Pull Quote: My future is looking pretty damn exciting now, thanks to WordPress, and yours can too.

Love your work

“Hi, everyone. I’m Lisa… and I’m a WordPress evangelist.”

“Hi, Lisa.”

“It’s been 24 hours since my last WordPress plug to a non-WordPress community member, and it feels really freakin’ fantastic.”

I honestly cannot stop talking about WordPress as its presence grows in my life. Here is my story.

In the beginning…

I wanted to be like Kevin Roberts (ex-CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide. He was based in NZ for some time, and in the Auckland office he used to have a “Stairway to Kevin”. Epic.), so scoring a job in media advertising was a dream come true. I couldn’t believe my luck when my starter job out of University landed me a position at a TV Network in the advertising sales department. When I left there for a job at a top media agency, I had stars in my eyes.

And so began my stint in media advertising. I say stint because 8 years doesn’t seem like much time in a career – but it was long enough. I’m not sure where those 8 years went, but wow, they went fast. As my 8th year in media ticked over, I faced a terrifying, life-altering decision. Is this really what I wanted to do for the rest of my professional life?

No. It wasn’t. And this realization was heartbreaking and liberating at the same time.

In the end…

I chose to leave behind an industry full of people I love; who I enjoyed working with and socializing with (it truly is the connections I miss the most). I left an industry that taught me numerous life lessons, various transferable skills, had some amazing perks, and allowed me to make some lifelong friends who I am eternally grateful for. But ultimately, I left because I physically and mentally could not face each day doing something I no longer loved (for various reasons).

The other side of the coin (and let me tell you, ~NZD$100k is good coin), is that I had developed a bad taste in my mouth for what I was doing as a job. More and more it felt wrong to be spending millions of marketing dollars a year on ancient principles, when I would rather be helping people by giving them something useful (which I’m passionate about) that helps them make their own lives better. The ultimate kicker was experiencing what I consider “workplace bullying” for the first time in my career – and I broke.

We lose ourselves in the things we love(d)

I want to preface this section by saying my old job was not all bad. Overall, I had an incredible time in the industry, but everything happens for a reason, and I was not meant to be in Media Advertising forever.

Looking back, the media advertising industry cost me the following; my true love for advertising, two (romantic) relationships, lost time with those I love (and loved), it made me a borderline alcoholic, it increased my stress and anxiety levels, it fed my depression, and left me with extreme burnout – which I’ve literally only just got over, and it has been almost 6 months since my last day.

Over those last 6 months of my time in media, my work suffered, my mental and physical health suffered, and I woke up with a feeling of crippling dread that I had to go to work every day. Money became less important than my health and wellness. For the sake of my clients, my colleagues, my family, my friends, and most importantly, myself, I had to get out. So I did.

Thanks to perhaps the most inspirational, motivating, person I’ve ever met, I’ve finally made a change for the better. Andrew Munro – I’m looking at you.

I still have my advertising hat, and always will – it’s just currently in storage at the back of my wardrobe. That chapter of my life is over, now. In the beginning, I wanted it badly, so I went and got it. I loved it (for a time), I lived it, I left it – and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

But starting again in a completely new industry isn’t easy. In fact, scratch that… it’s TERRIFYING.

For love, not money

Thankfully, my transition to a new industry was made easier with Andrew’s belief in me – even when I was so close to giving up on myself multiple times. For some people (read: me), it’s not as easy to motivate yourself – but when someone believes in you enough, you do start believing in yourself, and you start feeling motivated more naturally. And, when you eventually get there for the first time, it’s glorious. Sometimes I still struggle a bit, but I’m becoming a believer in me.

The more I saw how the WordPress community was accepting of “outsiders” or people with little knowledge of what WordPress is, the more I wanted to be involved. A small flame was lit when Andrew helped me launch my first foray into WordPress in April 2014 whilst I was still working in media. He helped me create the WordMaid (literally and figuratively) by uncovering one of my major passions, and building me a beautiful brand and website. It has been a rocky start – launching when I was still in a full-time job meant I couldn’t contribute the mind-power and time to doing an amazing job, so I had to let some customers go, and sometimes my response times were slow. Now I occasionally have the odd WordMaid enquiry come in, though I’m yet to give a significant amount of my time to it.

To date, the WordMaid has made $3,135 in standalone revenue. But this is only the beginning.

Additionally, Andrew introduced me (electronically) to Pippin Williamson, who gave me an incredible opportunity to be involved with one of his (and Andrew’s) projects. I am now supporting myself with a part-time support role with AffiliateWP, helping out with documentation, and I’ve also started contributing some content. Oh, and I LOVE it.

As for my health, I’m happier, have less stress, and I have more time to focus on me and the things I care about. I’m not chained to my desk from 9 to 5, and I don’t have to sit in meetings for hours talking about things I should be doing. I can cook when I want to, exercise when I want to, go out when I want to, walk my dog when I want to… and the list goes on. I’ve discovered freedom, and it’s amazing.

If you feel like you’re stuck or trapped in your current career, it’s never too late to make a change. If you’ve tried to convince yourself you are in the right career, but have realized it’s not what it was cracked up to be, there is something else out there. And if you think you can’t do anything else, I promise you, you can.

Why WordPress?

Why not? I am now being paid to help out on a new challenge and new interest of mine (affiliate marketing), and also to do something I love (create content and copy editing). Isn’t that what we’re all searching for? :)

A core principle in the WordPress community (and life) is paying it forward. Andrew helped me leave behind the stress and drama of my previous career. I’ve seen this mentioned in multiple HeroPress posts, but it’s completely true – what you put in to the WordPress community, you get out tenfold.

Yeah, I am passionate about it. I’m a bit of an evangelist, and I’ve barely dipped my toe in the water. I’m super excited for this fresh new year to actually dive in, get involved, and give back. WordPress is an industry, a community, and a family that I didn’t realize existed until it was shown to me. It’s welcoming, open, and transparent (and profitable). And it’s incredibly easy to become a part of it if you give it dedication and time.

Ok, ok, I’ll stop (for now)

If I could leave you with one take-away from my experience, it would be this: stop living a life you don’t love, and start living one you do. And start today.

I think the incredible Miles Davis (honorary namesake of WordPress version 1.0) nailed it when he said: “My future starts when I wake up every morning.”

My future is looking pretty damn exciting now, thanks to WordPress, and yours can too.

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