Well. It’s now January 14th and I’ve successfully (perhaps?) navigated my first full week of self-employment. But who am I? A freelance writer? A creative entrepreneur? A lifestyle and interiors blogger? Self-employed? Labels-schmabels. I’m simply a girl about to turn 39 trying to navigate her way in this new-found life of not having to march to someone else’s drumbeat.
And let me tell you just HOW good it felt yesterday, writing this post without the Sunday dread hanging over me. You know it. The one that invariably manifests at some point in our school years, when you stay awake half the night wondering if there’s really any point in Monday morning’s Economics class because you hate it and you’re not going to do very well (true story, I got an E in my Economics A-Level. I still on the odd occasion have an anxiety dream about it).
I consider myself really lucky in the extreme that pretty much for 15 years of full-time employment I rarely felt the Sunday night dread. There were times when I could have strangled half my colleagues and felt pigeon-holed that my life was going nowhere. For the most part though I had a very long and happy full-time career. It’s only been the last 10 months or so that it all started hurtling downhill faster and more ungainly than Eddie’s famous jump.
So I’ve taken the plunge. Now here we are, footloose and fancy free, spending all my days in my pyjamas and watching endless episodes of Loose Women. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. You see, I’m institutionalised after so many years and used to running at least two jobs/projects at once. At one point for 6 years I was working full time AND running my own online retail business AND volunteering at Samaritans. Sitting around not doing much isn’t really something I’m good at. Netflix doesn’t count.
I have to admit, it’s a scary thought. Knowing you’ve left behind a really decent salary, a pension and private healthcare. At what cost though? I was beyond unhappy and that’s just not how I am as a person. I didn’t like that me, Pete didn’t like that me. And yes, this is risky. But not going for happiness in life is even more so.
I can honestly say that my first week surpassed even the most positive expectations I could possibly have had. If every week continues like this it would be the best dream ever. I’m under no illusion that there will be a lot of ups and downs but at the same time, a positive mindset is absolutely crucial to making this work.
Here’s some thoughts around what’s working for me in this brave new world.
Get Up Lins. GET UP!!!!!!
If you can believe it my alarm still goes off at 6.15. Pretty much the same time it would if I was going out to work. I’m neither a morning person or a night owl, by that I mean sleep isn’t my jam so getting up early and going to bed late isn’t an issue. I know in time I’ll probably adjust to different time-keeping but it’s not going to happen over night and even though I’m not one for leaping out of bed right away, it feels good to at least be awake and thinking about the day ahead.
Leaving The House
For the longest time this place has been my haven. My safety, shutting me away from the outside world when 2018 got too much. I closed the front door and felt like I was shutting all the shit out. Now I’m conscious that it could very quickly turn from being my saviour to my gaoler. My last day at work was Wednesday 19th December and I’ve left the house every single day since then. Even just a quick walk to the supermarket or a walk round the park. I have to leave the house. Fresh air, even in the cold and wet which I hate, and even though it’s London so it’s not really fresh at all, is such an important headspace clearer.
I’m now 100% signed up to the Law of Attraction camp. I believe you can manifest whatever you want if you’re positive enough and have the right attitude. No more “I hope this will work”. It has to be “It WILL work”. And I don’t mean to be trite, I’m not talking about things which are outside of our control such as cures for illnesses and so on. But how much work and/or opportunities I’m offered is entirely within my control. If I spend a week sitting in my pyjamas, not engaging with anyone, not answering my emails, not writing, then nothing good will come my way AND I’ll be pretty minging by the end of it.
I have to believe I will be offered collaborations and that abundance will come my way. I’ve been following a Money and Manifesting course and now have a £5 note sitting on my desk so every time I look up from work I see money. It’s not a bad word or a bad attitude. We should be living the dream life, not hoping for it.
Ok, so this kind of ties in nicely with the leaving the house every day because there are days when all I’ve done to leave the house is go to the gym and exercise. But it counts. And for me, it’s important. Again, no 10k runs. Just a little bit on the cross-trainer and then some on the weight machines. Or a nice long walk. Or a jog round the block. It annoys me when people see exercise as a bad thing or something to be judged. We wouldn’t not brush our teeth or shower, exercising is the same. It’s good for us at whatever pace we can manage, but it’s never bad for us.
Be Open Minded
I could write a post every day about the opportunities I’ve said yes to which have led to something else. A couple of years ago I went to a tiny little gathering to celebrate sofa showroom Arlo and Jacob’s 1st birthday. We made biscuits and enjoyed looking at the pretty sofas. A couple of months later, I was invited on a press trip to the Villeroy & Boch headquarters in Germany which was insane. Why? Because someone else had pulled out and the PRs on that campaign had recommended me to go after meeting me at the Arlo & Jacob event. Never rule something out or think it’s too insignificant or that it’s not for you. You don’t know when it might lead to something else.
I met up with one of my freelance friends on Thursday to do some co-working at the Barbican (again, that all important leaving the house and having a change of scenery). We were talking about how there is always an urge to remind people that this isn’t just us dossing around, we are working just under different parameters. However, it’s also important to remember (I think anyway) that we’re in a fortunate position to be able to dictate the terms of our work a little more. So if working on Sunday night means you can take Monday afternoon off to go to an exhibition or do something for you, that’s ok. Otherwise we end up still being wedded to this restrictive 9-5 setup.
Find Your Balls
In the past I never had confidence or bandwidth to always apply for campaigns. I often left emails unanswered or thought I wasn’t the right fit. I’ve even amazed myself with how ballsy I’ve been this week, getting in contact with PRs again, pitching for campaigns, applying for things because they sound like an interesting campaign. This is my business now and I have to treat it that way. Of course I want to be passionate about it, but it’s not a hobby and it’s not up to anyone else to define how I progress. I’ll be doing some really fun things over the next month or so, some which are blog related and others because I just fancied them (like a crazy 5k run I’ve signed up for in Central London at 7am one February morning) and if I didn’t have the courage to go for it, it wouldn’t happen.
My goodness I’ve just realised that this post is almost 1,500 words long…sorry gang and thank you SO much if you’ve managed to make it this far. All the months I was thinking about leaving work I really latched on to any and all information I could find from people who had done something similar and I always found it really admirable.
It’s still way too early to see if this is a viable future for me. Maybe in 6 months time I’ll miss the routine of a regular job and income, miss office banter and colleagues. Who knows? But right now, I’m enjoying Lins version 2.0. It’s time to make my rapidly impending 39th year the best of my life so far.
I’m so pleased to hear that you’ve gone freelance! 13yrs here and I wouldn’t change a thing. A great post!
Ah thanks so much Nicki, in honesty all I hear from people is that they would never go back. I already can’t imagine having to report to someone else now! X
Wow you seem to be in such a good routine already.
In some ways it will be more work for you those first few months as you find work.
But it sounds like you are having a great time.
Good luck xx
Thank you so much Kara, I feel so motivated because I know i never want to go back to the old life! Fingers crossed I can make it work Xx
This is such an exciting post to read. I know that at some stage I too want to leave the current 9-5 and start a new freelance life. I’m spending time thinking about how to make that happen at the moment. I’ll be really interested to follow your new freelance journey and pick up tips along the way. I am that person you talk about at the end of your post latching onto anything they can find. Wishing you all the very best of things in your new adventure.
Oh Angie thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment, it’s so much appreciated. I can honestly say it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done! Good luck to you X