Do you want to hear something equal parts weird and exciting?
1 year ago today was my first official day working for myself.
Yep. 365 days since Operation #freedaire was declared an almighty success.
If I’m honest, I kind of thought I’d be back on the hunt for a day job around the 3 month mark, but hey, everyone’s wrong (very, very) occasionally.
Without a doubt, this has been a year filled with trials, tribulations, terrors, tea, toast and tears (not always mine). But I’ve also had amazing moments. I’ve made brave moves. I’ve worked with wonderful, inspiring clients. I’ve learned a helluva lot too.
In fact, that’s why I’m here today. I want to share the biggest, bestest, knowledge bombs I’ve picked up over the past year.
The other day I went for coffee with my grandparents, and Grandad reminded me of a conversation we had a few years ago.
He’d asked me if I’d ever thought of working for myself, and my response was something along the lines of “well THAT sounds hideous”.
I think at that point I’d dreamed of being an eccentric academic, or a pencil skirt clad corporate superstar. One of the two.
But what if you fall into running a business? What if you’ve taken the scenic route, and dabbled in a bunch of other things? Does that make you an imposter?
I don’t think so.
I’ve noticed a bit of a trend in the online business world – lots of stories opening with “I always knew…”, or “I’d always planned…”, or “It started when I made my first million – I’d just turned four, and…”.
But I’ve come to realise that I CAN do this, even if it’s a new dream.
I believe that working through different ideas, and testing different career paths puts you in a position to really KNOW what you should be doing. That’s how you learn what you want (and don’t want) from life. That clarity is important.
Time is sacred.
Working from home in no way means that all time spent at home is free for business consumption.
Boundaries are key, and so is down time.
From the get go I’ve been pretty strict about my working hours. Not because I’m some kind of organisational ninja, but because I know the temptation of a Netflix binge. Also, I really struggle to get stuff done after the fella gets home, so I structure my work time around that.
The unbeatable side effect is that I’ve given myself all this extra time to read brilliant books and explore my many creative hobbies.
In addition to set working hours, I’ve add another layer of structure to my days. Through the magic of Google Calendar, I’ve segmented my time into themed blocks, which I then allocate specific tasks to. Above all else, this helped me stop trying to do too much in a single day (or week).
Also, it prompts me to take regular breaks – something I never did before.
When you start working for yourself you KNOW it’s going to be isolating, but somehow it still came as a surprise to me.
I’ve managed to find a place where I feel much more connected, but it takes some planning.
The first step was to get a dog – so this week also marks the 1 year anniversary of having this girl in my life:
The second step was to add a bunch of stuff to my calendar (and I mean that literally, I have reminders set up for all of these).
- A morning check-in with my biz bestie Tara (we swap playlists and share our to-do lists for the day).
- An even dog walk with Jason – sacred family time!
- A Monday morning Skype with Emma, my accountability buddy.
- Slack chats/quick catch-ups with each of my clients.
- Phone calls with my grandparents and sister.
- Lunch with a real “in person” friend
- Dinner with the future in-laws
- American Horror Story and pizza with my two closest friends
It’s a careful balancing act of introversion and anchoring myself to the real world, but it works.
You’re still raw cookie dough.
(Gold star to anyone that picks up on the pop culture reference there.)
When you do a particular thing, and you do it well, it’s easy to think you have all the knowledge you need.
But you don’t. Nobody is ever fully baked. There are always new things to learn and new experiences to be had, and keep evolving always.
On the flip side, it’s easy to use learning new things as another source of procrastination. Implement every lesson you come across and you’ll go far.
Not every client is for you.
This is something I believe fervently.
There are some people that you shouldn’t be working with. The ones that drain you of your very lifeblood. The ones that you dread seeing an email from. The ones that refuse to hear what you’re saying, even though they’re paying you to say it.
These people are ruining what should be inspiring, fulfilling work, so don’t even entertain them.
I’m not saying the world is filled with total joy vampires – it’s just filled with people that aren’t quite the right fit. That’s fine, you won’t be everyone’s cup of tea either.
I’m super strict about only working with people I enjoy. It can feel terrifying, especially when you think about the finances, but it’s so, so worth it. Working with the wrong people stops you from being able to perform at your best (and definitely gets in the way of exciting projects with the RIGHT people).
Trust me on this one, even if you ignore everything else I say.
I could keep spurting tips at you all day, but these are the most important, most impactful things I’ve learned over the past year.
Who knows where I’ll be this time next year? All I can say is that I’m feeling optimistic, and I hope you’ll still be here by then!