ever knew possible. It all adds up to invaluable experience along the way.
Dust yourself off, and try again! Like I said, the road hasn’t been clear or straight. I did set out to launch a brand and worked with an agency to sort through branding and packaging. Six months into that project, the agency lost focus and went astray. My several different engagements left me too busy to follow through and I found myself kicking myself in the rear end because the main reason I quit hadn’t quite come to see the light of day. I was hard on myself, I did get bogged down wondering if I had bitten off more than I can chew and if I was cut out for all this in the end. An evening of honest conversations with myself and my supportive husband has still kept me going. I’m on the hunt for a new branding agency and will pick up where I left off. No hard feelings, no regrets.
Good Things Take Time
I did start off with possibly unrealistic standards of how long it would take to get reasonably good at The 3 Big B’s – Blogging, Baking and Business. There were quick and dirty ways of getting it done and in staying true I decided against it. I look back now and marvel at the things I found really tough a year ago, with time things like food photography, styling, flavour pairing and plating have started to come more naturally to me. From awkward angles of cupcakes on my kitchen counter to taking the time to study and test recipes, source props and train staff so my desserts can make it to customer’s plates in restaurants. I make a sincere attempt to juggle it all and just about manage several orders a month, chef’s events, the restaurant work, blogging, recipe testing and instagramming.
I’ve given this last one some real thought because there’s been so much debate surrounding Instagram and the kind of behaviour it seeks to promote. The staged and utterly curated lifestyle of people posting picture-perfect things to demonstrate how perfect their lives look right now. The need and desire to emulate and have everything everyone else has, just because it looks nice in a picture. Amid this controversy, I believe that when I quit my job and stopped chasing the money and promotions it gave me a new lease on life to not surround myself with materialistic things that Instagram or any other tool might lure me into having. I opted instead for new and beautiful experiences through people, travel and food. I would consciously learn to slow down, enjoy what we had, cultivate my skills and really take in life. Instagram for me was meant to be a platform to develop and showcase my baking skills. It was never about the senseless number chasing. Maybe I am doing it all wrong and haven’t quite figured how to monetize this yet but I got into this to bake and help people celebrate the joys of life everyday and that’s what I’m getting out of it.
XOXO, Peace of Bake