Huge Mistake or Best Decision Ever Made?

Posted: January 12, 2012 in Business, Lifestyle, Writing

The End of a Career and Making the Right Choices

On Sept. 27, 2011 I ended a career in the newspaper industry after six and a half years of employment. Let’s just say there were some professional differences of opinion of some management decisions and a certain situation was so poorly handled that it finally triggered my decision to part ways with the company. As the obituaries coordinator and an advertising sales rep, I basically sold advertising to funeral homes and handled all aspects of publishing obituaries for the region. Without boring you with the details of the actual job, while it wasn’t the most glamorous job to have, it was a job that I really enjoyed, particularly in dealing with my business clients (the funeral homes). And before you comment about how it must have been a dead-end job, how the people I worked with were a bunch of stiffs, and start chanting “Bring out your dead,” as an obituary writer, I always got the last word. 🙂

All jokes aside, there was a lot involved in publishing obituaries on a daily basis. There was the death verification process; writing and editing; photo scanning and editing; maintaining the daily death notices column (basically a list of recent deaths with funeral home contact information), keeping up with every visitation, prayer service, rosary, funeral and burial in a 13-county area and ensuring every one of them was published on the correct day with the correct times and locations; coordinating with the editorial department to determine space needed for obituaries; and designing obituary page(s) accordingly. On top of that there was the customer service (both for funeral homes and families of the deceased), payments and collections, selling advertising to funeral homes, (deep breath) and processing memoriam ads. Yeah, it was a lot of work, but I enjoyed it.

So, why did I leave a job that I obviously enjoyed? Since this is a public forum, I’ll answer that simply with personal reasons that many people can probably relate with when the stress level in certain aspects of the job (the professional differences of opinion…I’m being very kind there) just wasn’t worth dealing with anymore.

After leaving a company that I used to love working for and planned to retire from, I found myself unemployed and stepping into the unknown. I didn’t have another job lined up, and I spent several weeks trying to find that right job. Nothing appealed to me in this town. So, I decided to take the self-employment route.

Transitioning to Self-Employment

At the time of my departure from the newspaper, I had been working on building a home-based business (with plans on opening an office at some point in the near future) on a part-time basis. I had actually started this business venture back in 2004 with resume writing services, general small business office support (similar to outsourcing temp work), and Photo DVD production. It brought in some extra income, but I didn’t put a lot of effort into it back then. I ended up putting the business on the backburner after starting my career in the newspaper industry, but now I have decided it is time to seriously focus on my dream of small business ownership. I knew there was a lot of risk involved, a lot of trial and error, planning, and long hours of development. A friend and former manager of mine has also been building a small business since 2001 while working full-time as a human resources director. She is now self-employed and focusing 100% of her effort in building her own business. So, we are now helping each other out. I needed a regular small business client to get the small business office support services “department” off the ground, and she obviously needed the admin support. Over the past few months, things have been working very well with only minor hiccups. We have a great system going that works well for both of us. Just recently, one of my former customers from the newspaper contacted me about helping them with a project. They have a full staff, but they just didn’t have time to create all of the documents needed in house. So, they outsourced the job to me. Today I received word that the owner wants to discuss hiring me on a part-time basis. We have yet to discuss details.

So, transitioning from full-time traditional employment to self-employment hasn’t been easy and has been a bit worrisome at times, and there have been times where I thought I made a huge mistake by quitting my job. However, while I still miss my old job and my customers, the “pros” of self-employment have far outweighed the “cons” at this point of the transition. The obvious negative aspect of resigning from my position at the newspaper is the steady paycheck. While the pay wasn’t great, it wasn’t bad either…not to mention benefits (which, to tell the truth, weren’t all that great anyway). However, the steady paycheck issue may soon be resolved to some degree if everything pans out well with the part-time opportunity I mentioned earlier.

What I have most enjoyed from self-employment has been the fact that I’m the boss (although, I can be a bit of a slave driver sometimes…I worked on a project until 2 a.m. last night!) and determine my work schedule and have a lot more flexibility in prioritizing and managing projects. If I decide I want to work in the evening, so I can take care of other things during the day, I can…all while still meeting any project deadlines. Working on my terms and not having to answer to someone else’s opinion of how they think my job should be done (or even as far as treating me like I don’t have a brain) has reduced my negative stress level to near zero. That alone has been worth it!

More Time for Writing

I think one of the most significant things that has occurred ever since I quit my full-time job at the newspaper is that because my stress level has reached much healthier levels, I have been able to focus more on writing. My participation in #WIP500 has been very successful so far with over 11,000 words written in my current work-in-progress (WIP). Granted these words may not be the greatest, but the story is unfolding at a nice pace. My focus is to just get the story written and then go back to polish it up, rewrite and cut out the unnecessary fat where needed.

It feels great to be writing again and I truly believe that 2012 is going to be the best year I’ve had in a long time. I’m not talking about financially, either. I am a firm believer that money can’t buy happiness and that you can be in a job that pays well, has great benefits, but if you’re not happy, then it’s probably time to rethink your priorities. I would much rather earn less and live comfortably, than be rich, stressed out and miserable. Obviously you need money to pay the bills, and the social aspect of many jobs is important too (one thing I do miss from the traditional ball-and-chain job), so I’m not saying quit your job and become a hermit. What I am saying is that if you aren’t happy with your job, if you have the means to explore other options that will make you happy, I say the least you can do is consider it. If you have a great idea for a business that you believe has a customer base in your area, do the research, and go for it!

