After 18 years of big corporate jobs, I took the plunge and became an entrepreneur. I knew life and work would be very different. Now, after 6 months, I’ve found there are a few things that I absolutely love about my new work-life mix that I didn’t anticipate. In retrospect, most of these things were attainable in my old jobs – I just didn’t know how much better they make my day.
Here’s the good news - you don’t need to change your job and start your own business to enjoy most of these things. You just need to change your perspective a little.
Working from Everywhere
You’ve probably heard that “variety is the spice of life.” This is so true for me when it comes to where I physically work.
- BEFORE: Most of my jobs had me going into the same office every day. Yes, I travelled some. Yes, I’d be in and out of meetings in different conference rooms all day. But mostly I was in the same physical space day after day.
- NOW: Technically, I work from home. I love my office - it has huge windows, my puppy has a little bed, I’m close to the kitchen for coffee and tea breaks, and it’s quiet after the kids leave for school. But honestly, what I enjoy the most, is the variety of other places I get to work throughout my week. I’ve visited almost every coffee shop and Panera in greater Cleveland. I’m on-site with clients. I’ve rediscovered libraries. I’ve taken more than one call from my car in a random parking lot.
Fresh surroundings can inspire fresh thinking. So, shake it up once in a while—have a team meeting at off site, try a walking meeting at a nearby park or actually get out of the office for lunch.
Meeting Nice People
I have met more amazing people in the past six months than I did in the prior six YEARS. As an entrepreneur I need to cultivate a very different network. What I didn’t know is how fun it would be to do.
- BEFORE: I worked in large organizations and was always busy. It was easy to spend all my time interacting just with the people I needed to get things done. Sometimes this included outside consultants, but most of my time was spent with a relatively small group of internal co-workers.
- NOW: I’m meeting new people every week – and truly enjoying it. It might be a mid-west/Cleveland thing, but I have been touched by how friendly and willing to help most people are. They take the time to listen, they connect you to others who can help and they share good ideas.
The world is full of interesting and helpful people. Make room in your day to branch out and meet them – it is so worth the time.
Having Comfortable Feet
I’m 12% happier because I now have comfortable feet most of the time. Ok, that statistic is totally made up. But I now know that because of my high-heels, I was in pain all day - every day, and being in pain was stressful.
- BEFORE: My last corporate job had a business formal dress code with the occasional business casual day thrown in for morale. The unwritten rule for women was that flats were for business casual days only. My heel heights were conservative (mostly) but my feet hurt constantly. There were evenings that it felt like the bones of my feet were breaking and nights that I had foot cramps that would not go away.
- NOW: Most of my clients and meetings are casual to business casual. When I’m out and about, I’m mostly in flats or boots. When I’m home, it’s all slippers and fluffy socks – HEAVEN.
Body, mind and mood are all intertwined. Consider whether there are small changes you can make to take better care of yourself and be more comfortable.
Getting More Sunshine and Fresh Air
Getting outside has always been how I recharge. But with long work days and busy evenings, it always had to wait for the weekend.
- BEFORE: I shuffled from home to car to office and back again.
- NOW: Now that I have dog co-workers, I end up taking them out pretty often. These little doses of sunshine and fresh air throughout the day make me so happy. It’s easy to pop out back to play with the dogs, have a quick cup of coffee on the back deck, take a walk around the neighborhood, or even stroll to the mailbox extra slowly.
If getting outside boosts your mood and clears your head, find ways to sneak it into your day. It is definitely something I could have done in my past jobs if I had made the effort.
Seeing My Puppy’s Face All Day
I’ve always thought the whole “bring your dog to work” thing was a gimmicky to make offices seem cooler.
- BEFORE: Every office I worked in was completely pet free.
- NOW: I share the days I work at home with two dogs and two cats. Their cute faces and ridiculous antics make me laugh. Their need for attention gets me out of my seat. And just looking at their cute faces all day really does make me happier. They do bark and wrestle at inopportune times but chasing them out of my office is a nice, quick aerobic workout.
If your office doesn’t allow dogs, I suggest bringing in pictures, getting a dog nanny-cam or boring your co-workers with pet stories. All would be fun ways to bring the stress-relief of your pet companions into your workplace.
Perhaps the biggest learning for me is that small changes have a big impact on my overall happiness and well-being. So why not pause and give something new a try because, in the words of Ferris Bueller,
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
Elizabeth is the Co-Founder of Nimble Consulting Services where she drives overall business strategy and leads the HR and professional development practice area. In her spare time, Elizabeth is a happy wife and a mom to three amazing people who keep her humble every day.