Quitters: How Quitting Made Me Feel Like a Million Bucks

Meet Jessica Lindgren aka Gal Friday 612.

Meet Jessica Lindgren aka Gal Friday 612.

Jessica Lindgren is the latest in my Quitters series, all about people who've quit & are better for it. Jessica quit her corporate job a year ago to start her own business. Spoiler alert: she's kicking ass. We talk about her worst case scenario, finding the guts and office cats. 

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What did you quit and why?

A year ago, I quit my full time job to start my own company!

What did your life feel like before you quit?

I was exhausted and stressed out.  Like, all. the. time.  Dragging myself out of bed every morning, barely making it to the office on time, and doing very little other than binge-watch Netflix when I got home every night.  I was good at my job, but my job wasn't a good fit for me, and it took a long time to admit that to myself.

What pushed you to quit? 

As an occasional freelancer, I had worked off and on over the previous three years with my Graphic Designer for an overall look and feel to the brand, his insanely talented Illustrator sister for my logo, and my Web Designer/Developer for a shiny web presence.  Gal Friday 612 was always something I did for fun, and I never had any serious plans to make it a full-time gig.

After a couple of years of reading Seth GodinEntrepreneur Magazine, and other business blogs, I woke up one day and realized I had paid off all my debts, saved up a year's worth of expenses, and had an excellent foundation for the Gal Friday 612 brand.  In a nutshell, I had done exactly what a lot of reputable resources recommended you do before going into business for yourself. 

In the weeks leading up to quitting, I still applied and interviewed for a number of other jobs, but just wasn't getting excited about any of them.  Making Gal Friday 612 a full-time venture seemed a little crazy on the surface, but it was starting to look more and more appealing to me the longer I went without finding The Job For Me with another company.  

With all of my proverbial ducks in a row, and no thrilling job leads, I figured the worst thing that could happen is I could try to make Gal Friday 612 my full-time job and fail.  Wait, scratch that - I knew that the actual worst thing that could happen is I could never even try.  That realization pushed me to make the leap into self employment and not look back. 

I left my job! Time to celebrate?

I left my job! Time to celebrate?

So tell me about this Girl Friday biz you started. What exactly do you do?

I am the Founder & Main Gal at Gal Friday 612 - what that means in practical terms is that I am a freelance Administrative Professional. With over a decade of experience as an Executive Assistant under my belt (omg I am so old...), it was easy to feel like I wanted to help everyone with everything, but in order to be successful, you have to specialize. Since I wasn't finding my dream job with anyone else, I picked the parts of being an Executive Assistant that I love best (Event ManagementPersonal Assistance, and Office Management) and created my dream job.

Working for myself, I've been afforded the opportunity to work in all three major areas of expertise that I offer.  I've added and subtracted tons of services from my website over the last year, and I love having the flexibility to decide what I will and won't work on.  If it's something I'm not interested in or available for, I have a wide network of professionals that I can refer clients along to. When someone wants their taxes done, to hire a maid, or any other number of services, if I'm not the right fit for the job, I can guarantee I know someone who is!

The hardest part about quitting?

Mustering up the guts to tell my bosses was probably the hardest part.  I felt like I was letting them down, or failing them somehow.  It's important to remember that when you leave a job, things will adjust in the wake of your departure.



Quitting can be emotionally taxing. Who or what helped you cope?

Every single person I told about my plan to quit supported me 100%.  There is no way I could have made it through quitting without my friends, family, and even the complete strangers who told me they were proud of me for striking out on my own.  Bonus high fives to my boyfriend and two cats who continue to have my back 24/7.

I'm not going to lie - there was a week immediately after quitting where I did nothing but stay up late, sleep in, play video games, snuggle my cats and have pizza rolls and beer three meals a day.  It was the best damn week of my life, and I highly recommend it to anyone quitting anything at all.  

Take time to detox from whatever was stressing you out.  You'll be amazed at how motivated you are to start kicking ass and taking names after rebooting yourself.

Was quitting scary for you? Why or why not?

Quitting was scary, but in an exhilarating way - the way I imagine skydiving feels.  I'm a big believer in doing something every day that scares the crap out of you - if it's not scary, what's the point?

