Yes, I know. Making new year’s resolutions is a fool’s task.
January is a supremely rubbish month, after all. It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s dank…and our roads are strewn with stripped, suddenly rejected Christmas trees.
And yet, there’s still something just a little bit irresistible about becoming a brand new you, isn’t there?
Every year I tell myself I’m not going to make any resolutions, but as a new year rolls around, I’m compelled to think about just what a new and improved me might look like.
I’ve been a freelance writer for two-and-a-half years now. I’m far from the ‘planning’ type, but committing myself to life as a freelancer has meant taking a long, hard look at how I approach my working days.
Keeping myself motivated – and alive! – has been easier on some days than others, and there are a good few lessons I’ve learned along the way that have definitely helped.
So if you’re considering a freelancing life, or you’re already living one and are feeling a bit stuck or disheartened, you could do worse than setting a few positive resolutions as 2019 swims into view.
(Note that the best thing about these particular resolutions is that you can smoke, drink and overeat as much as you like).
I will…change my attitude to money
If other people’s “hooray, it’s payday!” memes on social media make you feel a bit depressed and sorry for yourself, it’s time to change your outlook.
If you’re a freelancer, you can’t look at your bank account in the same way as an employee does. You just can’t, or you’ll be depressed all the time. In fact, you might as well go back to being employed.
Instead, you’re going to have to accept the fact that when it comes to money, no two days will be quite the same. You’re going to have to get comfortable with not having quite enough sometimes, and a bit more than usual on others. You’re going to have to trust your ability to make money by going out and finding more clients, and then by being really good at what you do.
The great news is, if you can just manage those two things, you’ll be fine. You really will.
I get a lot more work done since I mastered the art of focusing on and compartmentalising tasks.
“It’s amazing what you can get done in an hour,” one of my super-organised CV clients told me once, before explaining that she was able to get mountains of work done because she would set a timer for an hour and focus on one task completely, before moving to another for the next hour.
And so on.
Eliminate distractions too, so you can make sure your task-time is well spent. I use a free app called ‘Self Control’ to block out the internet while I work, and it’s helped me complete three rather lengthy books this year.
I will…invest in my development
There’s no training department when you work for yourself, but the great thing about that is you don’t need anybody else’s permission to arrange that course you’ve had your eye on.
It can be really tempting to try and save money by just getting all your work done and learning on the job, or resolving to book some training once you’ve hit a certain financial milestone.
But investing time and money in honing your skills and learning new ones now will not only make you better at what you do, it will help cement your commitment to the freelance life.
You’re serious about this.
I will…take calculated risks
This is a sort-of continuation of the last resolution. Training and coaching count as calculated risks, if you’re spending money you don’t really have at that moment.
Ditto website creation and marketing costs (or in my case, spending valuable time on writing books nobody’s paying me for and that have no guarantee of actually selling once they’re published!)
Remember that if you don’t take a few calculated risks, you’re probably not going to move very far forwards. We’ve all got our limits in business, which is why even long-established companies will call in professional consultants on occasion.
I will not…panic!
It’ll take time, effort and patience to build something great.
But rather wonderfully, if you put in that time, effort and patience then you will build something great.
You’ll build a career and a reputation you can be proud of, and you’ll get paid for doing something you actually enjoy. That’s not bad payback for a bit of hard work and self-belief, is it?
It will also help if you can share your highs and lows with your favourite people, and acknowledge compliments when you get them.
Oh – and don’t forget to take care of yourself, too.
Here’s wishing you a very happy 2019, whoever you are and whatever you do.