The Only Walls That Hold You Back


Guys, I have a confession to make. This weekend, I had a bit of a dramatic meltdown. There were tears, there was some listless lying around starting at the wall, there were some thoughts about making a blanket fort, moving in, and never coming back out.

Nothing terrible happened. In fact, it was really the opposite: my side business continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Everything has happened so incredibly quickly – I only started trying to make money in November of last year – that I didn’t realize I had established and built a legitimate venture until I realized the prospect of full-time work was staring me straight in the face.

Of course, that’s not what triggered a freakout session. It was the fact that I already have full-time work, via what one of my clients jokingly refers to as my “big girl job.”

I was feeling both frustrated that I couldn’t immediately drop that big girl job, and terrified by the thought of actually getting to drop the role of employee and fully take on the role of entrepreneur.

I’ve been working hard for months with the intention of maintaining both my 9 to 5 day job with my business for as long as possible. And I was terrified to realize that “as long as possible” is no longer some vague, too-distant-to-be-firmly-defined point in the future I continually referred to as someday.

It’s, you know, now.

Or it realistically could be, anyway. I’m still wanting to maintain both as long as possible for several reasons, the biggest being I want to make absolutely sure the business I have created is sustainable and the real deal – versus a flash-in-the-pan type thing. I also want to shore up our cash savings before making the leap to full-time self-employment, so if things go way far south we’ll be okay for a little while until work picks back up or until I can go back to being an employee if that’s what needs to happen to make sure we continue to stay financially afloat.

So there were lots of emotions jumping around vying for attention, and instead of taking a deep breath and just dealing with one thing at a time, I turned to my usual coping mechanism: shut down, freak out, get even more emotional about all the things.

But what followed was lots of talking with my support group – my husband, a few close friends, my parents. That, in turn, allowed me to clear out my crazies, refocus, and start planning. No sense in worrying or stressing. The only thing to do is to make it happen.

The only thing to do when you're facing a challenge is to make it happen - and to remember the only walls that hold you back are the ones you build yourself.I need to continue to refine my time management and my productivity. I need to prioritize the tasks that are important to me and eliminate the stuff that doesn’t offer me the happiness and value it should for the precious time I’m exchanging for it. I need to understand that the days of working 12 to 15 hour days are temporary (and that some people still manage to work even more hours than that, and their situations are not always temporary). I need to stop allowing my current 9 to 5 to frustrate the heck outta me and just calmly work through what I absolutely have to there as I appreciate the fact that it’s offering me benefits that only come from an employer.

I also need to remember that the only walls that hold me back are the ones I build myself. Impossible is nothing.

What challenges are you currently facing – financially or otherwise – that you’re working to overcome?


36 Responses

  1. Tonya@Budget and the Beach

    April 28, 2014 3:33 pm

    Freelancing is not something to be taken lightly, and there is a good reason you are giving it a lot of thought and preparation. I think once you are prepared enough emotionally and financially, the first few months are a big change, but you will probably really like it. I would imagine it’s a lot easier with a spouse who you can possible lean on in times of trouble if that happens. That’s where I feel the weight of being a freelancer. It’s stressful to know it’s just me and only me if the shit hits the fan. I worry about having enough money ALL THE TIME! That’s what stressed me out the most. But I think you’ll be in a much better situation than I was going into freelancing.

    • Kali Hawlk

      April 29, 2014 9:50 am

      Thanks Tonya! :D I do think it’s easier having a spouse, especially a spouse that is working a “traditional” job in the sense that they pull in a regular, consistent paycheck. I’m grateful for that – and even more impressed by the amazing ladies like yourself who don’t have that to fall back on!

      I think I’m prepared, as well, but while I can manage both freelancing and being an employee, there’s no reason not to continue building up the financial safety net and hanging on to things like cheaper health insurance and an employer match in my retirement plan.

  2. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life

    April 28, 2014 4:02 pm

    I’ve seen a similar explosion in my freelance work and business and it is absolutely overwhelming, and simultaneously crazy exciting. I honestly don’t know how you do it with a full time job. I think time management is going to become the most valuable skill from here on out.

    • Kali Hawlk

      April 29, 2014 9:52 am

      Couldn’t have put my feelings into words better than that – that’s exactly how I feel! It’s definitely difficult to manage with a full-time job, but I know there are people out there who balance even more than I have to. I only have cats, not kids, and I try to be appreciative of the fact that the level of responsibility I have in regards to caring for other people is next to none. My husband has made things easier as well. I probably would never remember to eat dinner, but he always cooks it for me and brings it to my office. He’s made a huge difference in helping me in all sorts of supportive ways like that!

