Gaining independence from work you don’t want

Founding Mother, Chard & Stripes

I call October 10th my independence day: That was the day, in 2009, I left my job as a fed.

But unlike today—The Fourth of July—there were no fireworks on 10/10/09. Instead, my life began to read like a page from “Mexico after the Independence,” a short PDF by the U.K. Mexican Embassy:

The War of Independence cost [Mary-Elizabeth] a great deal. After gaining independence in [2009], the country (that she was unto herself) was left in a poor state. …

As a new country, [M-E] was struggling internally to achieve nationhood. The transformation from a colony (employee) to a self-governing country (entrepreneur) was…a [time] of strife and great change.

If an entrepreneur is someone who makes money while s/he sleeps, then I was (kinda) one.

How so?

Because I self-published a book after quitting my job and would wake up—on rare occasions—to an email saying that a copy had sold, which meant that money was waiting for me.

When I quit my job, I wasn’t dreaming about making money by a writing book (not that I really did anyway before I stopped selling it). I was dreaming about being my own boss and making a living doing work that I loved, at least most of the time.



My problem was I couldn’t quite see work I could love when I quit in 2009.

Ditto for the years 2010, 2011, 2012 and beyond, during which time I tried a hybrid employee-entrepreneur mix that never worked and put me in MAJOR tight spots.

But, …

“They” say that nine is the number of completion and learning to say “no.”

That sounds about right ‘cause it took me around nine years—nine years!—to get clear about Chard & Stripes and other work, and to rewire my brain and say “no” at my soul’s behest more than saying “yes” out of fear that I should take what I could get.

Understand this: I wasn’t confused for all those nine years, and…

I say that you can trust your soul and start saying “no” now.

In truth, I had some clear dreams when I quit my job:

Running a community center. Owning a fashion boutique. Doing greater good advertising.

I wasn’t willing to pick one like people will tell us, so I kept my dreams close and became stuck at the prospect of putting them together and pulling it all off, as a biologist turned federal analyst, no less.

And instead of hawking the skills I had to get work I wanted, I tinkered in isolation and waited to feel like I had more to offer. Big mistake. In one case, I waited years to approach a group I wanted to work with, only to find they would have taken me when I first found them.

In other words, my mind was my biggest stumbling block, and you can benefit from my mistakes.

I’ll dig into “how” another day, but for now…

Focus on what you want, not how to make it happen.

And here’s another suggestion:

Visit the Quick Picks Prosperity Page.

There, you can click to stories like Dealing with Rainy Workdays and Rethinking Tough Times.

And stay tuned because my workbook, “You Quit, Now What?: Questions to Get Clear About Work You Could Love,” is coming. Click here to subscribe to Chard Mail so you won’t miss a thing.

Dr. Mary-Elizabeth Harmon is a scientist turned storyteller and Founding Mother of Chard & Stripes, a “school” of prosperity making and word-of-mouth marketing platform for businesses in food, fashion and more. Subscribe to her weekly newsletter here.