Last week was, without a doubt, one the very best weeks I’ve ever experienced in my professional career. If I could have scripted a perfect first week on my own as a freelance writer, editor and media consultant, last week would’ve been it.
I started the week energized, feeling for the first time in years that I was at the mouth of a vast tunnel, beginning an exciting and important journey. While I can’t see exactly what’s waiting for me at the end of this new tunnel, there’s an intense, vivid light beckoning me forward. Last week, I took my first steps toward it.
On Monday, I gleefully got up at 7 a.m., let my dogs out, made myself a cup of coffee in my favorite mug, went back upstairs, made my bed, shed my pajamas, put on clean yoga pants and T-shirt and headed to my desk. I booted up my Mac and dove in. The time? 7:45 a.m.
As I was wrapping up my corporate gig the prior few weeks before, I spent time booking jobs, meetings and scheduling deadlines for my first week as an entrepreneur to ensure I was busy. I had several clients ask me to start projects that last week of my full-time job, but I put them off until I could give them my complete attention. I’m so glad I did.
Being the organized, OCD queen of listmaking that I am, I also successfully staggered my workload throughout the week, taking care not to promise more than I could deliver. All in all, I didn’t change my work habits much from how I operated as someone else’s employee. I think my methodical – OK anal – routine is going to serve me well as my own boss.
So what kept me busy all week, you ask?
Well, I wrote a package of stories for one local publication; did two lengthy interviews and wrote a story for a national trade magazine; completed nearly15 hours of requisite contract retainer work for the employer I just left, which included writing, editing, social media management and accompanying a physician expert to a local TV studio for his on-camera appearance.
I also did some business development, setting three meetings with brand new potential clients for this upcoming week; researched a nonprofit grant application; had coffee with an awesome business contact who has already given me one referral; chatted with another freelancer who wants to figure out how we can complement each others’ work; and wrote and distributed a very detailed news release for a fun, new client – a lesser-known Derby party called Ferdinand's Ball.
Also in the mix with all the work was a bit of play. I made several elaborate dinners, including a homemade chicken pot pie, during the prep of which I cut the crap out of my left index finger. I spent half the week typing with one less digit. (It did not slow me down or dampen my enthusiasm at all – that’s how good the week was. Not even bloodshed could bring me down off my entrepreneurial high!)
One of the best parts of the week was the freedom to take lot of breaks to love on my dogs, who are so happy to have me at home they don’t know what do with themselves. At least three times a day, Sam tries to climb in my lap in my desk chair. She's like a toddler who puts her arms up in the air to be held. It’s too damn sweet. I can’t be annoyed by it because I am so grateful to have both of my dogs with me all day.
The flexibility of working at home also allowed me to take my son to the Louisville Nature Center at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday and Friday, where he was doing volunteer work. I also was able to pick him up just a few hours later. And I didn’t have to tell a soul where I was going, or why. It was an odd, yet liberating feeling that’s going to take some getting using to.
By Thursday, when I was working on the national trade mag story that was due by the end of the day Friday, I finally disengaged from the regular 9 to 5 mentality and worked until 10 p.m. that night. Actually, what I did was, I got frustrated with the story at about 4 p.m., so I took an extended break, and went back to it with a fresh brain at around 7:30. Having the freedom and motivation to do that was amazing. I discovered that I will gladly work late into the evening when it’s my own choice, and no one is telling me I have to.
Because of my late-night toil on Thursday, Friday was a light day. I was afforded the opportunity to run to Trader Joe’s, Paul’s Fruit Market and Kroger between 1:30 and 3. (The stores were dead; it was glorious!)
Speaking of errands, my first weekend on my own was as fabulous as the workweek. I didn’t feel the pressure to get everything done like I usually do. If I didn’t get all the plants watered or every load of laundry done, that was OK. I can take short breaks during a workday to get caught up. I had dinner with an old friend Friday night, took my son to the movie on Saturday and generally enjoyed the spring weather. And I did not, for one second, feel guilty about it.
Anyhoo, when it comes down to it, WHAT I did wasn’t as important as the spirit in which I did it – with unreserved joy. Even keystroke I typed, every phone call I made, every appointment I set… I was doing it all for ME. For the first time in my career, I was building something all by myself and on my own terms.
Sure, in six month when I have a dry spell and I’m wondering how I’ll pay my bills, I may have a different attitude. But today, I am blissfully happy with my choice to become self-employed.
(Case in point: It’s Monday at 10 a.m., and I am sitting in my recliner with morning talk shows on the TV, typing this blog post on my laptop, dogs at my feet. Jealous??)
Yeah, the light at the end of my own entrepreneurial tunnel is awfully warm and inviting. And this is me, walking steadily forward to meet it… with a huge grin on my face.
Happy Week 2 to me!
About Amy Higgs
A former newspaper columnist, Amy takes her random, slice-of-life stories to the web. After nine years, she's still just saying.