An Office Escapee story: Gemma goes from Consultant to Life Coach
What was the trigger that made you want to stop being in an office & what was the moment you realised you could not be in an office anymore?
The trigger was my first two week holiday from the office after more than a year in a new job. These two week holidays are dangerous! It gave me a real opportunity to reflect on my deepest desires and dreams for my life. Although I didn’t make any decisions during the break, it was the beginning for me. That was almost a year ago now and since then I have left my job and co-founded a team development and coaching business.
I remember the moment when I made my decision to leave. It came after a conversation with a senior leader in the organisation I was working in at the time. In that moment, I had such clarity on the compromises that I was making to fit into a dream that wasn’t mine. So what did I do? Popped into King’s Cross champagne bar, had a glass of champagne and celebrated! Waking up to your own exciting adventure is worth a glass of champagne! It took me another 4 months before I left the organisation because I had some plans to make but my time came!
How did you plan to escape, what steps did you take?
I knew I wanted to set up my own coaching business so I finished my certification process and continued to save a large portion of my monthly salary. Setting up your own business can take some time so I wanted as much funds in reserve as possible. I also took my time to meet people who had done something similar and asked for their advice. It meant that I had a strong network by the time I left.
How did you resign, did you have a notice period, and what was your resignation process like?
I wrote my resignation letter. I then went and spoke to a number of key leaders in my organisation to let them know. I was on a 3 month notice period but negotiated a much shorter period because the project I was working on was coming to an end. The resignation process itself was easy but I was nervous to have the conversations. It can be hard to share your reasons for leaving and not everyone will understand. The most important thing is that you have done your thinking well and have two or three key people in your life who understand and will be there to celebrate with you.
What are the biggest challenges in not being in an office daily, do you miss anything?
There’s not much that I miss. When I need to be around other people, I will give my business partner a call, or meet up with another self-employed friend. Sometimes, I’ll just change my working environment and take my laptop to a local coffee shop for a few hours. The most important thing is to be aware of my own internal motivation and finding my own rhythm. “Work hours” are much less defined – some of my most creative moments are when I am travelling on the underground listening to my iPod!
What are the greatest things about not being in an office? What have you achieved since leaving?
I work much more flexible hours now and am much more conscious of doing my work from a place of inspiration and motivation rather than guilt or a need to fit someone else’s hours. I set my own vision and goals and really the sky’s the limit! If I have a vision to create something, there’s no one to stand in my way but myself.
Since leaving I have launched my business in both the UK and Canada. We have won some work with a professional services company based in London, designing a series of experiential leadership development workshops for their women’s network. We are pursuing a number of leads for team coaching and I am also in the process of building my own one-to-one coaching practice. So it is all systems go!