On September 16th, I will have been a freelance writer and digital strategist for an entire year.
If I get all my September invoices paid in the month of September/early October, I will just hit my former full-time income working part-time at home (though I plan to count Nov-Nov as my “real first year”). I don’t say this as a brag, but as a fact; a fact I’m still trying to come to terms with.
And while it would be a lot less stressful if we were a one-income family that used my income as a slush fund… I’m afraid (and a little proud) that is not the case. Despite JHubb’s full-time job as a teacher, my income stream is the one we count on to pay ALL the bills, not just the important ones. But here’s more about how we got here:
My Lay Off Masked A Burnout
I am so unbearably grateful that I was laid off last year. It was terrifying and it gave me Mitt Romney hair (seriously — FULL WHITE STREAKS from both my temples, now full-length) and it made me really doubt my skills for two weeks as I binged on sausage and broccoli and the first season of Scandal.
But it helped me recognize that I was had been about to crash and burn from burn out.
When I walked into the conference room for “The Conversation,” I had a draft in my inbox to ask to go part-time or reduced hours.
I loved what I was learning and I had a great relationship with a few people in the office. But I was so distracted by our finances and my impending health concerns (MRI a week after you’ve been laid off, anyone?).
I needed time to focus on the health challenges I was learning about and to figure out what I was meant to do with my skills and talents.
A Year Later, Almost Burning Instead of Burned Out
Stepping into this year, my goals were to 1) earn the minimum income to pay our bills and 2) work through my burnout. I have since:
- Billed over $50K for my writing services
- Worked less than 30 hours per week (by my estimate, working 7-2ish or 9-3ish and taking Fridays off)
- Earned an informal doctorate in low progesterone hormone therapy, balancing hormones, autoimmune disease, low dose naltrexone, Creighton method, and more (joking, I just Googled a ton and have had to figure out a lot on my own)
- Shopped for, planned, and cooked every freaking meal from scratch OR got sick from eating at a restaurant
- Run Life [Comma] Etc consistenly and launched Eat Your Values
- Helped JHubbs plan, record, and promote an 8-track album
- Slept 8-10 hours per night at every opportunity
- Dedicated time to reading Matthew Kelly and CS Lewis to deepen my faith
These intentional things have filled the other 20 hours per week that I could have been earning more. The result, though, is that I now feel like I’m on fire, rather than burned out.
Capital “F” Future
I’m ready to sit down for some serious business planning and figure out a straight, narrow path for the future.
Because honestly? That 50K was an accident.
That was me putting my adorable, youthful freelance nose out into the world and hoping someone (in the words of Sheryl Sandberg) would plant a tiara on my head for being nice.
That was me being grateful, honest, and eager to please.
And while I think those are important things to bring to the table as a freelancer or small business owner, I’d be lying if I said it was intentional, strategic, or confident. And those are words I need to apply to myself and my career if I want to reach the next level of running a business.
What does the future hold? I don’t know yet.
I know where the majority of my money comes from. I also know where I wish it would come from. And the third category, what I wish I were working towards on the whole, is a whole other beast.
So it’s time to sort those out, choose a path, and hurl myself down it with all the love in my heart and the grace of God. But unlike this time last year, I’m so grateful to have the energy to do so.
Thank you guys for sticking with me through a year of so many ups and downs!
This kind of turned into the “Happy One Year” post, but I’ll do a separate, more formal one of those that I can share on LinkedIn ;-).