On January third I celebrated the one-year anniversary of being my own boss! How’s this going you’re wondering? Well, I’m writing this while still on winter “vacation” at my brother’s house in our hometown while sipping a latte I made from their espresso machine (that I’m happily taking advantage of) and listening to Lo-Fi music in the background surrounded by inspirational nerdy shit because that’s how the Grants do it.
All of my client-facing work is done for the week and now I get to write to my heart’s content, hence this article. So, I guess you can say it’s going really well! I’m also realizing it’s hard to describe this feeling because I didn’t know what it would be like to get here. Working for yourself means striking a balance between planning for the future and being in the present moment. For someone like me— a Virgo sun with a Virgo and Capricorn stellium— you know staying on top of things has been my M.O. since birth (to further prove my point…I was even born on my exact due date). If you read about what I learned in my first six months of full-time freelancing then you’ll know that your attitude matters and whew, has my attitude toward life gotten an overhaul in this last year.
Working for myself has taught me how to read in between peoples’ bullshit, delegate, and create assets for my future self (but not too far into the future where I become overwhelmed), and overall, how to take better care of myself. Because ultimately if I’m not great, neither is my business — because it’s me. I’m the biznass!
I knew my first year more than any other would be filled with trials and errors, and I’m happy to say that I was way more gentle with myself than I thought I would be whenever I came across an “error”. This bit of self-compassion is honestly what got me through and is still carrying me. One thing that I made sure to hold myself to was quarterly self-reviews. I measured what worked and what didn’t in terms of what I actually liked, loved, and what I would tolerate and how much. After Q1, I came to terms with the fact that I don’t tolerate much fuckery…like, at all. Not with my livelihood and not with my emotions. And I’ve done well to express that, which is a place I never thought I would get to and something I’m still working on every day. Working full-time for yourself is a bit of an out-of-body experience when I really think about it.
A friend of mine congratulated my anniversary saying “congrats on one year of not having to ask for PTO”. While I would say I definitely checked in with myself before taking me time whenever I wanted, I’m proud to say I learned how to actually start enjoying my personal time off. After this year and finally finishing The Art of Nonconformity (it took me five years but we made it!), I now have better tools and gall to put my dreams in motion more strategically while still being quick with my wit and authentic to myself. I’ve had some pretty big wins this past year, from producing a live concert video to getting my first paid voice over gig and I know that the blessings have only just begun.
Choosing myself has been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done, and I highly recommend it for all of you reading this looking for a sign to quit your soul-sucking job. I’m excited and humbled to step into year two a more confident and more unapologetic Lo who’s ready to learn more about herself and what she likes out of life. But until the next adventure, here’s some more tips I learned in my first year of self-employment.
Set your own terms and come to the table with them ready
Knowing not only what you have to offer but how much you’re willing to put up with for the coin will save you so much heartache in the long run. While I’m sure some jobs out there are unique, I would say don’t wait on the client/company to set your terms. Knowing my own boundaries ahead of time (like having flexibility in my hours, working with other creatives, etc.) helped me tremendously when striking deals with collaborators and vendors. As a mutable sign, I always strive to remain flexible, however, when you come to the table with your terms set, it leaves little room for people to pull a fast one…which brings me to my next point…
Read Between Peoples’ Bullshit
Bullshit and bullshitters are everywhere as you can imagine, and as real as New York City is…they’re definitely here too. I’ll never forget the night before our first outing as official business partners, my friend told me that I would be in for a wild ride as I began to see and hear some interesting things…she ain’t never lied. From false claims to faulty promises, one thing I’ve had to amp up is my vetting process. As a collaborative spirit by nature, this was hard for me; I like meeting and working with new people. But for the sake of my sanity, 2023 is the year I become very exclusive on this front.
Learn To Delegate
As a self-proclaimed habitual line-stepper, I came to terms with the fact that if I want to usher in the new world order chaos that is seeing capitalism burn to the ground, I’d have to take a play from my Navy brat upbringing — delegation. This is one thing my friends and colleagues have had to pin me down and fight me on. I had a horrible habit of not asking for help but by not doing so it had proven to only be a disservice to myself. As a someone who is self-employed, it’s good to know how to do most things (if not every thing) for your business but that doesn’t mean you have to. Learn where you can afford to pass off tasks and save yourself the time and stress.
Create Pre-Made Templates
Resumés, cover letters, pitch decks, and emails; when you enter into the freelance world and don’t have one particular set job, don’t be afraid to make multiple templates for quick and easy applications! This saved me on multiple occasions when I would be on the go and would get a job alert for something I really wanted. Eventually, clientele will build (and hopefully become and stay consistent) so that you’ll use these less frequently.
It’s OK To Not Work 8-Hour Days
This was genuinely tough for me to wrap my head around and I’m still getting through it. I literally manifested my ideal work day: waking up, meditating, yoga, coffee shop to work for four hours and then enjoying the city by three in the afternoon. I got exactly that a few times this past year and for the first half I completely flipped out. Y’all, it’s A-O-K to not work a full eight-hour day! I honestly don’t think it’s realistic and even if I do work a “full day” it’s almost never consecutive hours. But the point is, I wanted to stop working eight-hour plus days altogether which, for the most part, I’ve been able to*. Yay me.
*I do work in film so sometimes an eight-hour day is inevitable but luckily these are usually shoot days which are hella fun!
A Lot Can Happen In A Year
For this lesson learned, I will simply tell you that on the very first day of self-employment I walked into the artist studio my partner was using and began to cry wondering why I had just decided to leave fate in my own hands and wondering how was I going to make a living all on my own. Less than five minutes into crying — I shit you not– I received a text message for a production gig that paid my rent in only two days of work. I mentioned earlier that over-planning can lead to becoming overwhelmed and in this year I’ve discovered that I can only think as far as five to seven days in front of me. I’m even more shocked to say that I actually like this. It doesn’t take much for things to fall into your favor. In fact, I would argue it takes very little. A positive attitude and putting one foot in front of the other is a great place to start. As a yogi, staying in the present moment is imperative as we know it’s all we have. As a spiritual being I know that all the magic is in the present moment and as a business owner I know that all I have is this very moment to make (or not) a move that will (or won’t) benefit my business.