One Year of Freedom!

“Imagine yourself doing what you love, and loving what you do, being happy from the inside out, experiencing your dreams wide awake, being creative, being unique, being you—changing things to the way you know they can be—living the life you always imagined. “ My husband Chet, June 14, 2019.

Just like that, a year went by!  I can’t believe it has been a whole year!  I remember the months and days just before my final day, how difficult they were, how I counted the minutes until I no longer had to worry, until I could finally be myself.  What have I learned this year about leaving a toxic work environment, breaking free, and living the life of my dreams?  Tons!  Here are some of the most important aspects of being an entrepreneur that I can no longer live without. Hope it helps if you are thinking of making the jump!

I am free to create my own vision.  When I was an employee, I needed to run every project and every idea by someone else, often someone who did not have my best interest at heart.  So many good projects went down the drain just because someone did not find them interesting enough.  Most of the time, my boss was more preoccupied with covering her own back than she was about moving the community forward.  It was very frustrating to say the least.  Now, I get to execute every plan and work on every idea.  I get to work on my ideals!  Do I want to travel around the world to promote an inclusive practice?  I can do that.  Do I want to talk to a radio host?  I can do that.  There are no restraints to how much I can contribute to this world.

Dr. Klimek at the Facebook forum in Brooklyn, NY

I can work-from-anywhere.  My work allows me to be able to work from anywhere, and I am embracing it wholeheartedly!  Not only am I embracing it, I’m actually working with partners from around the world, and it has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.  Do you want to have a better vision of what the world needs?  Partner with someone from a different part of the world.  As an employee, I had a very limited vision of what could be done around the globe.  No matter how much I traveled, without collaborative enterprise the world was small.  Now, the world is limitless, and I’m just getting started!

Working from Key West, FL

The sky is the limit.  Basically, I own my time, my thoughts, and my ideas.  I can do what I know is right and follow my heart without having to “run it by” anyone. I can respond to the needs of my community and use it as my guide to improve what I can offer. For better of for worse, I make my own decisions, and I control my own destiny.

Working from Key West, FL

I will be forever grateful to my family and friends who stood by me, listened to me, counseled me, believed in me. I’m a firm believer that when one person is successful doing what they love, we all win.

If you have any questions about making the transition from employee to entrepreneur, drop me a note.

When the Bully is Your Boss: Breaking Free of Toxicity

It will soon be a whole year since I turned my life around. Yes, I broke free not only from my bully boss, but also from the bully mob: Those that were once my friends but preferred to secure a paycheck rather than their own dignity. My work week consisted of never ending work days that had no substance other than securing a paycheck.

Does this resonate with you? Since I left my job, I realized that breaking free from the bullies not only means planning your exit, but also dealing with the abuse in your own mind so that you can turn every obstacle into an opportunity. Does the bully tell you that you will never amount to anything? Amount to EVERYTHING: Be so successful that you exceed your own goals and expectations. Does the bully threaten you with your job security? Learn that no job is ever secure, and take steps to find security in work for yourself, not at the whims of someone else.

Turn every challenge into an opportunity!

The truth is, if you have become the bully’s target, it is possibly because you are actually perceived as a threat by the bully (Tip: If you have ever seen the movie Mean Girls, you will recognize this by the way that Regina George treats Cady). Bullies rarely pick on employees who they don’t perceive as targets: They pick on those that they perceive as threatening.

But even this is not a rule. There are bullies everywhere, and the workplace is not an exception. In fact, the Workplace Bullying Institute, 37 percent of American workers are targets of bullying, while nearly half (49%) are affected by it in one way or another (by witnessing it, for example). That is a really high number!

If you have been bullied at work, by your boss, none of these statistics will matter. What matters is to keep you sane, safe, and give you the tools to execute an exit plan, while you continue to work in a toxic environment. Yes, you will be gaining strength while planning the exit.

