On Wednesday 10th June 2009 I left my job to become a full-time freelancer. I wish I could say that I screamed “UP YOURS LOSERS!!” as I waved to my previous employers (without using all my fingers) whilst sprinting for the door with the contents of the stationery cupboard, but I didn’t. Instead, I quietly walked out of the gates into the unknown.
And it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
I now have such a flexible, happy working life I sometimes I can’t quite believe it’s how I live now. I’m actually writing this from a sofa in my local pub with a bottle of Coke and a bowl of wasabi nuts.
And I can do this whenever I want… how bonkers/lucky/jammy is that??!!
Anyway, I’ve decided to write these ‘VA lifestyley’ posts now and again, not so I can boast, but so you can see what life is actually like as a freelancer. Of course, your client work has to come first, but I want to provide evidence that you can also have a lifestyle and a working day that suits you.
How my business birthday came about
One day in 2015 I read that one of those famous American tycoons like Rockefeller or Getty (sorry I really can’t remember who it was) said he always celebrated the anniversary of the day he set up his company so he could reflect upon and appreciate what he’d created.
I loved that idea and immediately decided that I would celebrate my own business birthday when it came around. It can be really easy to take this lifestyle for granted – I guess anything just becomes your ‘new normal’ after a while – but I think it’s really important to recognise when you have a good thing going (or when you’ve created a good thing) so I decided I was going to take half the day off and smell the roses.
Even though I can take a day off whenever I like, I hardly ever do. I actually really like working so I never take sickies like I used to in all my previous jobs (shhhh..). But I wanted to take some time to think about how much my life had changed.
I had a marvellous day.
I wandered into Brighton via the seafront so I could take in the sea air and watch people hurrying to work (I cannot tell you how much this pleases me) and I went through to the North Laines via the Pavilion Gardens to one of my favourite cafes, sipped a long latte, ate a bit of cake and thought about how far I’d come, how fortunate I was and how proud my Grandmother would be of me.
Why am I telling you this?
For two reasons:
1) Because people often only look at how far they have to go instead of looking at how far they’ve come and fail to see and appreciate what they have and what they’ve achieved.
2) Because many people spend their whole life either dwelling on the past or dreaming of the future instead of living in the now. Time passes and suddenly they realise it’s getting late.
So I wanted to take stock and think about how this girl from nowhere important with five rubbish GCSEs and a working-class background had managed to forge such a happy and successful career for herself when even the opportunity or idea hadn’t been available to my Mum, my Nan or my Great-Grandmother.
Boy am I lucky.
I realise and fully appreciate how fortunate I am to live in a time when I can do absolutely anything I want to do – well, within reason I guess; I think it might be too late for that spacewalk.
Opportunities are easily available to me that were never available to generations of women before me and all I have to do is take them. Of course, hard work is involved because that’s how life works (things don’t just come to you because you want them whatever X-Factor contestants might think), but I know my future is created on decisions I do or don’t make and actions I do or don’t take.
Every single thing you need to find out about how to do pretty much anything – including how to set up and run a business – is available for free online. It’s just there for the taking to anyone who makes time to go and get it.
How amazing is that?
I’ve gone on a bit of a rant there, but what I’m trying to say is that I have a great life as a freelancer and it’s the kind of life that would have been unattainable for my female relatives in the past. And I have it because of decisions I made and steps that I took.
I’m thankful I was brave and made those decisions because the rewards far exceed anything I had imagined and I truly appreciate everything I have.
So if you’re thinking of doing something different with your life, whatever it might be, then just go and do it because time waits for no (wo)man and you’ll never know if you never try.