Sunday, 17 November 2013

9 1/2 things I've learned from the past 12 months.

On 16th Nov 2012 I left full time permanent employment to launch into the next phase of our new life, full time freelance with no safety net of regular employment so, was I four parts bonkers afterall?  Here's what I've learned in the past 12 months.

1. Your fortunes can change on the ping of an email.  Over the past 12 months I've had emails cancelling courses, slashing budgets, offering me life changing writing commissions, inviting me to take part in daring adventures and telling me about a huge tax rebate.  Turns out the last one was spam (which I twigged before I clicked) but it was a nice feeling for 30 seconds.  The only time I get a good news from HMRC and it's fake.  Figures.
Do stuff that scares you.

2.  You can live off a lot less than you think you can.  Mortgage, heating and food were our priorities and everything else was a luxury.  Less meat and more vegetables makes a meal go a lot further and is probably a lot healthier too.  Nights out were a distant memory and fish and chips on expenses were the highlight of many a week.

3.  Say "yes" to things even if they scare you.  When people asked if I could do something that would take me way outside my comfort zone my response has always been to say "yes" and then work out how to do it.  Once you've committed to doing something it focuses the mind and you invariably figure it out.  Steve has said that "I'll think of something" should be put on my headstone. (I've since learned that Richard Branson says the same thing, so I'm in good company!)

4.  Don't underestimate what you can achieve.  A year ago I expected to be making my money from delivering training courses which would fund my writing habit.  Turns out now I earn most of my money from writing with 2 - 3 training days a month topping up the coffers.  I am utterly delighted about this as it's more than I ever dared to dream for.  I clearly need bigger dreams.

Random badger photo, because he's lovely.
5.  Keep plugging away.  There have been many days when I've wondered if it's all worth it and a few where I've thought of packing it all in and scanning the local job pages.  I keep the grim stuff away from the blog because a) it doesn't makes pleasant reading and b) there are millions of people dealing with stuff way worse than the stresses I have and that's what keeps me going.  I look around at the people who love and support me, count my blessings and get back on the horse.  (Though this is usually preceded by tears of frustration and a few large glasses of wine.)

6.  Stay focused on your own plan.  I learned this from watching the Olympics where athlete after athlete said in interviews that their key to success was keeping focused on their own performance rather than worrying about what everyone else was doing.  Keep an eye on other folks and learn from them if you need to but don't get distracted by whatever it is they're up to; you'll have enough on your plate achieving your own goals without worrying about what everyone else is doing.

Don't know who wrote this. Happy
to credit if anyone can help.
7.  Celebrate the small stuff.  Don't keep waiting for the big contracts to land before you do the happy dance, get excited about the small things too - it all adds up and before you know it you'll be happy dancing all over the place.  I've even had a quick shimmy along the aisles in Asda much to Steve's despair.

8.  It's OK to take a day off occasionally.  When you work for yourself there's a temptation to work every hour god sends but all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and Beth a very grouchy girl.  The world will not end if you take 1 day off.  The smart phone and the lap top both have "off" buttons and it's important to know where they are.  Finding your own "off" button however is an entirely different matter and I'm still not 100% sure where mine is.

9.  Keep your sense of humour.  This above all else is essential. We have been let down, rained on, almost conned, covered in mud, terrified, ignored and frustrated over the past 12 months though admittedly not usually all on the same day.  The ability to laugh at yourself and find the absurd in every situation will do wonders for your stress levels and confuse everyone around you.

9 1/2 And lastly, just half a lesson here as it's one we've always tried to live our life by, and no-one says it better then this man...