Living the dream.. or chasing one?
In the last 12 months and in this order, I’ve taken the following steps to take the leap in to the world of self-employed…
- moved into my own place and starting living on my own for the first time
- changed jobs
- left new job
- went to Australia over Christmas & NY
- started to work as a contractor / self employed
All 5 points above have been events and actions based upon my decisions to try to both control how I work and what I get from work.
To better my life / work balance & make me happier
I am a nobody. I’m no one special and I don’t have big names behind my work to justify my choices either. Whilst I both aspire and seethe at reading those timeless, romanticised stories about ‘those people’ who travel the world with nothing more than a MBP and yet still manage to work for massive names (I still have yet to meet an employer happy for me to deliver work in this fashion). I thought it could be interesting to share a similar story, but from well, a nobody’s point of view I guess.
To be frank — it’s bloody hard work! Be under no illusion, as a nobody, it’s hard and scary out there. So I thought to share some tricks & tips that I’ve picked up on along the way, that seem to work. Perhaps sharing these may help someone.
- Get better at online socialising. LinkedIn and Twitter are my tools of choice. Why? Because as a nobody — how else are you going to get yourself in front of people that normally otherwise you wouldn’t be able to? They both have good phone apps too, so I can do this just about anywhere! Twitter has Tweetdeck too, so I can set up a whole host of tweets and plan their delivery.
- Constantly revisit your online profiles and places you put your cv. Not heard from anyone in a while? This is when I start to usefully question myself. Am I turning up in the right search terms — do keywords in my profiles and cv match that to trends of job titles and descriptions for example.
- Get better at going to events. I select events carefully, my time spent away at these things are also my available / sellable hours. So I try to pick events that I believe will help steer where I want to go and not because I think I’ll get a bit of freelance work from it. I see work as a result as a bonus, not a requirement.
- Choose work carefully. This could be a failing point if you’re not careful. I’m also still learning this point myself too. Despite the risks I choose to stick with this principle, simply because working for yourself how else are you going to build that portfolio of work that you want? It’s also for me the whole point of working as a contractor / self-employed.
- Give anyone who contacts you at least an hour of your time. I like this point a lot; I greatly enjoy meeting and speaking to people and hearing their stories and I find it inspiring. I’m willing to give anyone an hour of my time for free, to sit and chat over a coffee and some cake. After all they’ve likely: searched, found you, read up about you, thought about you and then contacted you. I think that deserves a coffee, don’t you? I think a good outlook to have on this is: you just never know who you might meet, so tread lightly on peoples dreams. You can always make a decision about what happens next after you’ve met them.
- Harness and embrace ‘fear’. This is my biggest principle. There have been times I’ve actually wanted to cry at just the thought of how long I’ll be able to continue to pay the bills without a secure and regular income. I live on my own now, remember, so there is just me responsible for all the bills. I try to find good in all bad — this to me is simply what drives me to find the work I want to do.
So, back to the question of my post — living a dream or simply chasing it? I think there’s a fine line here. And I simply don’t think you are ever one or the other. As a nobody I would say you first have to chase it before you can live it. Like learning before you can do.
Right now, I’m chasing it. Happily chasing it. I’ll live it, once I have it.