Recently I accepted a transfer to another state for my day job. I made the move for a variety of reasons, but the highest on the list was quality of life. I had become increasingly disillusioned with being just another rat in a big pointless race, and desperately wanted to find a slower pace.

With that in mind, I found a similar position in a smaller town. The position had the potential for a net pay cut, but an overall quality of life raise.

Good trade, if you ask me.

During the move, my schedule developed about a six week disconnect – we sold our house almost a month before my last day at the old job, so my family went to the new location ahead of me to get settled. I spent my final three weeks at the old job living in short term rentals and flying to my new home on weekends to be with my family.

After my last day of work, I took about three weeks of vacation time that I’d scheduled last year – three weeks of family time, getting settled, and getting back into writing.

That three weeks killed the employee in me.

As I adjusted to working on projects of my own choosing – on my own schedule – I began to realize that the move had been like emergency surgery to repair a damaged work situation.

But the patient died on the table.

Today was my first day at the new location, and although the people seemed very nice and there does seem to be a great deal less drama in the workplace here – I came to a sobering realization.

Changing my location was not the solution.

I needed to change my occupation.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind work, and I have no intention of quitting my job tomorrow. It pays the bills and allowed me to move to a place we really want to be. There is honor in hard work, regardless of what you do.

But what happened today was an epiphany of sorts – a switch was thrown inside my brain, and I stopped defining myself the way I have for more than three decades. I’m done seeing myself as somebody else’s employee.

While I was on vacation, working on getting my writing back on track, I got a taste of what it’s like to hustle on your own projects, rather than hustling to keep up with a schedule imposed on you by others.

It’s harder.

I can’t just wait around to be told what to do – I have to figure it out on my own, and then I have to kick myself in the ass in order to get it all done.

It’s scarier.

There is the very real possibility that I could make the wrong decision. I could screw it all up. I could invest a bunch of time and effort and end up with a fat goose egg to show for it – and my family is depending on me.

But it’s better.

I’m happier when I’m pursuing my own dreams. I have the satisfaction of knowing that no matter the outcome, I’m doing something that I love, and I’ll never have to regret not trying.

When I graduated high school (about a thousand years back), somebody asked me what I wanted to be.

Care to guess my answer?

It certainly wasn’t, “I really want to be an employee!”

Not even close.

Back then, despite being a hormone-poisoned teenager without a clue in my head, I still managed to come up with an answer that all these years later would still resonate.

“I’d like to own my own business.”

The only mistake I made after giving that answer was to not act on that dream.

Instead, I bought into the lie that working for someone else was somehow better, more responsible, more accepted by society. Believing that, I allowed myself to become an employee – not just for one employer or another – but permanently, in my mind. That was how I saw myself.

Until now.

Now I see myself as the one responsible for my life and livelihood – not my employer.

I’m free to pursue whatever project or dream I want in life – in full knowledge that I may screw it up, or it may be hard work.

I’m okay with that.

Because my recent vacation killed the employee in me.

And the self-employed writer in me won’t be mourning the loss.