One of my favourite clients just asked me how come I’m so busy? (Actually, I think he now qualifies as a friend, given that I send him messages about Junior’s escapades, he sends me pictures of his curtains, and, even though we’re usually on different continents, we literally laugh all the time we’re working together).
It made me think.
Because I am. Really busy. With interesting, challenging work from interesting, challenging (in a good way!) people that I’m learning as much from as I’m giving to. Win-win.
So what changed?
1) I learned to accept what I’m good at.
I’d been in marketing for so long that I really thought I needed a change. After years of self-employment, and for want of more stimulating conversation than the dog could offer, I started working in a customer-focussed sales role I really enjoyed, while still dithering about, trying to decide where my side-hustle lay.
I got great feedback. The customers loved me for my problem-solving approach. I had the freedom to devise new processes and fix what needed fixing, without having to ask permission. My boss liked that I challenged everything (even though it also really annoyed her!). I loved the job, as it fed my need to troubleshoot and create.
And then the company restructured. Every year for 3 years (warning bells, anyone?). The talented managers (including my boss) left and it wasn’t fun anymore. So I did give up the day job.
More dithering ensued.
Because I love the training environment and the work I (still) do with GroundTruth and Team Thinking, I tried, and liked working as a Teaching Assistant. The children were a source of joy and inspiration. But as all the amazing Teaching Assistants out there know, it doesn’t really pay the bills, does it?
So I started saying ‘yes’ again to anything freelance that came my way, and if I didn’t know how, I learned. I found out that I’m a really good technical bid-writer – who knew! And that Instagram is not all bikini shots and mirror-selfies. No, really…
I re-discovered the fun. I was learning all the time and the work built up, which brings us to:
2) I learned to say “No, thanks”.
“No, thanks” to the inner voice that tried to make me feel awkward about charging for just a couple of hours’ work (or any work at all!).
“No, thanks” to that same voice that told me everyone else’s way was better.
“No, thanks” to the clients looking for a task rabbit on the cheap.
“No, thanks” to the clients that paid for my expertise, and then did the opposite.
“No, thanks” to the clients that paid for X, but then wanted Y and Z for free.
And this one’s controversial – “No thanks” to outside work on Fridays. That’s a key one – it’s my keepy-uppy, CPD day. I don’t sit in an office absorbing all the trending social media algorithm-busters from the whizz-kid millennials raised on digital for breakfast, so I have to go the long way round. And I’m middle-aged. It takes longer. I need my rest.
And that, Dear Reader (if I may borrow from one of our greatest authors), is where I’m at. And how I got here, to this joyous situation whereby I’m squeezing ideal projects from ideal clients into every spare nook and cranny.
Until the Bots take over, that is…