Five Months Freelance (from November 2016)
It's just over 5 months since I stuck it to the man, let go of all employment ties and went freelance. It's been quite a learning curve, terrifying at times, overwhelming at times, but mostly I've loved working for myself, being in control of my own destiny, and mostly, getting to work on such a wide variety of accounts and with some brilliant clients. No two days are ever the same - whether it's down to what I'm working on, or simply where I'm working from, the range of projects I'm spending time on every day appeals to my multi-tasking nature.
I decided to go freelance for many, many reasons, but the primary reason was that I was keen to take some control back of my life. Having been diagnosed with breast cancer aged 26, I'd been pushed from pillar to post during treatment. Every decision was made for me. Every single thing I did for a period of 10 months was primarily about getting better, beating the cancer and getting to a position where I could get on with my life. I quickly learned that life never quite goes back to where you expect it to after a cancer diagnosis but I decided that one thing I could take control of, was my career.
I blogged about how having cancer was like having the toughest job of my life and I didn't want to return to a role where I had no control over what I was doing on a day to day basis. I had experienced that in the biggest way possible with my treatment. Some people believe that being a freelancer means you don't have a boss - and I'm inclined to disagree. Not only do I have bosses in the form of my clients, I read something today that said my bills are my boss, and that's so true. My mortgage. My heating bill. My grocery bill. So my decision to go freelance wasn't based on the idea that I didn't want to go back to a role where I was being told what to do by someone else, I wanted to be in a position where I could decide what I was taking on, when I was taking it on and make the decisions that affect me every day. I wanted to work on things I'm passionate about and excited by. Every time I take on a new client, I'm enthusiastic about the challenges they pose, engaged with what they're doing and I'm really driven to work to the very finest of my ability - because it is my name on the line now.
A huge part of taking back control meant being able to do what I want to do, when I want to do it too. Though it's getting better every day, the cancer treatment that saved my life has lasting impacts on how I live now. I need to look after myself better than ever, and working for myself means I can do that.
I can take a walk with my new pal Bertie whenever I feel like it. If I feel rotten, I can work from my bed and clock off at noon when things are done. If I feel great, I can do a full day of stuff, meaning I can take a day off midweek next week. I want to be able to volunteer my time to causes that matter to me, like walking in the Breast Cancer Care Fashion show and delivering talks on behalf of CoppaFeel! to young people in schools and colleges around London without having to worry about taking leave.
The flexibility of being a freelancer is what made it the most obvious choice for me after treatment.
I know people often say it when they've lived through a serious illness or been faced with their mortality when they least expected it, but my priorities and parameters have changed since my diagnosis. I'm now more passionate than ever about doing work I'm passionate about. I want to work hard for my clients because I want them to achieve great things. Cancer hasn't made me a better person, nor has it revealed to me exactly what I want to do with my life, but it's given me a bit of clarity that I am incredibly grateful for.
I've always been a person who believes in the work to live mentality, but for the first time in my life, I'm in a position where I am in the driving seat of my career and of my life. I can make a success of this and it comes down only to me. But equally, now I've had notice of how volatile life is, I have to concentrate on making a success of living. That comes down to me, and me alone, too.
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