2017 is right around the corner and with it come plans, aspirations and false promises to ourselves about six pack abs, smoke free lungs and a better work life balance 🙂 I love stepping into a new year. It gives you a push to reflect on the past and make plans for the future. A fresh start every 12 months. In those moments we actually take the time to distance ourselves from the rat race we call life and try to find a way to re-invent ourselves. That re-invention is crucial to us as human beings, because it is this ability that separates us from animals. (read: Hanna Arendt)

Animals live purely on instincts and will do so as long as they live. A bird is programmed to fly, a tiger is programmed to hunt,… We, as intelligent creatures (can’t speak for everybody of course ;)), are able to take the time to stop, to reorganize ourselves and to decide if this is the path we want to continue on. We can re-invent ourselves, so we can be re-born. I decided to do just that in 2017…

It’s just like throwing up

Everybody knows that feeling when you have the flu and your body is telling you it is making preparations to send the food back up 🙂 That feeling is the worse. You feel like crawling out of your skin, you can’t seem to find peace and the only thing you can think of is how unpleasant it is to throw up. So what do you do? Right, tell yourself excuses and try to postpone it as long as you can. Even though you know, once you give in to it and listen to what your body is trying to tell you, you will feel so much better and are on your way to recovery. Once you gave in and made the toilet your best friend (for all male readers: when you are done hugging the toilet bowl :)) you feel like somebody just took the weight of the world off your shoulders. It is that moment you realize, I needed to do this in order to become better. I needed to do this, because my body knew it was the right thing to do and you are wondering: “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”. That, ladies and gentlemen of the Linkedin reading audience, is the methaphor I use to describe me quitting my awesome job and finally finding the balls to be honest to myself and start on my own.

I made a big mistake…

I’m 29 years old and without boasting, I’m pretty proud of what I have accomplished in my still short career. I studied marketing & communications, was told I would never amount to anything else than working in a callcenter, but managed to work my way up to a senior marketing position in one of the biggest multinationals in the world. I had an awesome team, great colleagues, a reputation, credibility and some beautiful projects under my belt. To top it off, a nice company ride, no financial worries and my biggest concern was, what big holiday I wanted to plan next together with my lovely wife. So when I told people around me I was ready to give it all up (Except my wife of course. Honey, this is not about you.) for a life of uncertainty, I got mixed reactions.

Are you mad, why would you give up a sweet job like that. Look at your car man!

What are you going to do with your house mortgage? Going to be some tough times ahead. Does your wife make enough?

No surprise here. You always wanted this and it’s great that you finally took the step. You will rock!

Wow, I wish I had the guts to take a step like that. I want it too, but I’m just too scared for big changes in my life. I hate uncertainty. .

It’s funny that all the people that couldn’t understand the decision focused purely on the materialistic part. What about the money? What about the car? What about your financial security in general? While the people that supported the choice realized you don’t take a decision like this based on these things. You do it, because you want to grow as a person, keep yourself focused so you can keep on being re-born in life. If you do it right, the cash will automatically follow.

There is no such thing as security

We all live with a false sense of security. The government will take care off us. My job will be there forever. If I can make it to my pension, I will be in the clear.Until your department gets re-located. Your job gets done by robots and the government decides they can no longer pay for pensions in 2050. It is that moment you will realize, you forgot to re-invent yourself and are paying the price. I’m not saying everybody should become an entrepreneur or an independent worker. You can re-invent yourself as an employee as well, just make sure you keep developing yourself and increasing your added value towards your network, family and society. Then no matter what age you are, there will always be a professional place for you in this world.

Comfort makes you lazy

So what was the main driver behind my decision? Well, I always wanted to start on my own. I come from a family of entrepreneurs that all created very successful businesses for themselves, so I always knew I wanted that life. Regardless of the fact that I, as a kid, experienced the tough downsides of entrepreneurship first handed. So I knew someday I wanted to make a name for myself, by myself. I needed experience and a better view of the world before I would take the step. I did good and in all honestly I could have worked for my previous employer for 20 more years. It was truly an awesome job, but every now and then, I ask myself: “Do you know the answer to every question when you come to work? Do you still feel scared when starting a new project?”. When the answers are ‘yes + no’ to those two questions, even if I’m still very happy in my position, I know it is time for a change. This time that change wasn’t to a new employer, that would mean more of the same for a bigger paycheck. No, my body was ready to throw up and I finally found the nerve to accept it. January 1st 2017, I will wake up in a world where nothing will happen for me if I don’t go after it myself. That honestly scares the sh*t out of me, but that feeling is, honestly the best feeling I ever had in my professional life. I can succeed or I can fail, but either way, I will never be able to blame myself for not trying. Entrepreneur or employee, nobody wants to be a ‘what if-person’ on their death bed.