I’ll be honest: this time last year I had no idea if I would still be in business a whole year later. I was just a few months into my brand-new writing career, and though it was going well on the surface, everything felt very unstable and fragile – almost like a dream I would wake up from at any moment.
Well-meaning people reassured me that even if my venture wasn’t successful in the long run, it would all be OK because I could just go back into full-time work. My heart sank whenever I heard this, because I didn’t want to waste all that grit and commitment it had taken to leave full-time work!
Going backwards, I decided, would not be an option.
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 2018 swims into view (note that the best thing about these 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 – meaning you may 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 will…learn to compartmentalise
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 this has helped me to finally complete three 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 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 a bad payback for a bit of hard work and self-belief, is it?
It will 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.
This is my last blog post for 2017, so whether you’re employed, freelancing or the owner of a company turning over millions (in which case, need any writing done?) – have a fabulous Christmas and see you in 2018, raring to go!