Why I Left My Business

My client leaned across the table towards me and asked me to explain why the numbers for their equity accounts on their balance sheet seemed high. The intentness of their eyes shot pressure directly into my stomach. I wanted to cry because I couldn't give a crap about why their numbers seemed high. Yet, I sat there contorting my face into gestures of pleasantries, while explaining that I needed some time to look into it. It took all possible forces of self-restraint to hold myself back from screaming, "I don't know and I don't give a damn!" I knew I could not put on this act any longer.

My answer was not very convincing and I felt my own incongruence through every fiber of my muscles. 

Bookkeeping had become so boring to me that when sitting down to do it, throwing plates against the wall seemed like a better alternative. The mask of feigned interest I wore with my clients had become very scratchy and ill-fitted, like a kid wearing his Halloween costume all night who, without a second thought, yanked it off on the way home because he couldn't stand the rub any longer.

However, I couldn't just yank the mask right off. I was a rational, responsible adult with bills to pay and clients to please. 

These feelings of repulsion and distaste about bookkeeping had been surfacing stronger and stronger for months. I wondered somehow how I'd ever gotten to this place. Trapped, with a full-service 6 year old bookkeeping business with 5 other contractors now partnering with me.

From a young age, I never imagined that I'd be a bookkeeper. In fact, if I were asked to write a list of 25 professions that I wanted to do as a child that probably wouldn't have even been number 25.   

Yet, I was obviously scared to find a way out. It was hard to imagine what, practically speaking, I could even do next.  

Sure, my mom had always told me that I could do anything I put my mind too. "You're so talented Kristen. There's very little you can't do." 

"Thanks, Mom." I'd shrug off the feelings of pride and pressure. Maybe I could do lots of things. I'd worked dozens of jobs since my youth and proved I could step up to most challenges. But I was haunted with the feeling that I needed to strike out of my comfort zone in order to pursue the things I was born to do. Could there be some work for me where I would feel deeply satisfied while offering a valuable service to the world?

My calling, to that point, hadn't dropped out of the sky and found me. I felt confused and unsure and impractical for wanting to start all over with some career in my 40's. Every idea my creative brain threw out on the table to consider, the editor brain brain stamped with a bright red "Ixnay". So my mind constantly drew blanks. I knew I needed to get out of my own head, move beyond my own self-sabotaging behaviors, and get support.

So I called a counselor with coaching skills that I'd been wanting to call. We talked about what I wanted to do and what was holding me back. After several months he helped me set a target date to sell the clients for my business and made plans for a sabbatical to figure things out. From the moment I left his office that day with plans to leave my business, I felt 50 pounds lighter. It has been an unregrettable journey ever since.