Four years ago today I boldly, optimistically and ignorantly finished my last day as a conscientious employee and stepped out into the world of freelancing. After twenty five years of delivering awesomeness to a steady flow of employers I was done with uniforms and invisible underwear. From here on in, I was freeballing.
It wasn’t as though any of my jobs had been bad. I my last one had autonomy, free will, great boss and great people. But since my boss also had a great job, there was nowhere for me to go.
I’d nailed the job and knew it inside out. In my six years there I had absorbed a couple of other roles and nailed those too. But that’s the harsh reality for good workers; hard work is often rewarded with more work. Some don’t ask for the workload, but get it anyway. Others, like me take on the extra work to avoid being stuffed into the same box every day.
And so the ever looming figure of my work life came back to bite me in the arse yet again – boredom. Even though I was overworked, I was still perpetually bored. It was time to move on.
But all I could see in my future was the same cycle of boredom spinning into infinity with no hope of ever making it to long service leave. No matter where I worked, or what role I took, I would inevitably end up bored within a couple of years.
You see the trouble was that like many people out there, I wasn’t overly ambitious. I didn’t want to rule the world. I didn’t want to be anyone’s boss. I knew I was always going to work hard and become good at whatever I did but didn’t feel the need to prove myself. I just wanted to love my work, be remunerated well, constantly challenged, but able to come home at the end of the day and forget about it all. Overtime and climbing the corporate ladder was never for me.
I’ve done my share of personality profiling and find that I sit in a very unusual place. I am process driven, needing structure and consistent clear scope. I need clear undisturbed chunks of time to get absorbed in the task. But I am also people focused too. I need to help people. I need interaction. I need to feel loved and appreciated. And I also need to be able to jump out of my little box of routines when the fancy takes me. It’s a difficult combination to live with. And even harder to find a job description flexible enough to fit me in.
I eventually came to the realisation that I would never find a single job title to deliver all that. The only real hope was to build my own adventure as a freelancer by picking and choosing what interested me at the time.
The benefit to having such a diverse work history until now is that I have many skills. Skills I took for granted but eventually realised were not universally shared by others. Some were acquired on paper, some came naturally and others learned through experience. But my over riding skill has always been to simplify complexity.
As a trainer I put myself in the shoes of the learner to deliver with relevance and enthusiasm. As a process writer, I break things down into bite sized chunks and write to suit the audience. As an auditor, I cut to the truth see the real purpose, not to tick boxes or find fault, but to help my clients discover their own opportunities.
I don’t profess to be an expert. I have no lofty title. I’m not a coach, guru, mentor, analyst or consultant.
I will not tell you how to run your own business. You are more than capable of doing that yourself. You merely have a specific need for which you do not have the internal skills, knowledge or resources to deliver. I happen to have these things. I’ll work hard to learn the nuances of your business so we an share the journey to the finish line.
We’ll set some clear boundaries. If it’s not a good fit, we don’t continue. If your thing is not my thing, I will tell you. If my thing is not your thing, then you will tell me. If you don’t need me anymore, I move on. If it works out well, we may work together again in the future.
I’ll be honest here though. Some days I am scared shitless about what’s around the corner, petrified I might one day have to squeeze myself back into a box of dissatisfaction with a real job. Or worse still, that uniform with invisible underwear.
But today as I celebrate four years of highs and lows on this freelancing rollercoaster I hitch up my big girl pants, give myself a little shake and prepare to enjoy another day of freeballing. And it feels great.