How do I know this? I did this myself. I tried everything to try to stay in my job of 21 years. It was a large department that brought me a lot of happiness the first 18 years of my work there. The last 3 years, however, were nothing but miserable.

In the end, I decided that the best alternative for me was to move on. I was very afraid that I would not be able to support myself, let alone be successful. So I crafted a careful plan and set it in motion. Here I am, almost a year later, much more successful than I could have imagined.

Do you want to know more about my experience and learn more about what you should do to finally break free of your bully boss? Sign up and I will keep you posted!

And please stay tuned as I prepare to launch a new feature as the one year anniversary of my entrepreneurship approaches: June 15.

Cheers!

Man and woman at a cafe
My husband and I enjoying the work-from-anywhere environment: Sitting at a cafe in Buenos Aires.

Living a Life of Purpose: New Year Reflections

“I could be lost inside their lies without a trace
But every time I close my eyes I see your face ” Sting, If I Ever Lose My Faith in You.

It seems somewhat incredible, unbelievable, that it has already been over 6 months since I cut ties with my employer of almost 22 years and became self-employed.  Let’s just say that the writing was on the wall, or rather, it had been on the wall for quite some time.  I had never been a firm believer in signs or the universe sending a message, or things of that nature,  but in this case, the message was loud and clear:  It was time to let go.

Now, I had always thought that if I was ever to leave my employer of so many years, it would be for something worthwhile.  In my case, “worthwhile” meant making the jump from employee to entrepreneur.  What I didn’t know at the time was that six months in, I was going to find so much happiness, fulfillment, and sense of purpose doing what I currently do.

 A year ago, I had insomnia, and  could not sleep for days, from the stress that my job caused me.  I lost weight and was put on medication to manage symptoms of PTSD.  This year, I lay awake at night just reflecting on the incredible things I get to live day by day.  Life has certainly changed, and I am extremely thankful to those who “wrote on my wall,” as they, in their quest to make my life impossible, managed to make it incredibly purposeful.  Sometimes the Universe does work in odd ways.

And if you think that money is the reason I’m saying all of this, you’re wrong.  Even though I have been very fortunate in that department, I can honestly say that the reason for this incredible emotion is the fact that for the first time in my life, I get to do, every single day, and every single moment of the day, what I believe in, what I love to do. 

These emotions became all the more clear in during the last two weeks of 2019.  Each end of the year and beginning of a new year tend to mark a tone of reflection.  This was especially true in my case, as I was able to spend those days making connections that will last a lifetime and will truly make the world a better place. I welcomed the new year in a completely incredible, positive, and new-for-me state of mind. 

I was also lucky, very, very lucky to be able to spend those days surrounded by family and friends, the kind that love you no matter what and support you always.  I could almost hear my late father whisper in my ear “I told you so,” so many times.  He will always be my guiding star and my inspiration.  He used to love the song by Sting “If I Ever Lose my Faith in You.”  We used to sing it together.

Dr. Klimek and her family

Dad, wherever you are, thank you for never losing your faith in me. Thank you for showing me the way, always.

Entrepreneurial Chronicles: Working for Myself for 3 months!

Last Sunday (September 15, 2019) was the official three month-mark of my entrepreneurial life, of working for myself!   As in any still-quite-new phase in life, being an entrepreneur comes equipped with a myriad of new learning opportunities.  These learning opportunities come not only with a look to the future, but also a look back, while being completely engaged in the present moment.

After working for the same organization for over 21 years, being able to enjoy life as an entrepreneur feels nothing short of a great feat and accomplishment. However, I don’t want you, readers out there, to think that this is not hard work.  I actually feel that I’m working more than ever!  The difference, however, lies in the fact that I work doing what I absolutely love, and I don’t have to settle for any less.  As a matter of fact, doing what I love keeps me quite busy these days!

