By Romelda C. Ascutia
A little over a year ago, I took the biggest risk of my career: I decided to quit the corporate world and work on my own terms—as a freelance editor.
I wish I could say that it was a calculated risk, born of long planning and preparation. Truth is, it was a precipitous leap of faith during one of the lowest points in my life. I decided to leave a job I loved because after four years, it had turned into a nightmare parade of unending deadlines, long work hours, and nasty office politics.
The thought of diving immediately into a full-blown search for another full-time job filled me with aversion. So I gave myself a few months to scope out the freelance job market. If nothing happened, I could always look for a regular job again.
I was confident of my chances of finding project-based work quickly. Modesty aside, my credentials weren’t too shabby. Over the years I had held senior editor positions, such as managing editor or editor in chief, at a number of magazines. I also worked as a section editor at newspapers and as a content manager for a website. I wrote and edited books, columns, and various print materials.
But to my dismay, the projects didn’t come rushing my way—like a dog bounding to her mistress the minute she steps through the door—as I thought they would. Openings for home-based work posted on job search sites almost always entailed long hours at starvation rates. I snagged a regular monthly gig and some accounts here and there, but they weren’t enough to raise a family on.
As the months passed, my anxiety mounted. If the work inflow remained at a trickle, my savings would dry up! Fortunately, with fervent prayers and a fresh new year came a welcome change of pace.
Suddenly all my self-promotion efforts began paying off, and the projects came one after the other. A publisher asked me to manage her newly launched website. She then referred me to her former officemate, an overseas-based editorial manager looking for a freelance business writer (I knew nothing about world finance but somehow I passed the writing test). The sister of another colleague introduced me to a publisher who needed an editor for one of their school magazines.
I look back in amazement at the heart-stopping journey I made and where it has led me. Just last year I was clinging to a precipice, blindsided, struggling to climb back up or plunge into an abyss. Now I have found a work style that allowed me to practice my craft again, but without the pressures of office life.
What I’ve learned from my career crisis? Setbacks may knock you down, but a good work ethic, perseverance, and helping hands from Someone up there and friends who believe in you, will help you overcome. The trials that land you on your butt may be opportunities to start anew in disguise.