  3. Shannon @ Financially Blonde

    April 28, 2014 4:20 pm

    I agree that we are our own worst enemies sometimes when it comes to taking a leap. However, I agree with your strategy of being extra cautious because it is definitely a big leap you are considering and when it comes to major life decisions, I don’t think we can ever “overthink” them enough.

    • Kali Hawlk

      April 29, 2014 10:03 am

      Thanks Shannon :) It’s so tempting to just jump in feet first, but I know the smarter thing to do is to hang on to that 9 to 5 as long as I can. It’s going to be more beneficial financially, and by trying to squeak out a few more months I’m going to have a better understanding of how sustainable my own work is.

  4. KK @ Student Debt Survivor

    April 28, 2014 4:22 pm

    ” my usual coping mechanism: shut down, freak out, get even more emotional about all the things.” You and I have the same coping mechanism ;-) Thankfully, I also have a good group of friends and family who can set me straight. Sometimes I feel like I deal with other peoples’ problems better than my own, I guess that’s why I chose to be a social worker. Right now we’re thinking about selling our place and moving to the suburbs. Although it’s a happy move there’s a lot involved and it definitely causes me stress trying to figure out if it’s the right move, how much it will cost to buy a new place, move etc. Add on top of that add a longer commute and I’m all out of sorts :-)

    • Kali Hawlk

      April 29, 2014 10:04 am

      I’m glad someone can understand and relate! :D A move is certainly stressful, even when it’s happy – like you said, there’s a lot involved, a lot to think about, and a lot of decision to be made! Keep us up to date on how things are going. I hope everything works out smoothly and just as you want it, girl!

  5. E.M.

    April 28, 2014 5:00 pm

    I am right there with you and KK. When we moved, I definitely freaked out. It’s what we’ve been wanting for so long, but it became a reality so quickly that it felt like a dream. I plan on writing a post about the aftermath, but my emotions are varying a lot these days. I feel lazy/worthless being unemployed; I want to try freelancing, but I have no clue where to start, and regret not trying sooner (before the move); I’m nervous about finding an actual job, because I don’t want it to be another mistake on my resume. At the least, I’m glad to have a supportive boyfriend who isn’t pressuring me into anything.

    I admire you a lot, though! You’ve worked so hard and you deserve to say good-bye to your job, but I completely understand wanting to have the savings to give you peace of mind. I don’t doubt that you’ll be very successful; I enjoy reading everything you write!

    • Kali Hawlk

      April 29, 2014 10:05 am

      I know exactly what you mean, E.M.! It feels so silly to be stressed about something we want and that happened really fast for us, but because it DID happen fast, it’s hard to cope and adjust at the same rate. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need anything re: freelancing. I’m not an expert by any means but I’m happy to help as you’re getting started if I can!

      And thanks very very much for the kind and encouraging words. Gives me the warm fuzzies!

  6. Michelle

    April 28, 2014 5:33 pm

    Girl, I totally understand. I am so thankful that I am taking the next three months to slowly transition from full to part time at my job so that freelancing and my resume writing service can grow with me. I totally recommend it if you can swing it!

    • Kali Hawlk

      April 29, 2014 10:07 am

      That’s certainly the plan – keep working both full-time as long as possible, and then start a slow transition out of my 9 to 5. I’ll likely have to train someone to replace me, so I’m pretty sure part-time hours like I want are going to be guaranteed (in my position, they can’t really just have me put in a 2 weeks and then be out). But that is something I need to factor into the overall timeline. I need to time things so that I don’t run right up to my breaking point, because I’ll still be obligated to work as an employee at least part-time after I officially decide to quit.

  7. anna

    April 28, 2014 9:08 pm

    Sorry to hear about your little freak out moments – it happens to all of us, I’m thinking, in some sort of form or another, so you’re not alone. For what it’s worth, looking from the outside in, you’ve grown phenomenally and exponentially these past few months, so I’m sure it will all come together soon. Have faith, Kali, we have faith in you! :)

  8. Dee @ Color Me Frugal

    April 28, 2014 10:27 pm

    I hear you girl. I’ve also been feeling the frustration of feeling burned out at my day job, which sometimes either makes it hard to write or makes me feel like I’ve been sapped of my creative juices. It’s hard to do both at once. I’m hoping that, as they say, “this too shall pass!” Best of luck to you!

