Today marks the first anniversary of the day that I decided to take my first steps towards becoming a business owner as I sat watching the sunset over El Nido in the beautiful Philippines.
The friend that I was travelling with had fallen victim to an upset stomach and whilst he rested back at our hostel I’d decided to visit the nearest bar overlooking the stunning archipelago. I’d been told about a powerful book, entitled ‘When Breath Becomes Air’ (written by Paul Kalanithi) one of many books I’d selected for our adventure, and settled down with an ice cold Corona. I had just a few chapters left, and the entire evening ahead of me which I’d decided I was going to use to finish the book before drafting a plan for my next career steps having resigned from my role at EY the previous month, with no plan other than to take some time for myself.
Without giving too much away about the book, it does not have a happy ending, and as I finished the last page tears were streaming down my face as I stared out soaking up the view in front of me, I ordered another beer this time opting for the local brew, Red Horse.
Reading a book like that changes your life, and causes you to confront your mortality head on. My mindset, which for the last 6 weeks had been one very much focused on simply living in the moment, suddenly began to shift towards the future, and what I had left to achieve in my life. I’d always dreamt about starting my own business, but I was conflicted in my thoughts. I’d left my previous role as I’d burnt out. My anxiety had been going through the roof, and I’d suffered a few bouts of depression. I’d been running on empty for far too long, and I’d only just started to feel anything close to how I used to. However, at the same time the timing couldn’t have been any better. The last time that I’d found myself without a job had been the redundancy I’d suffered before I stumbled on my career at EY in 2010. It had been an opportunity for me to re-invent myself and finally overcome the ‘Which Career? No Idea.’ syndrome that had plagued me since the age of 14.
In employer branding, I’d discovered a career which played to my strengths and one which I enjoyed. My recent struggles had been a lack of focus on self care and time management. As my own boss I could be in control of both. It was time to take the leap.
Now I’ve always rolled my eyes at those who say they plan to use travel as an opportunity to find themselves, but in that hour as the sun disappeared below the horizon and the sky fell dark, I found a flurry of inspiration come over me (it could have been the sunset, the book or even the beer to be honest!) and began scribbling notes into my journal.
Who did I want to serve? What value did I add? Why should my potential clients and others listen to what I had to say?
By the time I returned to the hostel to collect my friend for dinner ’The Branding Man’ was ready to unleash upon the world. Safely tucked away inside the pages of my journal. Now all I had to do was start my journey back towards the surface, after so many months buried in the deep…