If you’re just joining us for the interview series, please take a moment to read the introductory post here. You can also check out the first two interviews, with Toni and Tavana.
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Rachel Poli is a writer and blogger. She has many passions and hobbies such as reading, playing video games, photography, filmmaking, and baking. She is currently working on her first novel.
You can find her all over the Internet:
What made you want to start on this venture?
I decided it was time to do me. I had a full-time job with two part-time jobs and that left me little to no time to do what I’m truly passionate about – writing and blogging. I want to be a published author in the near future as well as blog full-time. Working so much wasn’t allowing me to give 100% to my novels or my blogs (I currently have two, working on a third). This is what I want to do for a career, so I thought it was time, while I’m still young, to take a chance and see if this path is the right one for me. I quit my job and now I’m able to spend my days acting like a full-time writer… I just need to start making some income from it!
How long did it take you to decide to take the first step towards change?
It took me over a year. Financially-wise, I’m in good shape. Yet, I panic about money all the time. I worked as an aide at a preschool. So, at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, I almost didn’t go back. I was looking for a job at a different school to make more money so I could work less (meaning, not have my part time jobs anymore) and that would free up my time to write and blog. I loved my job so much though that the money seemed like a minor thing. So I went back to my original job. Then, I almost didn’t go back again the 2016-2017 school year. When I found out I was going to be in the same classroom with the same two teachers I had worked with for the past couple of years, I decided to stay.
However, from September to December I kept flip-flopping about leaving. I was getting into a rut and I wasn’t able to get any writing or blogging done. I was tired all the time and was getting depressed. I almost left at Winter break, but again, I felt guilty. I didn’t want to leave my co-workers hanging in the middle of the year and I certainly didn’t want to leave the kids like that. In January, I decided I was definitely going to quit at the end of the school year. In May 2017, I handed my letter of resignation to my boss. And then, when it was official, I panicked some more. 🙂
What were some of the things that hold you back from taking chances or making changes?
There were two major factors: my job and money. I started babysitting when I was 16 and here I am, eight years later, still babysitting. Families have come and gone as the kids got older, but I always find a new family who needs me. I’ve also been teaching at preschools for a few years. In addition to that, I teach and run the Sunday school program at my church. I absolutely love teaching and I love the preschool age. I have so much fun and I absolutely loved my co-workers at the preschool that I just left. Teaching, just like writing, is a passion of mine. It was hard to choose between the two of them, but I had to take the chance.
Second, is money. Like I said earlier, I’m in pretty good shape but it’s something I worry about regardless. To get myself out of the house and to make some extra cash, I’ll still be
babysitting a couple hours a week. Plus, my blog has started to give me a little revenue. So, it’ll all be okay, but it’s still lingering in the back of my mind.
What tips do you have for building yourself up when self-doubt and negativity take over?
Honestly, just keep going. Everything I have done so far has stemmed from someone else. I started a blog in the first place because I heard it was a good thing to have as an author platform and I said, “I can do that.” And I did it. I never imagined how far it would take me, but I saw a few other blogs with strong, informative articles. I said, “I can do that.” So, I research Google, read up on books, throw in a little reality and experience from my own life, and write quality articles about writing and blogging on my blog that my readers seem to really enjoy. As corny as it sounds, you just have to believe in yourself. If it’s something you really want to do and you’re passionate and determined about it, just keep going. You can do it.
How do you feel about your success at this point?
It baffles me. I never thought I would ever make it this far. I started my blog in May 2012. I published articles at random times, sometimes going months without posting anything. I didn’t have a “niche.” I mean, it was writing, but a lot of my old posts were me complaining about how much homework I had.
In 2014 I decided to really commit to my blog, but it wasn’t until 2015 that I really figured things out. My blog has been strong and continuously growing ever since allowing me to feel confident about quitting my job. Because of that, I’ve learned a lot through research and other bloggers. I’ve made so many friends through blogging and I have made a lot of connections. Authors have contacted me about reviewing their books and a publicist found me as well. After doing book reviews for her for about a year, I now have an internship with her for the Summer of 2017. Crazy, right? If blogging with three jobs was able to get me this far in two and a half years, I can only imagine what the following year will bring me (and beyond).
What kinds of things lead to feelings of burnout for you? How do you deal with that?
Lack of time and guilt. I know that sounds weird, but there are days I wake up and I’m too tired to get any work done. Then I go to my full-time job, then my part-time job, then I come home and have to work in between taking a shower and eating/cleaning up after dinner. By the time I get to work, I say, “What’s the point?” and end up getting nothing done. Then, on my days off, I get pumped up to work, but since it’s the only day I have to relax, the relaxation takes over. Then I feel guilty at the end of the day because I didn’t get any work done. Then I get discouraged because I feel like I wasted my time.
It’s hard to deal with those feelings. I talk about it with my parents and my sisters. Talking about it helps because you get those feelings off your chest and they encourage me
that I’m doing the right thing. Plus, you need to take days off. You need to take breaks. Otherwise you’ll make yourself crazy.
What forms of self-care do you find work best for you?
If it’s cold out, I love to take baths. I get a book, a notebook, or just listen to music in the warm tub. It’s relaxing, calm, and private. In the warmer days, I love to be out
side. I take walks, throw a ball around with my dog, or just sit on my deck. Sometimes I work or read while out on the deck, but I don’t feel as stressed out doing it. The change in environment helps. I also love to clean. I’ll clean my whole house if given the time and energy. I feel good because I did something productive, but I was able to take a break from work.
When you know the next step to get where you want to be is going to require taking a chance that scares you, how do you prepare yourself to take the leap? Or do you just go for it?
I panic. I wish I could answer this with a more uplifting and inspiring tip, but the truth is I just panic. I’m so thankful that I have a wonderful support group such as my parents and sisters. I panic to them and they reassure me everything will be okay and they tell me to go for it. Eventually, and reluctantly, I do go for it.
What are you afraid of in relation to this venture?
Money, mostly. I’ll still be babysitting so I’ll have some sort of small income and I have a decent amount of savings. I don’t have any big bills and I still live with my parents (I talked about it with them before I officially quit my job and decided to take this leap of faith). But it’s still something in the back of my mind.
I guess I should also say fail
ure as well. I mean, everyone is afraid of failing at some point in their life. I’m more concerned about money, but I guess if this doesn’t work out for me like I hope it will, I’ll have teaching to fall back on. I love teaching and it was hard for me to leave, so it wouldn’t be too bad to get back into it. But I know I’ll be disappointed.
What is your favorite positivity practice or quote?
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” –Dr. Seuss
I have had a lot of changes in my lifetime, just like the next person. I’ve had deaths in the family, one unexpected one that changed my life forever. I’ve dealt with bullying, friends coming and going, been diagnosed with anxiety, I lost my teaching job when the school had to close leaving a wonderful group of co-workers, children, and families. Now I’m leaving another teaching job, which is very bittersweet for me, in order to pursue another passion. Opportunity knocked and I let it in. When I opened that door, another closed. I’m grateful for all the memories, but that chapter of my life is over. Now I’m writing the next chapter.