    • Kali Hawlk

      April 29, 2014 10:27 am

      Thanks so much Dee. I appreciate the kind and encouraging words! I’m definitely at the point where I need to frequently remind myself it’s a temporary thing, that it will all pay off here shortly :)

  9. Connie @ Savvy With Saving

    April 28, 2014 11:14 pm

    I totally get how you feel. The number one thing that holds me back is fear. I’m always thinking about the what ifs – what if I take time off to travel? what if I can’t find another job? And then, after my moments of paranoia, I realize that I’ll be OK. I’ve put myself in a stable situation financially so why shouldn’t I enjoy it? Someone gave me a great piece of advice once – take risks while you don’t have much to risk. While I’m not ready to take a risk right this second, I think I will be soon :)

    • Kali Hawlk

      April 29, 2014 10:57 am

      Thanks Connie! I feel like we are totally on the same wavelength here.. I have the exact same thought of, “what if I can’t find another job?” if I do quit to try my own thing and it doesn’t work out. I’m not trying to be negative – just aware of ALL possibilities so I know I have a course of action if things go wrong. But when I do answer that with, “well, I’ll actually be more likely to get a job as an employee that I enjoy if I return to the job market with all these new skills running this business has allowed me to build,” that paranoia kind of subsides for a while.

      I think whoever told you that about risk was a smart cookie and was on to something! I think that goes hand-in-hand with the advice to think of the worst-case scenario for an action.. so that you can realize that, for most things, the worst-case scenario is totally something you can deal with and recover from. Plus, great risk leads to great reward/without taking a few risks, we’re never going to progress and move forward.

  10. DC @ Young Adult Money

    April 29, 2014 7:37 am

    Congrats on coming so far as an entrepreneur! The fact that it’s realistic to quit your 9-5 in the near future (or now) is a huge accomplishment. I’ve been running my blog on top of my full-time job for almost 2 years now and it’s definitely been challenging. I’ve only added one freelance job because there just isn’t enough time outside of work to do too much more. With that being said I would like to continue to grow my side income, but I don’t have any intention of leaving my full-time job. There’s too many benefits and I am too paranoid to drop such a secure form of income. If it works in your case, though, I say go for it! I would just keep building your business until you absolutely can’t handle the work load without quitting your 9-5.

    • Kali Hawlk

      April 29, 2014 11:08 am

      Thanks David :) That means a lot to me! I think that’s excellent advice, as well, to just keep plugging away until I absolutely cannot handle the workload. It’s going to be a tough slog, but I know it will be well worth it to do so.

  11. Claire M

    April 29, 2014 3:09 pm

    I have SO much respect for this post. Success is a full sphere and includes a whole fishbowl full of emotion. Meltdowns are rough – but you make a great point that they also come as a reminder that you’ve made the (awesome) choice to push yourself out of the comfort zone!! Strap in safely and scale those walls ahead. You got it, girl.

    PS You know by now that I think you’re about the coolest thing since sliced lembas bread (one day I’ll stop with the LOTR references, I promise!!!)

    • Kali Hawlk

      May 2, 2014 5:02 pm

      Thank you so much for your sweet comment Claire!! I can always count on you to make me feel good and ready to tackle the world :)

      PS If you stop with the LOTR references you’ll have to send me more owl pictures to make up for it.

  12. Brian

    April 29, 2014 9:39 pm

    Congrats on getting your business to a point so quickly that you have a choice to make! I can really relate to how you feel. Its almost like how prisoner’s can some times fear there own release….its stepping into the unknown, and that can be a really scary thought.

    However, if you’ve been able to come this far while still working a full time job, just ask yourself: How much further will I be able to go if I can commit to it full time?

    Might I suggest the Ben Franklin method for this one? Take a piece of paper and on one side write down all the reasons it makes sense to quit. On the other side, all the reasons it doesn’t. Then look at the list. Usually the answer is staring back at you :)

    Long Term brian

    • Kali Hawlk

      May 2, 2014 5:04 pm

      Thanks Brian! I appreciate it! It’s definitely been a wild and crazy – and very tiring – ride, but the experience has been really valuable. I’ve learned and grown a whooooole lot. And the prisoner analogy is so spot on! You would think the prospect of the freedom I’m looking for being so close would be nothing but cause for celebration.. but that freedom comes with a lot of responsibility, and as you said, lots of unknowns, so it’s definitely scary.

