There are days when we all want to quit. There are days when we really hate our boss, the tasks, the office, the people we work with. For those of us that are already VAs, there are even days when working for ourselves can bring on the same feelings – yes, even when the boss is us!

For many of us, the desire to leave our day job exists long before we’re ready to do anything about it. So what converts negative dislike to positive action?

Seeking perspective:

Ask yourself some tough questions:

  1. Exactly yourself what isn’t working right now? Is it your employer, your colleagues, your clients, your working environment, the tasks in front of you – or is it just you being out of sorts?
  2. Are there things you can change, right here, right now, that would allow you to fit better into the place and the job, or is it really time for you to make a move?
  3. Ask somebody you trust for some input on your situation so you can have an objective view. And when they give you that feedback, listen! It can be difficult to hear things that don’t fit with our preconceptions but an outside perspective can give us a better view of reality.

If, after this level of analysis, you decide it’s really time to go – and that might mean leaving employment to become our own boss, or letting a client know that you’re going to stop working with them because the task or the relationship isn’t delivering what you hoped – what happens then?

What quitting means:

  • On one level, prior to quitting, our commitment to work diminishes. It just does. Part of us has already moved on and if we aren’t aware of this tendency we’ll become purely mechanical, showing up, or doing the work, in body but not in spirit.
  • On another level, fear will start to determine our responses. Even if we know we’re doing the right thing, all the groundwork is in place and we’ve got a realistic view of our future, we’ll still tend to be fear-driven when starting a new venture. It’s normal.

The fear response is partly designed to keep us safe. Our heightened awareness to new situations gives us the ability to spot trouble quicker and move away from it faster, or simply change direction. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be doing it, it just helps us make the best decisions at the time, assuming you don’t let fear take over entirely.

If fear is stopping you from making the move to become a VA, or from taking the first steps of expanding your existing VA business, here are some tips that may help overcome that fear and help you move forward:

Establish a new relationship to work:

  1. Remember that when you leave a job it affects everybody you work with. Discuss your reasons with your boss and colleagues once you’ve made the decision, and explain exactly what it is you’re going to do. Don’t forget, it’s not uncommon for a VA to find that one of her first clients is the very organisation she just left … build bridges as you go – don’t burn them.
  2. Use this time to check and double check your short-term plan. Do your finances really stack up? For new VAs it can take a few months for regular money to come in, so get somebody else to check your figures and question your assumptions. You might find you need an interim solution – perhaps a part-time job to tide you over the first months of working for yourself. Or perhaps you’re a VA thinking of letting go of a client that isn’t working out – maybe you could consider hiring an associate to handle that work for you – therefore expanding your business, rather than reducing the client-base. Many VAs have found that greater success comes from recognising that they don’t have all the skills their growing business requires, and so find associates that do.
  3. Keep focused on the long-term plan. There may be rocky weeks, or even months, but a good business plan will keep you moving forward when your emotions falter. If you’ve sat in the office all week getting frustrated at the lack of work, or feeling unsure of what your next move should be, it’s difficult to go to a breakfast event and network like crazy. But if that’s what’s in your marketing plan, you’re more likely to get the motivation and enthusiasm to do it, and therefore more likely to see results.
  4. Have a confidante. Whether it’s your friend, partner, a career coach or another VA, ensure your emotional needs will be met. Moving on is frightening and if you don’t give yourselves space to explore your feelings and time to come to terms with them, you’ll become paralysed and not able to move forward as quickly or as positively as you’d like. A weekly check-in with a sympathetic but honest person is a fantastic way to put your fears in perspective, celebrate your successes and ensure you’re not sacrificing yourself to your business. Done over a glass of wine or during a relaxing walk in the country, this kind of emotional health examination can keep you robust and centred while you explore the often demanding world of VA work.