by Suzzanne Siegel
Everyone, at some point in their life, has second-guessed a choice or decision. Was it the right move? Was it made after thoughtful contemplation or a knee-jerk reaction to a stressful situation? For some of us, constantly rethinking our ideas or actions has become the “norm” and many of us are plagued with anxiety because of it.
Career decisions are often the most difficult to make, especially when they involve a total change into a brand new profession. Our ever-changing economy has prompted many of us to start our own businesses and become our own boss. One of the greatest of American dreams is to work for yourself—to be able to “call the shots” about when and where you work—and with whom you work. But, are we ever really our own boss?
A great surprise to many entrepreneurs is the realization that self-employment may remove the one “boss” you used to work for and has replaced them with dozens (or sometimes hundreds) of new bosses, known as “customers”—and as we all know, “the Customer is always right.”
While it’s still incredibly satisfying to be self-employed, undoubtedly the element that gives you the most anxiety is making—and keeping—your customers happy. Anyone who’s ever worked for themselves knows the frustration of difficult clients.
So, you often find yourself asking, “WHY in the world am I doing this???” The answer to this question is simple: it’s when you meet those certain people who become your angels of inspiration.
A perfect example of an inspiring angel is Long Island’s Helene Lefkowitz, who has been an avid and faithful Natural Awakenings Long Island reader since it began publishing in 2008. “Helene is an incredible source of inspiration to me,” says publisher Kelly Martinsen. “On those frustrating days when I feel like throwing up my hands and quitting—wondering if I made the right decision to leave my corporate job and become a magazine publisher—as if by divine providence, Helene will call me at that precise moment to compliment me on this publication. That makes everything worthwhile.”
I too, am self-employed, and just like Kelly, have frequently banged my head against my desk and chanted “why, why, why?” In my case, it’s usually when I’m still working at 3a.m. trying to meet an early morning deadline.
After working many years in corporate marketing, putting in some extreme overtime, I finally made the decision to strike out on my own and become a free-lance graphic designer. At the time, it was an easy decision; I was married and could count on my husband to provide certain luxuries such as health insurance through his employer. Working from our home gave me the opportunity to easily accomplish household tasks during the day, rather than coming home to a huge pile of laundry after staring at my computer for 14 hours. Not to mention the absence of rush hour traffic stress. I thought I had finally been able to create the perfect job for myself.
Unfortunately, a few years later, a divorce created a whole new set of stresses, including having to now be 100% responsible for myself and all things financial. This was absolutely terrifying.
I’ve always believed in my Guardian Angel—I know he’s there watching over me. In the midst of tears, wondering how I’d be able to survive alone in the world, it was then I realized that, had I not had a business that was portable (working at home means you can live absolutely anywhere there’s an internet connection), I wouldn’t have been able to relocate back to my hometown and surround myself with all of my old friends, thus helping me through this trying time.
My angel also came in the form of my customers (the five Natural Awakenings publishers that I work with), who were beyond patient during my troubles and routinely reminded me that I was good at my job.
I still sometimes question my decision to remain self-employed—mostly when I’m worried about money—then at that very moment a friend will call asking if I have time to take on a new client, because they know someone who needs my services. It’s almost magical the way this works out.
All of us have these angels—in one form or another. Whether it’s an unexpected financial windfall, a sudden sense of kismet or the best angel of all: a ‘thank you’ from someone you’ve helped. These are inspirations that keep you going in your everyday routine and help you realize how lucky you really are.
Suzzanne Siegel is a freelance graphic designer and part time writer living in St. Petersburg, Florida. Connect at SMSiegel@DistinctiveGrafix.com.