“Free”Lancing

Not a day that goes by that I don’t hear about the joys and excitement of being an “entrepreneur”.  You’ve read them, either considered it or have done it, so maybe some of this will be relatable.  Make your own hours, work at home on all these amazing projects, choose your clients, take vacation whenever you want, and the dreaded: “be your own boss”.  Four words have never been more misleading in the history of human kind.

I never lept off the corporate cliff  to start a business, but rather, to reroute my career.  I’ve spent the last year working harder than I ever have before.  I’ve given up more for my work, and for my-self, than I anticipated and gotten more than I ever hoped for out of it.  I’m still learning what I’ve learned about my work, so for a talker like me, its actually managed to make me less long winded.  Which is probably why in the past year I’ve favored the blue bird over the big blog.

There are young graduates, 20-somethings, former cubicle-mates and general job-haters that have told me they envy me, my “freedom” and the fun involved in freelancing.  Which is funny, because “free”lancing has meant less freedom and it certainly hasn’t always been fun.

So just so we can catch up (since like all bloggers I imagine I have a larger audience than I actually do), here are a few things that I’ve felt and learned over the past year.

– I knew this world was big, but I also didn’t realize how small it can be, especially in this town.

– I keep planning and strategizing, but the more I plan, the more I learn to improvise.

– Things have a way of working out, even when they dont.

– People will help you if you ask for it.  But don’t expect it.

– Like tough teachers, tough bosses and clients are to be valued.  I learned more from them than the easy ones.

– I wish I could bottle what I felt when a client told me I saved her business and changed her life.

– Newton was right, ah ha moments really do come while staring at trees.

– Most of the time, things are right under my nose.

– My ability to grow roots has been valuable, but my inability to build walls is something I need to work on.

– Learning how to drop a client is more valuable than winning new ones.

– Pride is not the same as confidence. But they can look a lot alike.

– I think less about what I would be doing and more about what I have to do.

– Sometimes my instincts are dead, flipping, wrong.

– A lot of times they are dead, flipping, right.

– Exercise is critical.

I kept thinking that this was, by far, the hardest year of my life.  So many hurdles were either tossed in my way or self-inflicted, but at some point I realized that by deciding to leave the cozy nest of my last job, I asked for it.  Everything I’ve gotten I’ve asked for and has been a direct consequence of that fateful day nearly two years ago.  It’s made me a better manager, it’s made me more creative, and a more conscientious team mate.

I don’t want to be labeled a buzzkill, but I find articles, blogs, tweets and FB updates a little too rosey-colored about what’s involved when working on your own.  No one wants to admit the panic, sleepless nights or nerves that will be tested when you try operating without a net.  I’ve heard “fake it till you make it” too many times, and frankly think its bubkis.  A little reality makes us all play better and work harder.  And, I suppose the good news is, I’ll never wonder what if.

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