There are many professionals who have world-changing ideas but will never ever see them manifest. Due to the realities of providing for a family, saving for rainy days and college educations,  we conform to contemporary corporate culture out of fear, and security. Many of us are creative and entrepreneurial, but reality snaps back when that next bill comes through. So what ends up happening? There are those of us who work at an employer we can tolerate and whose culture we can conform to, or you cannot tolerate your job, and it impacts your life in some adversarial way.

I thrived at a corporate tech giant for years. I started a new role at the beginning of the 2017, and things were stressful, to say the least. After just a few weeks, I was not thrilled about the new role, learning the grass is not always greener on the other side. I took medical leave in Q4 of 2017 to reflect on what I really wanted to do and more importantly, what was best for me and my family. I was experiencing high levels of anxiety, and it was not only affecting my work, but my health. I just got married 3 months prior, and if anyone has planned a wedding you’re familiar with the up marks and price tag of the celebration. My anxiety grew, but I prioritized pulling my weight over my health -- a very common and tragic mistake.

Well, the answer was clear. I went back to work in January  and less than a month in my old working conditions and environment, I simply snapped and fell apart. I quit the very next day- an abrupt end to a transformative 4-year career. And that’s okay, my body and my mind told me I needed a break, to contemplate and move forward with purpose. I’m eternally grateful for Maggie McBennett, Mike Gamson, and the HR team at LinkedIn who went well and above the duties of their role to assist my wife while I was on medical leave. I can’t imagine what I would have done if I was not at a company as compassionate as LinkedIn- my thoughts are with those who don’t have that same privilege.

Fast forward a few months later, and I was on the mend. Mostly thanks to the unconditional love and support of my wife, I was able to focus on treatment, and start getting my life back on track. Once I was ready to start making important decisions, my wife and I decided it wasn’t a good idea for me to go back to corporate life. So together we decided I had to find something I love, something I’m good at and something I can get paid for! Amen?

In February, I co-founded Marketers of Tomorrow (MO2), an outsourcing company that connects talent in the Caribbean with businesses to meet their goals. MO2 is only in its infancy, but after steady progress in 2018, we’re off to a strong and prosperous 2019!

Here are ten helpful takeaways I learned the easy and hard way, may they help you whether you’re a corporate lifer, an entrepreneur, or somewhere in between:

1. Ensure you have a support system around who you can openly communicate with

Even outside of professional work, life can be challenging. Mentors, therapists, and the relationships with your close friends & family matter most when you’re in need.

2. Having a system in place will save you a lot of time and keep you productive

I like to think of myself as an ideas guy, I get one and want to run with it. But after using project management tools like Asana, Trello, and Google Calendar, I’m able to track a wide range of activities and account for their status. Nothing slips through the cracks.

3. Balance is key in all areas of life to maintain health & wellness

Sure, working hard and long hours shows people you’re dedicated, but what’s the point if you’re not productive/healthy? Take time to regularly exercise, watch your diet, drink water, meditate/rest, and disconnect.

4. Working (9a-5p)/(7a-4p) is not the only way to work

What if I told you I work 7 days a week, and never feel tired or burnt out? You’d think I was crazy, but in my current position, I work from home and find that with control, I can better prioritize my time to do the aforementioned in #3. My mind is clear of anxiety, and I can work under conditions that manifest my best efforts

5. Don’t become a shut-in

This can happen to anyone, whether you’re an entrepreneur, employee, or trust fund baby. But if you’re working from home, it’s incredibly easy to get accustomed to not leaving. I implore you to keep your relationships and community close! If you don’t want to go out, or need to save money like me -- invite them into your home. Don’t be shy.

6. If you have a good idea/passion, keep talking about it

You would not believe what kind of opportunities and introductions will surface if you simply follow Mallika Chopra’s advice, and “Live With Intention”. Many friends and mentors offered their insights, experiences, and may be open to introducing you to people who have similar ideas and passions.

7. Think both short-term and long-term

When I built the roadmap for MO2, I thought to myself: what do I need to get done in 3, 6, and 12 months? I built a GANTT roadmap using a template I found on the Google. Every Sunday, I decide what needs to get done for the week pursuant to the roadmap and follow a diligent checklist.

8. Reevaluate your spending, now that your income has changed

I learned this one a little later in the year after a lavish year of foreign trips and low balance mobile alerts. Whether you’re an employee or entrepreneur, you should be monitoring your spending and consumption. It’s incredibly easy to let recurring subscriptions charge and end up amassing expensive credit debt.

9. Meet with your financial partners (accountants, wealth managers, etc.)

After telling my accountant that this was my first year being self-employed, she briefed me on new considerations, and additional ways to ensure my taxes are done efficiently, and accurately.

10. Most importantly, go out there and create!!

If you have a vision, you’re blessed enough to be on the Earth -- make use of your time here, collaborate with others, and try to make it a better place for everyone!

Happy New Year! Be safe, and enter 2019 like IT'S LIT!

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