 How did you feel immediately after you quit?

I felt like a million bucks!  I was breathing easier, sleeping better, and was happier than I had been in a long time.  My massage therapist noticed an immediate difference in my shoulders, which is where I have always carried my stress.  Having my financial cushion made it possible to have that aforementioned chillaxing week without feeling the pressure of immediately finding billable work. 

How do you feel now? Any regrets?

Working into the wee hours of the night with Admin Assistant #2

Working into the wee hours of the night with Admin Assistant #2

A year later, I'm still feeling like a million bucks.  I set my own schedule, my clients are fab, and business is booming.  Plus, when I work from home, OFFICE CATS.  I call them my Administrative Assistants.  

Occasionally, I will offhandedly joke that my only regret is not quitting and starting my own business sooner, but I know I did it at the right time - if I had done it earlier, I wouldn't have been as well-prepared and open to the adventure.  

How has quitting changed your life?

Meeting my Aussie pals, Kim and Ben, in NYC

Meeting my Aussie pals, Kim and Ben, in NYC

Over the past year, I have learned SO MUCH about business, and picked up many new skills.  For instance, I've never worked in sales, but it turns out I'm really good at it, and I love doing it!  Most of the time it doesn't even feel like I'm working, because I'm having so much fun with my clients.  I had no idea earning a living could be this awesome.

I have traveled more this year than I ever have before!  As an Executive Assistant, it's nearly impossible to actually take time off from work without being tied to your mini Internet machine.  Living in the future affords me the opportunity to work from anywhere and everywhere, and if your clients rock, they don't care about the how or where you get your work done - they just care that it gets done on time.  If you play your cards right, you can take several days off at a stretch without a second thought.

Advice to someone who's thinking of quitting?

DO IT.  I mean, do your homework first, but if you're thinking about quitting your job, set your goals and plan your route toward achieving them.  Got an extra $50?  Order some business cards!  Vacation days that you need to use or lose?  Take informational interviews with anyone and everyone who will let you buy them a cup of coffee - you never know where those meetings will take you in the future.  

Save up the money your Grandparents send you this holiday season for setting up an LLC.  It only takes $155, a kick-ass business name, and 15 minutes of your time.  Start shopping around for an accountant, an insurance agent, and a lawyer.  Spend one day a week working at a coworking facility.  Then, when you actually do quit, you'll be ready to hit the ground running instead of facing a laundry list of "to-dos."

You can always drop your favorite Gal Friday a note to ask for advice, too.  Jessica can be reached at hello at galfriday612 dot com. 

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Check out other Quitters here

PS If you want to share your quitting story, email me at heyeleanorproject@gmail.com.

 

#296. I'm Going into Business with Friends & Feel Good About It (So Far)

business business business, money money money

business business business, money money money

There's that cliche.

You shouldn't go into business with friends. 

There's too much at stake. Too much history. Too much a lot of things. 

So am I being naive by going into business with friends?

Here's the story, without giving too much away. 

One of my best friends had an idea. It's a clothing accessory that's currently not on the market. It's a really great idea. She is super into the business-y side of things and getting shit done, but doesn't have a strong fashion background. 

However, one of our other good friends does have a fashion background. She can design and make stuff. The business-y side is not her thing. 

So they working on this business. 

And eventually, they needed someone who knew a thing or two about marketing/building a website/social media/etc.

Enter: me. 

Three pals with separate, but complimentary skill sets. What could possibly go wrong?! 

Well, I guess feelings could get hurt. 

And who pays for what? And what if we fail? But what if we don't? How do we deal with money?!

Maybe we're all nuts, but we decided to throw caution to the wind and file for our LLC status (is that the right terminology? I wouldn't know, I'm just the marketing person). 

This isn't any of our full-time gigs at this point, but who knows? Maybe it could be. For right now, we're just trying to get a prototype made. Don't worry-- when we're ready to show off our goods, you'll be the first to know. 

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Have you started a business with friends/family? Regrets? No regrets? Please tell.

P.S. Not the first time I've taken a plunge... literally and figuratively.

