So, here we are, more than a quarter of the way through 2019 already. Blimey.
At the risk of this post being ever-so-slightly self-indulgent, I’m revisiting something I wrote at the end of last year, which was all about what I’d learned, work-wise, in the previous 12 months and what I hoped to take from those learnings into 2019.
No-one gives you appraisals or reviews when you’re self-employed.
And arguably, as I outlined in the original post, that’s when you need them most. A little check-in, to ensure you’re on the right track and haven’t disappeared down a black hole of self-doubt and self-sabotage..
So that’s what I’m doing today, checking in on myself again, three (and a half) months later. Hopefully if you’re in a similar position to me, this might be useful/encouraging.
Spoiler: I haven’t smashed all of my objectives, and in some cases, I haven’t even got started yet. BUT THAT’S OK. Because some progress is still progress.
LEARNING 1: You can do anything but not everything
The goal/actions I set myself: Break down my time into two-hour slots and plan work days properly, in advance.
And tell guilt to scarper.
Progress made: This was all about the realisation that now, with around 20 hours of Ted-free work time each week, I need to be more realistic about what I can actually do in those hours. I work part-time, not full-time.
It’s about not over-promising to myself nor to other people, flogging my guts (bleeeee) in the process.
Admittedly, I still don’t always plan work days properly. Planning in itself takes time, and even though it’s counterproductive, there’s a part of my brain that tells me that I’m needlessly eating into my precious allocation of ‘free’ hours by planning properly.
It’s bonkers, really. Because it means that sometimes I need to wait a while – i.e. two cups of tea (minimum!) – for my brain to kick into gear on one of my Ted-free days before I actually identify my priorities and get moving.
I’m slowly getting back on track with this. And on the positive side, I’m much less likely now to tell myself that I ‘should’ be doing x, and why haven’t I done y yet and all that rubbish.
Also, a recent revelation: planning by quarter, not just week to week (or day to day!) is VERY helpful indeed. Who knew???!!! (Every organised self-employed person on the planet, probably…)
Ideally, I’d like to plan longer-term, but given that things will hopefully be thrown into lovely chaos in approximately four months’ time with baby 2’s arrival, I’m cutting myself a bit of slack with that one.
LEARNING 2: Don’t rely on one or two income streams
Action set: Look at diversifying my income streams and put plans in place to make it happen.
Progress made: After losing two revenue streams last year, I wanted to look at ways I could ensure I wouldn’t be reliant on such a small number of jobs again. I was particularly keen to explore ‘passive’ income – i.e. where I’m not reliant on the decisions of clients/editors to ensure that money lands in my bank account on any given month.
These are still long-term goals. However, I’ve recognised that there is definitely more work to be done in establishing my writing work and my blog BEFORE throwing myself into new projects.
(Perhaps I should have taken my own advice from Learning 1 about not over-promising here?!)
That’s not to say it’s all on the backburner completely.
New action for Q2? To at least dedicate some time to planting the seeds for the passive income idea, even if I don’t have anything up and running before the year is out.
LEARNING 3: Self-doubt is negated by ACTION
Action set: whenever self-doubt creeps in, acknowledge it and then DO SOMETHING. Send the email, publish the blog post, arrange a meeting. JFDI.
Progress made: I love this point. I’ve started following it more. As a result, I’ve got much better at sharing my work, people are reading my blog, I started a newsletter, I held my first event, got a decently-paid writing commission with a new publication… all due to taking action, rather than allowing self-doubt to take over. Rejoice!
LEARNING 4: Be consistent
Action set: Keep showing up. ‘Be a disciplined half-ass’ – one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite books, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It means stop striving for perfection and instead keep on creating. Amen.
Progress made: I’ll perhaps give myself a C+ for this; I’m definitely not an A yet. I know I’m on the right path, but I do keep diverting and thinking ‘maybe I should focus on this’ and ‘hmmm, what about doing that?’ It’s natural; I won’t beat myself up about it, as long as I’m sort of sticking to the path I have in mind.
LEARNING 5: Always bring value
Action set: Continue to self-monitor and try to provide information and/or entertainment in all blog/content output!
Progress made: I think this was a strange thing to include in my ‘end of year review’, but I’m glad I did because it shows that I’m actually thinking about being of service rather than just chin-stroking and pontificating like a self-obsessed twerp (she says, while writing a post that is bordering on self-indulgent twaddle…).
I think I’m doing OK with this – if we ignore this post, ho ho.
There’s a fine balance to be achieved between sharing my own learnings and everyday stories because they can actually help, and being a self-obsessed twerp, but hopefully I sit on the right side of the twerp-ometer. Usually.
LEARNING 6: Moving sideways is still moving
Action set: Just keep moving, creating. Don’t be afraid of failure.
Progress made: Again, I’m doing OK with this. Still room for improvement; still too long spent thinking and not enough time doing. But better than nowt.
And importantly, I’m getting much more used to the idea that THINGS. TAKE. TIME. And that that’s OK.
LEARNING 7: What other people think of you is none of your business.
The action I set for myself: None? (I wrote only: ‘This one’s pretty self-explanatory.’)
Progress made: There’s not much to say about this one, is there? Other than ‘YEP’.
It’s good to be reminded of it though.
LEARNING 8: If your path feels uncomfortable, that’s OK – it’s meant to
Action set: Embrace the discomfort, and trust that it will all come good with time.
Progress made: As with learning 6, I’m starting to be OK with this, and that’s all good.
LEARNING 9: Be kind to yourself
Action set: Take regular breaks and be much nicer to myself.
Progress made: I still need to get better at taking breaks on my work days, especially when I’m feeling particularly preggo-knackered, instead of just waiting until I get a headache and have to go lie down as a matter of urgency (!)
On the upside, I’ve got out of the habit of wasting evenings looking at my phone; I’ll watch an episode of a box set or go up to bed and listen to a podcast instead.
My Q1 review in summary: I’m not doing too badly actually. Hurrah! Q2, I’m ready for you. (Good job really, considering we’re already a sixth of the way through, eh?)
Thanks for reading, and bye for now x