your road...

"Hold the phone! You mean I can do any job I want!?!?"

I sometimes get emails from people who read my blog and although most of them are photography related.. some are a bit more general and are maybe about bigger things.  I received an email last month that got me thinking and I thought it might be nice to actually share it on the blog this time..

I really hope you don't mind me sending you this email.  This is going to sound odd but I am at a bit of a crossroads at the moment and something keeps telling me it's your advice I should be asking?!

Since the husband to be and I first got together we have been steadily building our business.  I am currently working 20 hrs in a part time job I hate and we're considering the possibility of going 'shit or bust' and throwing everything we've got at the self employed work.

My husband to be has been a self employed teacher for over 20 years but the idea of not having a 'wage' or knowing what's coming in each month scares the pants off me.  See everyone in my life has a 'job' and so can't really help me break out of the fear of working for myself.  How did you feel?  Is it as scary as it feels?  Is it worth it?  I feel like I'm holding myself back by playing it safe and it's making me miserable.  I know it's a different field (although still creative) but do you have any advice about starting out and how to give myself the confidence to back myself? Maybe just hearing your 'starting out' story could inspire me..

Funnily enough we tend to get asked this question quite a lot as there seems to be quite a few people in a similar situation.. with a career they don't love, a path they didn't really choose and now too much security to risk...

I'm not sure I can tell you exactly what the answer is as I don't know the ins and outs of your financial situation but for our situation, I'll be honest.. it wasn't too much of a sacrifice in the first place,  Pete was in full time work (not really a career) and I was Acting.. so was self employed already, in and out of Acting work, used to finding in-between jobs and used to not having much money.  So when the photography started.. yes it was extremely hard to start with nothing but at the same time I wasn't giving up a safety net.. I had nothing to lose.  

Having said that.. the reason I had nothing to lose was because since the very beginning I have chosen my passion over that security.  A job that I love over that decently paid, steady job.  I just knew from the start that I couldn't just make do.  I've had brief periods in my life where I have been employed.. 6 months, a year.. but it's just not in my make up.  I had to take my own road.

So I can't really give advice on giving up a successful, safe career/job to do the thing you love.. BUT what I will say is that if you're unhappy now.. I am pretty sure that this will get worse not better.  Realistically you could spend the next 6 months.. or even the next 3 years deliberating this decision and in that time you could have focused on saving a little to give yourself a buffer for when you both decide to take the leap.  When you do you'll probably find yourself with too much work and wonder how you ever fitted any other job in ever.  And when you work for yourself opportunities present themselves if you let them.. you network.. word of mouth.. social media.. all these things help to keep the work coming in.. 

As far as other people go.. it really doesn't matter if everyone around you has a 'job'.. actually what you'll probably find is that everyone will be really interested in the fact you work for yourself doing something creative and can often be quite envious that you're following your dream and making it work.  

I'm not going to lie.. you'll work harder than you've ever worked.  You'll care more than you've ever cared.. and some of the time you'll be making it up as you go along.... BUT what I can tell you is that this road we're on is an incredible one and worth it a million times over.


  1. It's weird how my friends and I were having a similar conversation last night, only it was about university degrees and such. And I think you have helped me see why I have not taken their advice just yet, the idea that I am in too much security with what I am studying at the moment to actually take a risk and do what I want.

    It seems such a hard thing to think about let alone do, what with this choice not being 100% my own and not having the people that actually understand that getting a 'job' isn't the main focus of it all. So much so, that what I want to do has fallen by the wayside and I no longer truly know what it is. Sigh. Often feels like I'm going round in endless circles.

    And thank you for the words of advice, it really is inspirational to see people who know what they want and taking the steps to doing it. I'm sure I'll find the answer soon. :)

  2. Emma, your advice is great and like Bene says above, I always feel the right paths appear when you are ready for them. I gave up a successful career to work, less hours, run my own business and be more creative. I work more hours than ever, but now I do it for me. I had a little financial security from the previous career and although I don't earn as much now, I have a better life. My friends who couldn't give up their security, now look to what I am doing. I never thought it would inspire them. It is tough, it is fab and I wouldn't change the decision. It was right for me at the time and I hope you find your right decision x

  3. Well said Emma, it's a rollercoaster, scary but so enjoyable it just makes you want to keep going again and again! Tx