I think it is important for anyone contemplating the jump from employee to entrepreneur to contemplate all the pros and cons of this decision.  At the three-month mark, these are the ones that I think about the most:

PROS

  • Your time is yours:  Yes, you own your time, and you get to distribute it the way you want to.  Want to work 15 hours today?  You can do that.  Want to take off so you can catch up on your reading?  Go ahead.  You don’t need permission to do as you please with your time.
  • You get to express our own thoughts and professional opinions:  As an employee, I was forced to say things that I knew were misguided, inconsistent, and sometimes plainly wrong.  As a matter of fact, in my last position, I endured a great deal of bullying from my supervisor/s for standing up for what I believed.  When you work for yourself, you represent your business, and your opinions matter.  Being free to express myself is one of the most precious gifts of being an entrepreneur.
  • There is virtually no limit to your professional growth:  Your work is what you make of it, and you can take it in any direction that you want.  In my case, I’m moving towards a more mobile alternative, so that I can basically work from anywhere, most of the time.  You are able to design the type of work, and the type of work/life balance that you want.
  • You get to interact with the people who matter to you the most: Every day, I get to experience the triumphs as well as the challenges of the people that I serve, and I do so intimately.  I get to establish a mutual working relationship of trust, as people entrust me with what they value the most:  Their children, their families.  This makes my heart shine like a thousand splendid suns and there is simply no better reward than this. 

CONS

  • PTSD is real!  Learn to recognize the signs, talk to your doctor, talk to a therapist. You may have left your job behind, but the triggers are still there.  I get a very automatic reaction every time something reminds my body (not conscious “me”) about a particular place or experience.  Don’t think that only veterans can suffer from this condition.  People who are or have been bullied can suffer from this too.  If you are experiencing bullying at work, please seek help!
  • It’s hard to STOP working:  Just because you can work as many hours as you want, does not mean that you should work every waking hour, but when you are an entrepreneur, it is hard to say no!  I have been growing exponentially for the past three months, and there are days that I think I can work from dusk to dawn.  It is important to recognize your limits, listen to your body, and take care of yourself! I’m learning to do this, little by little, and every time I do something just for myself, it feels GREAT!

If you have any questions about entrepreneurial life, career or work issues, or would like help building an exit plan that would work for you, drop me a note.

Working from anywhere!

Cheers!

Dr. Klimek

Entrepreneurship Chronicles: Month One Reflections

“A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for,” John A. Shedd

I can’t believe that it has already been a month of working for myself.  To be perfectly honest, this past month just flew by.  I have been BUSY.  One of the most common fears (and should I say, widespread myths?) of an employee is that if they leave the employer and work for themselves, there is a chance that that steady flow of income will be gone.  I was not an exception to this type of fear.  After one month of working for myself I can say that this is not entirely untrue, but it is mostly blown out of proportion.  As a matter of fact, in the past month, one of the most challenging aspects of working for myself has been to schedule clients and make time for office hours. I simply feel that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything that I want to do. 

The biggest question though, as I was preparing to leave my life as an employee and preparing for my life as an entrepreneur was, how will it feel?  I envisioned feeling nervous, anxious about having taken this huge responsibility on my own and leaving the comfort of a secure paycheck.  Will I have enough clients?  Will my income decrease?  I am happy to say that those fears were unfounded.  My income revenue is strong, and I have been expanding on a daily basis.  Life is pretty good on this end.

As I revisit my decision every day, I can say that I have NO REGRETS.  I am the owner of my time.  My income is directly affected by my own efforts and capacity.  I have the immediate possibility of growth.  I dictate the rules and regulations of my business.  And most importantly, I PUT MY CLIENTS FIRST.  I was raised by the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you,” and my previous employer did not live by this rule.  I could no longer bear the agony of having to put my own judgement aside to deliver policies that were not conducive to the principles I live for:  Social Justice and Equity.

Today, I live the life I want to lead.  I am a true professional, a true educator, an advocate and coach for families of special needs.  I no longer feel like a highly paid pencil-pusher.  All I can say is: I wish I had made this decision earlier!

Girl sitting under a tree.