Whoa. Just whoa. It has been a little over a month since I took the giant leap that was leaving my job of five years to start my own company. Despite giving myself three months to prepare for this incredible life shift, I am still getting my head around such a dramatic change. It probably has something to do with the fact that my husband and I also bought a house and moved the last week of my job, but hey, I wanted to go big AND go home. Although I love to be in control, I am also not one to shy away from change. After talking with so many of my incredible friends and mentors, I knew that I had what it takes to go out on my own. The idea of such a big new adventure called to me like a siren of wanderlust so many of us temper.

Compared to most people, many of my jobs have given me incredible opportunities to indulge in unique and interesting experiences on a regular basis. But the position you are in when you start with an organization and the one you find yourself in years later are often in stark contrast. I repeatedly found myself getting to the top of the ladder at organizations, looking down at the trenches, and missing the feeling of the soil between my toes. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good spreadsheet and creative writing is a passion, but my spirit is replenished in moments of real connection. Working with other industrious people, solving complex problems, building things, overcoming challenges, sharing ideas, and traveling to new places. All of this brings me to the present, which has been a hilariously fast crash course on life on the other side of the fence where people work for themselves.

As someone who has worked with hundreds of small business owners, I knew the grass would not be greener, but damn I did not realize how much I would still have to mow the lawn. 

I was prepared for hard work and the initial adjustment that comes with growing anything new but I somehow imagined it would still involve more yoga and naps. Needless to say, I don’t even know where my yoga mat is- probably somewhere in a box I have yet to unpack. I also have not even gotten around to ordering business cards, attending networking events, or posting on my blog (as evident here). Let me assure you, these are good signs because it means that I am busy. Despite many people assuming if my husband was “supporting me during my time-off” I can assure you that a.) I am not on vacation and b.) we are still very much a two income household. Thankfully, I have several clients that were excited to bring me onto their team. In the last few weeks, I have conducted program evaluations, written grants, helped create marketing materials, and provided general program support. I am already learning from mistakes that come with starting a new business but it feels good to know that these are lessons that will allow to me grow with confidence as a business owner. Outside of consulting, I have also had the pleasure of working with my talented friends to help as a second shooter at a wedding and with a garden installation. In coming months I will also be freelance writing and guest speaking at conferences. The work is interesting, challenging, and dynamic and I was able to decide what projects I said yes to and when I chose to tackle them.

Perhaps most importantly, my time is my own.


 In between work tasks I dig around in my garden barefoot, roll around with the dogs, take nature pictures, cook meals, and spend as many moments as possible with my fantastic husband. I work when I know I will be at my best and take time for rejuvenation when I am not. I may not be doing yoga every morning and making my lotion from scratch but I already feel an incredible sense of liberation from this transition. While I love my clients… their missions, budgets, programs, and employees can stay safely tucked away when my computer is shut down. I am learning how to slow down.

As it has been for the last ten years, my life will no longer be built around my job but instead my job will be built around my life.

My head and heart are open and ready for new ideas, direction, and opportunity. The next few months are a wonderful blend of contract work and visits with loved ones. I hope to schedule enough clients in 2017 to continue this journey on my own. But even if working for myself does not work out, I know that in the best possible way, this change in perspective cannot be undone. Sometimes it takes the visceral experience of looking into the unknown and taking a leap to really make a permanent change in our lives. The beautiful part of this process is that I know I am not alone and for that, I am most thankful.


Written by Nikki Seibert Kelley