I transitioned to being an independent consultant from being a full time HR professional 6 months ago. Honestly, I didn’t know if this is what I wanted. All I wanted was to get rid of the daily grind and some other things like trying to be a pleasing HR professional, trying to prove to some why HR is required at all, office politics and above all get time for myself. I wanted to be in charge of my life, pursue hobbies, have time for a run, get to sip my coffee in daylight on my balcony and still be a career oriented person. Well the transition wasn’t so easy, wasn’t easy for me to really accept the change. Theoretically, it sounded perfect, practically, not so great. What if I don’t know what to do with my life while I am getting some foothold? What if I do not get my first assignment right away? And the biggest fear was not being able to see that text on the last day of the month. I knew I had to do something with my life and live the way I wanted to. It did take a lot of courage and support for me to really take the plunge. I decided to give myself time.
When finally I could muster courage, I had to face disapproving comments from quite a lot of people. Many could not even comprehend my need. Not many understood why I needed time for myself. Isn’t it an easier option to outsource domestic chores so that your work is reduced at home? It is such a big risk, there are so many consultants out there, how will you even begin? Many of them were echoing the fears I already had. Some didn’t understand my need to have flexibility in my schedule. I was demanding too much luxury. They thought, flexible work hours, jobs that didn’t require you to stay away from home for 12 straight hours were meant for new mothers only. I clearly didn’t fit the bill. Some others were trying to be helpful by asking me what exactly it was that I wanted to do. And my response was, good question. Not many realised what a battle I had won (with myself) by deciding to quit my job and become a consultant (or try to). I didn’t have a clear picture of what exactly I wanted to do. All I knew was HR was a profession of choice, I enjoyed designing solutions and interventions, I enjoyed the intellectual part of it. I was yet to figure my way ahead.
Amidst all this chaos, my only solace was my husband. He never once discouraged me, never questioned why I wanted what I wanted. All he said was, this is the time to experiment, so go ahead and don’t leave scope for regrets. His support has always been my biggest strength.
So with some fears (reduced exponentially though) and some support, I set out. I had a fair idea of how I wanted to get started and I hoped I was right. Linkedin was my first choice. I had to let people know I was available and open to take up assignments. I re-connected with some people, connected with some more and the response was encouraging enough to keep me at it. I had to make some changes in the way I worked, I had to wear a Consultant’s hat and function while being an outsider. I zeroed down on my preferences and took up some certifications in the area. Soon enough I started my first project in collaboration with another aspiring consultant. I had my second project just as I ended the first one and so it began.
Six months later, I can’t say I have aced it. But I know now, I was right. I couldn’t have done anything differently. This is taking me someplace good and the journey is everything I ever wanted. Ofcourse it is not easy, but it is what I wanted it to be. I decide my schedule and work, I decide when I want to stop for the day or not. The work I have been doing has taught me a lot, made me more confident of my abilities and also taught me something I would otherwise never have learnt to do – Network. I am one of those people to whom it doesn’t come naturally. But today I do not hesitate in introducing myself to someone. And I am okay with initiating a conversation over email or phone with a stranger. At times I have been surprised by the positive response and word of encouragement that I received from complete strangers. The world out there is not so bad afterall. So this is to all those people who are right now in the stage where I was, ofcourse there’s no guarantee. But don’t leave scope for regrets. It’s always upto you. And Life doesn’t end there. I read this somewhere and it has stayed with me, “It does not matter where you are, it only matters where you go from there”
Written by Praveena Sail