It’s 6:57am. The sun is barely peeking above the horizon, casting light gray shadows across the parking lot as the beams of bright pink sunrise start to fade.
And I’m late.
I shove open the car door, dashing across the lot. I sprint to the glass entrance, bee lining for the four flights of stairs to my cubicle. There’s an older woman making her way slowly up the stairwell.
She’s in my way. She’s going to make me late. Do I push past her? What would Ann Landers do? Doesn’t she know it’s time for an entire shift of us to clock in…any.minute.now.
“On your left!” I shout and zip by her, scrambling to my desk, panting, just as the clock flips to 7:01am. By company policy, at 7:02am an employee is considered late. And if you’re late more than three times, you get written up.
And if you get written up…well, let’s just try not to think about that, because yet another meeting with the Man in a Suit was not on my agenda today. I’d already been called into meetings for:
Using a smiley face in an email to a sales representative that had used a smiley face in her email to me
Asking if my consistently above average customer reviews would qualify me for a raise
Not writing my website copy fast enough; 20 pages a day was the expected rate of production
Getting Real About My Life
In November of 2012, one year into my business, I went to India. I returned to an empty sales funnel of exactly zero prospects for freelance writing jobs. I accepted what I thought was a three month contract.
The shift began at 7:00am to 3:30pm, plenty of time for me to get home and focus on building up my freelance writing career. Instead, by the time I had finally arrived home, I could barely lift my head some days.
Bedtime became 9:30pm. If we were out late with friends, I’d literally fall asleep at the table. My days off, vacations, and Holidays weren’t paid since I was only a contractor, too. Sick? Not to-achoo-day!
My personality became edgy. I was listless and drained: a shell of my feisty, vibrant self. And I just had no idea how to get out of my own way while still paying my bills.
I felt stuck on an express train that just kept speeding forward no matter how often I asked it to stop. Stop! Stop!
Saying Goodbye to Security
In October of 2013, almost a year to the day I began the contract, the unthinkable happened; they automatically converted me to a full-time employee. Oh, they said, now you’ll get paid Holiday time.
But inside, little pieces of me were flecking off and slowly dying. How was I ever going to get out of the security blanket I’d wrapped myself in? I tried to justify this to myself by asking them for more money.
The boss looked at me like I had two heads, “Your next raise will be if you become a supervisor,” he sneered.
“But I’ve been here a year!” I countered. Wasn’t I entitled to a bump in pay after drastically improving my quality scores, showing up every day on time, and being “the perfect employee”?
But I guess the Universe had other plans for me.
On a whim, I accepted a freelance writing assignment for a digital marketing agency. And then a local financial institution asked me to be the liason for a new travel credit card website.
This was the chance for a 10pm bedtime I’d been waiting for! I gave notice at my agency job and waved good-bye to being a gopher in a cubicle hole.
And then I went home and hyperventilated.
A Big Risk Pays Off
Over the next several months I maintained my contract with the financial firm, while procuring a few other little projects along the way.
At the end of the year, despite all my fear, angst, and why-can’t-I-be normal moments, I had increased my income by $10,000. The “real job” that I thought I needed had actually been holding me back from incredible opportunities.
Are you thinking that maybe I just “got lucky”? I did too for a year or so, but I have continued to earn about the same income for the last three years working part time.
Here’s my ultimate advice for you:
Don’t be afraid of calculated risk. There’s a saying that goes, “The problem will not present itself until the solution is ready to appear.” Pay attention to which opportunities make sense for you and take a few risks.
Be Your Own Boss Full Time. Working for yourself full-time allows you to market more, too. You get back two hours of commuting time, as well. Anything you do that is not building your business or directly part of your career path is a distraction and a waste of time.
Get Ready for Freelance Fluctuations. The typical freelance lifestyle has ups and downs. Create a business model that regulates your income and/or make your rates high enough that the time between contracts won’t stress you out to the point of anxiety attacks.
Me? I believe that you deserve to profit from your passions. I believe that, with the right drive and ambition, you have the ability to make a living doing what you love and loving what you do.
Just believe in yourself, take a few risks, and step by step, you’ll end up achieving far more than you’ve ever imagines was possible – like $10,000 more than you ever thought possible!