      I’ll have to try making my list. Love that suggestion! I’m interested to see what will end up looking at me when I finish it :D

  13. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

    April 30, 2014 9:11 am

    Kali, I think it’s AWESOME that you’re doing so well at freelancing, and awesome that you’re taking your decision to make it your main job so seriously. I have those freak-out, lying in bed days due to our debt. Even though I know we’re making progress, sometimes the journey just seems so big and overwhelming. I’d imagine that’s how you feel a bit about making the jump to full-time freelancing, but it’s that choice to persevere that makes it possible, and I know you can do that. :-)

    • Kali Hawlk

      May 2, 2014 5:05 pm

      That’s pretty much exactly how I feel – you got it spot-on, Laurie! I appreciate the kind words and the encouragement. I value your words so it means the world to me!

  14. Tanya @ Eat Laugh Purr

    April 30, 2014 4:07 pm

    ” I turned to my usual coping mechanism: shut down, freak out, get even more emotional about all the things.” So, I’m not the only one who does this. :) And like you, it’s been my M.O. lately. I’ve felt so stuck lately and uncertain. I’ve been doing more journaling so I get these emotions, feelings, fears out of me. It seems less scary when I look at them, rather than internalize those fears. It’s so amazing that you’re to the point where you can seriously start entertaining leaving your “big girl” job to go freelance full-time. I also think you are smart to take your time to make sure it’s sustainable and to build a financial cushion.

    • Kali Hawlk

      May 2, 2014 5:07 pm

      Nope, definitely not the only one ;) And I find that writing in a journal helps me too! I really have to force myself to do it, because I keep thinking, “if I ever look back at this in 10 years I am going to think I was the saddest, most pathetic little thing,” because my entries usually turn to negative stuff.. but I’ve realized that’s how I deal with that stuff. I get it out and suddenly I feel better. I do need to make an effort to turn to writing when I’m happy, as well, to keep it balanced though!

      Thanks for the sweet comment and the kind words. Means a lot, girl!

  15. MakintheBacon

    April 30, 2014 9:05 pm

    Kudos to you for maintaining your 9-to-5 and growing your business. I don’t have enough balls (figuratively speaking, of course. LOL) to start a freelancing career. I don’t think I could stomach fluctuating income and having to constantly find work, although I am sure the rewards are totally worth it. I have nothing but utmost respect and admiration for people who are working their way to make the transition and who have made the transition and are thriving from it.

    “I also need to remember that the only walls that hold me back are the ones I build myself. Impossible is nothing.” – LOVE THIS!

    I can’t remember what company it was, but they had a commercial that was Olympic themed when the Olympics were on. All I remember was this line, “Your someday is today.”

    • Kali Hawlk

      May 2, 2014 5:08 pm

      Thanks so much! There is a lot of scary stuff involved and associated with doing your own thing – but my desire to make it work usually outweighs all my fears. And I love that line – gonna have to write that one down :) Thanks for sharing!

  16. Taylor

    May 1, 2014 10:41 am

    Congrats! It’s great to hear that you business is going so well! It’s human to have these kind of meltdowns – trust me I know :) It’s very admirable that even though you’ve achieved great successes you’re still taking the time to really flesh out the whole plan before taking a leap. I was at the same crossroads about a month ago. My business is no where near the level of yours right now. After some serious thought I decided to take a leap of faith, quit my day job, and start freelancing and professional dog walking.

    It’s so interesting to see how everyone’s path is different and how we can help each other along the way. I’ll likely have meltdown moment when I get my final “real job” check.

    • Kali Hawlk

      May 2, 2014 5:10 pm

      Thank you for the sweet comment, Taylor! I appreciate the kind words. And thanks for telling a little bit about your business – I’m definitely looking forward to becoming a regular reader of your blog and keeping up with your journey! I love hearing about what other solopreneurs are doing and learning from their wisdom that they share.

  17. Poor Student

    May 4, 2014 4:16 pm

    Congratulations for your growing business! It’s amazing that your side income business can actually make you quit your 9 to 5 job, especially in such short period of time! Nevertheless, I think it’s a good decision that you decide to keep your 9 to 5 until you can’t handle the workload of managing both, because you can still enjoy the benefits of being an employee and being an entrepreneur at the same time!

  18. Jude Boudreaux

    June 9, 2014 3:50 pm

    Super glad to be a (very small) part of you making the big leap, and hoping that we can find more and more planners to help you continue growing towards your goals!


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