10 Bold-Faced Lies/Other Notes About Short Hair

Unlike Beyonce, I did not wake up like this. 

Unlike Beyonce, I did not wake up like this. 

Two months ago, I cut off all my hair.

It was a pretty big change, but I could not be happier about it. That said, I'd be lying if I said it was an easy transition. People think they know short hair, but unless you've been there, you don't!

Here's 10 things I've learned about short hair in the last 60 days. 

1. It's So Low Maintenance. LIE! 

I used to go to my hairstylist every eight-to-ten weeks for cuts. Now I'm at every six weeks (with a bang trim between each appointment). I'm lucky my gal isn't too far away. 

2. I'll Bet it's So Easy to Style. LIE!

No way! I can't air-dry this mop anymore without it looking like absolute trash. Before, I would dry my bangs and move on with my day. Now, I gotta dry the whole thing, flat iron it, then add a little texturing paste. I use this one from Number 4 and it's so great (and smells fabulous).

3. Guys Don't Like Short Hair. LIE!

From my brother's wedding... I loved my hair (despite the shark bang). 

From my brother's wedding... I loved my hair (despite the shark bang). 

My husband loves it and I don't even suspect he's pulling my leg. I've also received a lot of nice (and unsolicited) compliments from guys. Last weekend at my brother's wedding, I got SO many compliments... especially from dudes! I honestly felt like I looked better at their wedding than I did at my own. Maybe because I wasn't dripping with sweat all day long. 

4. At Least Your Haircuts are Cheaper. LIE!

I don't really understand the rationale behind this one. Maybe it's because there is less hair to work with, but my haircuts are not cheaper AND I get them twice as often. So, no.

5. Fact: I Wear More Makeup.

I'll admit to being a little more conscious about leaving the house sans makeup. The short hair makes me feel like my face is more on display, plus I don't want to feel too masculine. I've been wearing eyeliner almost daily and try to wear lipstick. 

6. Fact: I Care More About My Clothes

Or maybe it's my accessories. At any rate, clothing-wise I tend to lean toward simple outfits. Lots of plaid, tees, jeans, boots. Not a lot of feminine stuff. Now that my hair is short, I feel compelled to add a pop of color, floral prints or some jewelry. Except earrings. Why do long earrings look weird with short hair? Or is that all just in my mind?

7. Fact: Short Hair = Less Catcalls 

Maybe this is in my head, but while I feel pretty around my husband, I don't necessarily feel like random dudes on the street take much notice of me. I've said this before and I will say it again: You could literally have six eyes and an upside-down nose and most guys would still check you out if they caught a glimpse of your flowing blonde/brunette/red locks. The hair is a magnet for creepers. I don't miss that one bit. 

8. Fact: Say Bye to Hats. 

This looks weird.

This looks weird.

This looks even weirder. 

This looks even weirder. 

I used to wear a lot of baseball hats when I didn't feel like dealing with my hair. Like, for example, going out for breakfast on the weekends or something. Now when I put on a hat, I feel like it looks really weird because ALL of my hair is covered. And forget stocking caps. I try to get a few bangs peeking out of the front to prove that I'm not bald. 

9. Fact: The Key is in the Hair Dryer.

Mr. Hairdryer is my new best friend. It's the defining element between a good and bad hair day. Here's what I do, in case you're interested: brush all of my wet hair forward (especially around the ears). Then I keep brushing it forward while blasting it with my drier. This gives my ol' mop a bit of edgier texture. It also eliminates weird pieces flying every which way around my ears.

10. Fact: I Feel More Like Myself.

Even though this short 'do is a pain in a lot of ways, when I left 10 inches of hair on the salon floor, I felt so much happier. A decade ago, I also had short hair. I remember thinking that it suited me better than a longer style. But I like a change every now and then, so I grew it out. And while I liked my longer hair, I never quite loved it like I love the short stuff.

It's more fun. It's different. It's me. 

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PS Remember when Jackie cut off all her hair? So great! Oh, and here's my before & after hair cut pics... no regrets. 

Links I Love

And here's this week's best stuff on the Internet, according to me. 

