I gave up good because I wanted fucking awesome
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer.
I spent hours and even days holed up in my bedroom, either reading or writing - anything from kids stories, funny poems, and not so funny stuff. It’s all I wanted to do. I won competitions for my story writing and my army school teacher was adamant that she would one day see one of my books in a library. There were times throughout my childhood and teenage years where I wanted to be a vet, an olympic gymnast, an astronomer… but my dream of writing never left me. It’s remained a constant, part of my DNA, despite the comings and goings of various other passions.
I graduated with a Business Degree (because writing wasn’t a career path I ever thought to pursue, I don’t know why). I chose business because my ego wanted to wear a suit and heels and carry a briefcase, and careers advisors at college persuaded me that I’d have more options and increase my chances of actually getting a job if I took the sensible route. Man alive - the subjects covered in that degree bored me to tears, but I completed my 4 years nonetheless.
I joined a graduate scheme in 2003 with a large corporate IT recruitment company - it was the first job I was offered, and despite not knowing what the heck recruitment was or what it would entail, I had a huge amount of student debt and so got stuck in straight away. Long work hours and sheer doggedness paid off as I worked my way up from Trainee to Principal Consultant where I then led a team of consultants. Top of my game there, I left in 2008 to set up my first recruitment business with a colleague and friend, which I left 2 years later when I got married and was about to start a family. From the sale of my shares I was able to take a good bit of time off to spend with my two young boys. I later set up my second recruitment business, this time on my own, and working from home. I had some time out again when I welcomed my third boy, and then I returned to the business again. From then on I bust a bollock day in day out, juggling work and motherhood, simultaneously nurturing a small (but demanding) business and small humans.
Fast forward to 2017 and I found myself wholly and utterly exhausted, and not knowing who the hell I was anymore. The realisation that I’d actually been unhappy for a long time smacked me in the face and soon after, I reached breaking point and my marriage broke down which resulted in a temporary separation. Despite no longer enjoying my work, I knew I had no choice but to continue working, so I reached out to Girl Tribe Gang - a women's only collective for women who had, or who aspired to quit the 9-5. I hoped it would gee me up and help to re-ignite my ambition and passion for my recruitment business, which it did temporarily. I met some fabulous kick-ass women who were (are) totally inspirational, running varying businesses from PR companies and marketing agencies, to photography and catering businesses. They were (are) absolutely nailing the whole GirlBoss thing, and the passion they exuded when talking about their work really made me want what they had - a genuine and all consuming love for their business and for what they do.
It encouraged me to really question my career that spanned 15 years. It was GOOD. By good, I mean it satisfied my ego - I worked for myself, on my terms, I worked around my 3 boys, and it was financially very lucrative. But was that enough? No, if I was honest. Did I love it? No, I flipping hated it and I had done for years. Did it make my soul sing? No, it was sucking the life out of me. Did I jump out of bed on a morning, excited about the day ahead? Nope, I woke up with a heavy heart and a miserable outlook. Did I long to jump out of bed on a morning, exhilarated by something I was so passionate about? HELL YES!
During the separation, I really got to know myself, what I wanted, and what my dream life looked life. I went away to Prague for a weekend and it changed everything. I felt free. I was away from the business and the work that I'd begun to hate, and I was really seeing and feeling the beauty of the world out there, the endless possibilities. It felt incredible, and I knew then that I couldn’t go back to my old life.
When I returned to England I put my business on hold - I told my clients I was taking some time out, and I started up the blog. I kept saying to myself “if not now, when?” I knew this was my chance to start over and grab life by the big hairy knackers. A fresh start. A blank canvass. I had renewed energy and vigour and I felt like the world was my oyster! I also knew that if everything went Pete Tong, at least I’d had the guts to try, and that I would just have to swallow my pride and go back to my old job.
When I told people my plans, I got mixed responses - some were extremely supportive and encouraging (namely my new network of GirlBosses), others skeptical. “You must be crazy!” they said. “You’ve worked so hard... you’re business is so successful... you make great money… you’re your own boss… you work around school hours... look what you’ve built... what a waste...” they said, as I tried to explain why I was closing the door on a 15 year long career and a thriving business that I’d built up.
Success without happiness is not really success
My response: “Because I no longer love it. Because it’s causing me more anxiety and stress than it is joy. Because I hate Sunday nights and I dread Mondays. Because working so hard for something I no longer love is sapping the life out of me. Because my health and happiness is more important than money. Because success without happiness is not really success. Because if I’m miserable, my family are miserable. Because I want to jump out of bed on a morning, excited about my work. Because I want to LOVE what I do with all my heart and soul. Because I want to be genuinely and consistently happy. Because I want to be creatively fulfilled and be the very best version of me. Because I want to grab life by the balls and be brave enough to follow my dreams. Because if I die having never tried, I’ll be really bloody pissed off with myself.”
Choosing passion over paycheck
So now I wake up EXCITED about each and every day and I go to bed full of gratitude and satisfaction. I love weekends with my family but I also LOVE MONDAYS - something I never thought I’d hear myself say! I love what I do, and honestly I could do it 24/7 and never tire of it. The passion I feel for what I do courses through my veins and the fire in my belly burns ferociously. My soul is lit, I’ve got the sparkle in my eyes back, and I am on the road to becoming the best version of me, which is awesome not just for me, but for my husband and children too.
My boys are still young (4, 6 & 8) but I want to encourage them from an early age to follow their passions and dreams and never let anything stop them, whether they want to be astronauts or dairy farmers, brain surgeons or carpenters. I want them to grow up knowing that it’s more important to be happy and have a life full of meaning, than to do a job for money or status. I was 38 before I realised this!
I want to say to all the wonderful women out there who have perhaps forgotten their dreams or pushed aside their passions, it’s really not too late! Whether you want to retrain as a midwife, take a course in candle making or cake baking, set up your own digital agency or become a freelance photographer or style consultant - it’s never too late! You get one life - do what makes you joyful! What’s the worst that can happen? I believe the worst possible outcome is to have lived a life knowing you never did what you always wanted to do. To live, having never really 'lived'.
So yes, I gave up something good. Because good wasn’t good enough - I wanted fucking awesome! So I did it - I grabbed those big hairy knackers and I took a leap of faith, and I’ve not looked back!
And if I can do it, you most certainly can!
Much love, Fran xxx
ABOUT BOSSING IT!
BossingIt! aims to empower and inspire women to be strong and independent, and to illustrate that life is there for the taking and that YOU are in control of it. I want to encourage you to realise your potential, so you can grab life by the balls and carve out the life you wholeheartedly want to live, so you can feel joy and gratitude each and every day, and ultimately be the very best version of yourself. I want to share the belief that if you’re not 100% happy with any aspect of your life, be it work, relationships, parenting, health & fitness, or life in general, it’s never too late to change things or even start anew completely. Every day is a new opportunity to start over, to be who you want to be, and YOU get to write and rewrite your story!