That goes for writing, too! If you have a story that has been floating around your head for millennia, it’s not going to write itself. Just do it! Don’t worry about whether or not you think people will buy it or not. If selling the books is your main motivation for writing, then you are writing for the wrong reason.

This brings up another topic, which I will write about in next week’s post: “Why I am a Writer…”

I hope to see you there and thanks for taking the time to read my post. Cheers!

Update: It’s now the middle of 2013 and business has been doing well and throughout 2012 I worked on my first horror-thriller Devil’s Nightmare which I published in January 2013. Leaving my traditional job was definitely the best decision I ever made. 

SCRATCH LINE

Profile Photo (Cropped)Robert “Sharky” Pruneda is a native Texan, video game “enthusiast” [addict], and fan of all things horror. He left a career in the newspaper industry in 2011 to pursue the life of a nocturnal author, brainstorming new and creative ways to creep out his readers. He doesn’t only write horror though. He also pens the occasional family-oriented tale just to keep from going completely nuts with all those creatures of the night whispering in his ears. When he’s not pulling ideas out of his twisted brain, you’ll likely find him on social media or fighting alongside his fellow gaming buddies where they all get shot up into Swiss cheese (or turned into little bite-sized chunks because of “Sharky’s” obsession with explosives). Medic!

Pursue your dreams . . . and never look back.

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Comments
  1. princetta64 says:

    Best decision EVER:)

    Like

    • I agree. Every time I hear friends complain about their jobs and how poorly they are treated I think about my decision to leave the traditional work force. The pay stinks compared to what I was making before, but my stress level is WAY DOWN. I certainly don’t miss the office politics.

      Like

  2. Dawn Miller says:

    Sharky, I enjoyed your post. I left teaching to stay home with my children and concentrate on my writing. Funny thing is I work more now than I ever did in a classroom. Still working on “That Thing You Do” moment with writing, but I keep the faith. Best of look to you!

    Dawn

    Like

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Dawn! I know what you mean about “working more now than ever”! I’m self-employed now and I can’t remember when I’ve had a full day off lately. I love it though! Plus, I have a lot more time to write… that is when I manage my schedule properly. 🙂

      Cheers!

      Rob

      Like

  3. Hey Shark. Love the post. It alway seems to me when I have made life changes things work out for the best. You may not think so at the time but later you see that when one door closes another one opens. I am at the crossroads now as well. Getting married next month. Third time. My debut novel came out in April.. And I am retiring in November. All good things and stay tuned for what may come next. Good to see you here and have a great day.
    http://characterswellmet.blogspot.com

    Like

  4. […] What is your greatest regret? If you would have asked me this question the afternoon of September 27, 2011, I probably would have said quitting my job at the newspaper would have been my greatest regret because I absolutely loved my job there. Unfortunately a change of management and transition to a micro-management style of leadership (among other things) led me to resigning. I have since realized it was probably the best decision I have ever made in my life. I wrote a blog post about it HERE. […]

    Like

  5. danniehill says:

    The Shark has entered the pool! Every big change is replete with worries but every one I’ve been through has a reward and it’s always a step forward in life.

    I wish you great success with your new career and your writing. You are a very good writer, Rob! You’ll do great in everything you do!

    Like

    • Thank you, Dannie, for both the kind compliment and good wishes in my small business venture. I’ve received a lot of support with my decision (even from family). My dad, in particular, has been cheering me on and given me a lot of encouragement. He knew how much I was frustrated with the way things were going at work and has been my biggest supporter.

      I look forward to reading what you have in store for us next on your blog.

      Cheers!

      Like

  6. Albert Hewett says:

    I myself have noticed a much different Sharky. You have more time to visit where before your schedual was too tight and forebearing for anything else. I’m glad for you and wish you the very best of success, Albert (GenThunder)

    Like

    • Yes, that is very true. Even when I did have the time to attempt somewhat of a social life outside of work, I was so emotionally drained that I just wanted to stay home and vegetate. Things have certainly changed, though. It’s too bad we weren’t able to get that online match of C&C: Generals working. I guess we’ll have to team up against the computer again the old fashioned way via LAN Network.

      Gen. Lightning

      Like

  7. eden baylee says:

    I can relate, honey. I quit my 20 year banking job due to unhappiness with the work. I probably should have done it 2 years earlier, but I try not to look back. I did it to become a full time writer, knowing how difficult that could be financially for all the reasons you mentioned.
    i don’t regret it one second. I loved the people I worked with and still connect with them, but the job was killing me.

    My greatest fear is to look back at the end of my days and say, “I should have…” By pursuing my passion, I know I will never say that, regardless of whether I make it as a writer.

    It sounds like you made the right choice to me. I’m sure it wasn’t easy when you were going through it, but it takes courage to step away from the security of a job. I’m excited for you and this next stage of your life — it’s an adventure and it’s yours to create.

    xoxo
    eden

    Like

    • Thanks, Eden. Quitting my job felt like jumping out of a plane with no parachute. I just bought a brand new car last year (finally traded in my 11-year-old Pontiac). So considering I had a car payment, among other bills, with no other steady job lined up, you can imagine how it felt. But then again, as a full-time writer, you know exactly how it feels to quit a steady job and venture into the unknown. I believe it was the right decision, though, and I know everything is going to work out just fine or even better than expected.

      Here’s to a successful 2012.

      Cheers!

      Like

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