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If you have yet to watch this video of grandmas smoking ganj for the first time, you are in for a treat!  

You know how some people "can't live away from the water"? I just stumbled upon this book that explains the science behind that. Sounds like an excellent read!

The reason I am still kinda psyched about my capsule wardrobe: a lot of smart, successful people do it to lessen their decision fatigue. I will say ALL of the people mentioned in that article are men, which annoys me. Do you know many successful women who wear the same thing everyday? Probably not. Double Standardsville! 

Celebrating Friendsgiving? Here's Tess Rafferty's guide to not being a A-hole guest.  

Some jerk took the time to Photoshop a picture of Guy Fieri without his human lava lamp signature hairdo... and I for one could not be more grateful. 

And on a more serious note...

If you live in the Twin Cities, you've probably heard a little about Nora & Aaron's love story, with some cancer. I don't know these two, but we have lots of people in common. They're about my age, have been married a few years, & have a really adorable kid named Ralphie. They're funny, interesting and like to do the same kind of stuff I do-- concerts at First Ave, watching Netflix all weekend. I see a lot of my marriage in theirs. However, there is one big difference:

Aaron is currently in hospice. 

It's sad and it's unfair, but death doesn't care much about that. I've in absolute awe of how these two have handled Aaron's illness, and now his death. They've chosen to be brave and honest, something a lot of us aren't when we're talking about the D word. 

Anyhow, you can read more about these two here. If you feel compelled (as I did), make a donation or buy one of these kick-ass shirts to help support Aaron's hospice care/Nora & Ralphie through the next few months.  

Keep these three in your thoughts.  

#289 - 295. My Winter Capsule: Week Two

I look sad because I am freezing. Also, the only pic in this outfit where my hair looked dece.

I look sad because I am freezing. Also, the only pic in this outfit where my hair looked dece.

Two weeks in and I am kind of over this capsule thing for 5 specific reasons:

1) The Effing Weather!

I selected my clothes during the most gorgeous fall we've ever experienced in Minnesota. 50 and 60 degree days! Amazing! 

However, for the last 10 days, it's January-like temps & lots of snow (not Buffalo-style, but still). Suddenly, I don't want to wear my grey cowboy boots or vegan leather jacket. In fact, about 25 percent of my capsule is more or less unwearable. 

I was expecting it to get cold, but not this fast! Winter doesn't even technically start for a month.

Dammit!

2) I Selected Clothing Hastily (also, I was being cheap).

You know when Billy Crystal launches into that speech at the end of When Harry Met Sally and it ends with something like, "When you finally realize you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to begin as soon as possible"? Well that's how I felt about this capsule thing. I just wanted to start already!

I still really like most of the things I picked, but in retrospect, I should've thought ahead about this snap in the weather and planned accordingly. I have too many long sleeved shirts (one that aren't good for layering) and not enough things to wear over them. That's partially because I didn't want to spend more money on sweaters and the like, which seemed like a thrifty idea at the time. 

I could definitely use a plain, oversized cardigan or two. And maybe some fleece-lined leggings. 

3) I already ruined my favorite thing.

Yep. Part of this whole deal was to buy nice things that I would take care of. So I did. For example, a $60 charcoal sweatshirt (pictured above). 

LOVE IT. 

Just didn't quite realize it was 25 percent wool and I effing shrunk it in the wash! It might be salvageable, but it's just not the same. IDIOT!

4) Shopping Follows Me Everywhere!

I spent the weeks prior to posting my wardrobe looking up links to clothes, etc. Which means every time I look at any site with ads, it's showing me pictures of clothing I like. On sale. I don't need to shop, shopping finds me. I am holding strong...

for the most part...

5) Shhh... I Kinda Cheated.

I absolutely can't stand one of my pairs of jeans. They're supposed to be skinny jeans, but I just got them hemmed and they kinda flair at the bottom, making them hard to tuck into boots. I never want to wear them. What kills me is that they're the expensive Citizens of Humanity ones.

Ugh. 

I swapped them out for these, which were in the tub in the basement. They're really old and faded, but they fit inside my boots. They're better in the summer because they're light weight, but I can handle them 'til January 9.

