A full-time job is risky

Someone said to me lately, regarding my career: “you're a big risk-taker, aren't you?”. I've been extremely fortunate, and very very lucky to have had these opportunities. I left a cushy design role at Code Computerlove. Then a cushy senior UX design job at the BBC. And after that, I left a cushy contracting position at the Co-op to start my own business. It may seem like I'm a big risk-taker. But really, I'm the opposite. I avoid risk as much as I can.

With every move, I was trying to escape the comfort I had settled into. To me, comfort is the biggest risk. I didn't want to stay somewhere so long that the grass grew between my toes. I didn't want to stake my whole life or career in one place. It just wasn't for me. My energy is that of a child on a playground slide. I'd work hard to get the job, and I'd enjoy myself briefly - until I was back down on the ground, wondering what to play on next.

For me, changing jobs wasn't risky. It strengthened my experience and status. And like most people, I didn't leave one position until the other was secured! The same was true when I took the 'leap' from a permanent role at the BBC to a contract with Co-op Bank, which I had lined up before I handed in my notice. At the time, it felt like a daunting plunge into the world of freelancing. But it was merely a difference in how and when I got paid. I still had a full-time job, I was just compensated differently. I found contracting suited me. It was like watching a movie. You know there's an ending, and it's more enjoyable because you know it's going to end.

But now I've taken the real plunge, which on paper - looks dead risky. I'm no longer employed by anyone full-time. I have a mix of steady clients I work for to make sure the bills are paid, and I earn a decent income from Workshop Tactics, which has given me the time and energy to grow it even more. Even the process in which I built Workshop Tactics was all about reducing the risk of doing the wrong thing.

So many people have been made redundant due to COVID. It's shown that relying on one source of income is a considerable risk. I'm lucky that I feel more stable than I've ever been - and fortunate that I've been able to make this position for myself. It's shown that the more decentralised your income, the less risky life is. The internet has made that reality available to nearly everyone.

In regards to being seen as a big risk-taker, I didn't quit everything and hope for the best. Nearly everything I do is to mitigate or reduce risk. Prototyping ideas, testing pricing, speaking to my customers, networking with people, building an audience, investing in the stock market. They all strengthen my options for income. It's only when I reach a level of confidence, do I pull the trigger. From a distance, it looks like I've crossed a fast-moving river in one bound. But close up, I'm crossing the river slowly, by feeling the stones.