Ok, and I also bought a pair of stylish winter boots because I've been slipping everywhere! They are so cute and I bought them with a Nordstrom gift card and I will take a pic when they arrive.

So yeah, I cheated. Having said all that...

I am still liking only having a few options.

It's still making getting ready a breeze. And has dramatically cut down on my decision fatigue (that is a thing & you can read about it here). I really like a few of the items I have a TON. I've worn this shirt eight times (estimate). I just wish I had a GD cardigan to go over it. 

At any rate, this is what I've been wearin':

After the leaves fall off the trees, it sure gets ugly around here!

After the leaves fall off the trees, it sure gets ugly around here!

I've worn this twice, once to a coffee meeting and once some other time that also probably involved drinking coffee.

Black puffer jacket  *  Charcoal sweatshirt  *  Graphic tee  *  High riser mom jeans

Short black boots  *  Long necklace  

Still loving this cardigan, mostly because it's one of the only warm things in my closet. 

Still loving this cardigan, mostly because it's one of the only warm things in my closet. 

I snagged this sweater three times already, which bugs me. I still like it though. 

Graphic cardigan  *  Black tee  *  Black jeggings  *  Short black boots  *   Long necklace

Plaid shirt + Frye boots = One of my many lady lumberjack looks.

Plaid shirt + Frye boots = One of my many lady lumberjack looks.

I'm standing to the side because these boots are significantly cuter from the side. Not loving them anymore. I think I'm skewing more ankle boot lately. Maybe I will sell them on eBay, though they are great on a motorcycle, which is important because my husband has one... or five. Whatever.

Flannel shirt  *  Newbie skinny jeans  *  Tall motorcycle boots 

Rocking the Minnetonka Moccasin mukluk look.

Rocking the Minnetonka Moccasin mukluk look.

Saturday morning running errands and heading to a coffee shop. I'd the glasses are for my far-sightedness, but I don't even know what that means.

I only "need" glasses when I don't feel like putting on makeup.

P.S. Say hi to my dog, Patsy!

Scarf  *  Plaid shirt  *  Skinny jeans  *  Mukluk boots  *  Completely unnecessary glasses 

Fact: people only spill on you when you're wearing white. 

Fact: people only spill on you when you're wearing white. 

Wore this to THE Garth Brooks concert. The best part was when the drunk dudes behind us spilled a full beer down my back. Hoping it doesn't stain this beautiful white top... currently in the wash. 

Scarf  *  White button down  *  High riser mom jeans  * Tall brown boots

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Two weeks down, a lot more to go. Lots of mixed feelings-- I am currently regretting this a little, but maybe this is just a mourning period. I can handle it; it's just clothes. 

ICYMI: Here's what I wore last week, and here's a link to all the stuff currently in my sparse closet.  

Everyday Eleanor: Jaimal Yogis of The Fear Project

Jaimal, the beach & his super cute toddler. 

Jaimal, the beach & his super cute toddler. 

You're not going to believe this, but I am not the first person to do a fear-based project.

Apparently, there are lots of us out there.

Journalist, surfer and shy guy Jaimal Yogis might be one of the most well-known. You may have heard of his first book, Saltwater Buddha (soon to be a feature film!). A surfing meets Zen book sounds great and all, but what drew me in is his second book, The Fear Project, exploring the science behind our most primal emotion & how to overcome it. We talked swimming with sharks, social anxiety & why as adults we need to "drop ourselves off at daycare."

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Like me, you’re a fear enthusiast. Hmmm… maybe enthusiast isn’t the right word, but you know what I mean. How’d you get here?

I’d been dumped by my girlfriend of five years. When we broke up, it triggered not only my insecurities and fears, but this intense doubt of everything I’d ever known… I thought we were going to get married and I was thrown from my foundation. I couldn’t sleep. I needed to start over.

You hear about all this brain science and I started to wonder if there was anything out there that could help me. I didn’t want to trust any of the assumptions that I made in the past because my boat had basically sunk. So that’s where the Fear Project began.

Because I am a writer, I think about anything that I am doing and wonder if I can turn it into a book. Some people can do their job separately from their lives. But I am one of those people who works on things that are happening in my life.

What was the first thing you intentionally did because it was scary? What did you learn?

I’m a surfer and decided I was going to really face my physical fears in the water. I thought I would get in really good shape and then swim to Alcatraz.

I’d been on a field trip there as a kid and they talked about the prisoners getting eaten by sharks if they escaped. That turned out to not be true, but it scarred me. I had dreams when I was little about falling off of Alcatraz and getting eaten. So I decided I was going to escape from Alcatraz. Jump off the island and swim back.

Jaimal surfing and looking like a total badass. 

Jaimal surfing and looking like a total badass. 

I did the swim with this famous open water swimmer named Jamie Patrick. It turned out that we couldn’t just go out to the island and swim to shore. We had to swim out and back, which turns out to be four miles or something way longer than I'd ever swam in the open ocean.

Long story short, we miscalculated the tides and we ended up getting almost swept away. The Coast Guard was really upset with us, but it ended up being really fun. By the end of it, I discovered any little fear you can break through and associate with something good starts to ripple into other fears.

What insight have you captured by facing your fears? 

I started realizing fear doesn’t have to have a negative association. We’re so trained to say fear is bad because it makes us uncomfortable.

When you break it down, what is it? It’s actually a heightened sense of awareness.

It’s like your body tensing up, getting ready for action, and so when you're saying yes to it...it starts to change the fear instantly. That’s why people become fear junkies. It can actually become really fun, too. And as long as you're doing that in a way that doesn’t risk your life too much, it can be so empowering. Everything I’ve been afraid of can actually be dealt with this way, from the cocktail party with strangers to skydiving.

I talk a lot about how it’s the things that can’t kill you that often are the scariest. Do you agree?

I’ve found that the scariest things are around losing my good reputation. I think this is a primal fear and goes back to when we were tribal people. We depended on the tribe. If you were outcast, it was a death sentence. Getting approval from your peers and having a social network is so key.

In a lot of ways, it’s more scary to lose that respect than it is to die. I think that’s one of the reasons soldiers say things like I was more afraid to be called a coward than I was to die.

I've done some things that were maybe a little too death defying, but that’s scary in a different way. Social scariness keeps you up at night, which is the most annoying. The death fear is really intense in the moment and then it passes. It’s like, thank god I survived that. Now it’s over. But social anxiety can plague you.

What's helped you overcome that social fear?

I've surrounded myself with really cool people. Whatever I do that’s authentic to myself, they're all really supportive. It's inspired other people to go out on a limb and write a folk song and sing it at a café, or do something uncharacteristic that might be truer to their real selves.

Those leaps outside of my reputation comfort zone are always the scariest, but they’re the most gratifying if they're based in an authenticity that comes from the heart.

In a recent blog post, you talk about how adults need to drop themselves off at daycare. What do you mean by that? Why do you think it’s important?

I have a 2.5-year-old. He started preschool a year ago. At first, he'd would throw a tantrum when I left 100 percent of the time. It’s now about 50 percent. But he still throws a tantrum often. He suffers form all the same social anxiety his mom and I do. Shyness is genetic. I see him, every day, pushing his comfort zone because he has to and because we know it's good for him. He’s gradually becoming this flexible and socially relaxed creature. It’s a beautiful process to watch.

Jaimal and his awesome kid.

Jaimal and his awesome kid.

I realized recently that we as adults find patterns that we’re comfortable in and we don’t have to be in those tantrum throwing experiences that really expand our boundaries. I think part of that is that life is really difficult as an adult—you have taxes and your parents are getting older and a lot to think about. 

Doing one thing that makes you struggle a little bit, even if it's small. That’s where we grow.

I think when you do it consciously, that growth is exponential. That’s why I said you have to be your own parent and drop yourself off at preschool everyday.

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For more info on Jaimal, check out his website, follow him on Twitter and Facebook. You can check out my other Everyday Eleanor interviews in the archives. You know you want to.

I want to hear your Everyday Eleanor story. Email me at heyeleanorproject@gmail.com.