Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary that I walked away from my great job as a marketing copywriter and started my own freelancing business, and guess what? I haven’t starved!
There have been some lean moments, though. That’s for sure. But everything I’ve needed, I’ve been able to get. Either the Lord provided the work for me or someone was gracious enough (and generous enough) to help me out.
One of my goals for 2016 is to take time to celebrate the really awesome stuff that happens in life, and this qualifies. If you would have asked me last year how long I thought I was going to make it, I wouldn’t have known what to tell you. All I could have said was that I’d make it as long as God wanted me too.
The answer is still the same. I’m still here. I still believe I’m doing what God has called me to do, and I’m still trusting that He’s going to provide.
But I thought I’d share a few of the things I’ve learned over the last year of self-employment, in case there’s anyone else out there in my same shoes.
This is probably the most important lesson I’ve learned. Most of the time, people ask me if I have the discipline to get up and work in the morning, and I laugh at them. Because my problem is exactly the opposite. I have a hard time NOT working.
So with the help of my friends and family members, I’ve been working on establishing healthy work habits. I eat lunch. I take breaks. I only work over weekends when I’m on a major deadline, and even then it’s not the long-haul days I used to pull when I was working full time.
You have to set reasonable goals and keep reasonable boundaries between yourself and your work. Otherwise you’ll burn out. You’re not being lazy. You’re just human.
2. Needs vs. Wants
I’ve had to learn to tell the difference between something I want and something I need. Maybe that sounds elementary, but I swear the difference changes every day. Just because something would be nice to have doesn’t mean it’s something I can’t live without.
There’s a group going to New Zealand this year, and I want to go. Oh, that’s one of those places I’ve dreamed about visiting. But it’s pricey. The tickets cost a lot, and that doesn’t even count what I’d have to pay while I’m there. A trip to New Zealand is a want. It’s something that would be nice, but it’s not something I need.
Now, when my cell phone gave up the ghost at the beginning of this year? That was a need. Working for myself, I can’t be disconnected from clients and the fanbase for my novels. It was expensive, but I needed it.
Learning the difference between a need and a want saves time, money, stress, and overall mental health!
This one is hard for me. I struggle with pride, and I hate asking for help. But I’ve learned that I can’t get through life on my own. I can’t do life by myself. I need God’s help, and I also need help from the people He’s put in my life.
It’s hard to admit, but once you really embrace the truth that you don’t have to get through life alone, it’s a lot easier to be genuine.
Then, of course, what follows humility is gratitude. I’ve been blessed by so many people in the past year, I can’t even list them all. People have fed me, given me clothes, let me stay in their homes, bought my books, supported my writing, encouraged me on the down days, and much more. And I can’t say thank you enough for it.
I thought I was a grateful person before. I don’t think I understood gratitude until I truly couldn’t repay someone for their kindness.
Finally, this is the lesson I’m still learning. Strange that I struggle both with pride and self-worth, isn’t it?
But I’m learning that what I know is actually worth something. I have a set of skills and experiences that allow me to provide services that other people can’t, and I’m working on having the courage to present it that way—to myself and to others.
My time is valuable because I’m valuable. Granted, you don’t want to get a big head. You can’t go against lesson number three. But as with everything else in life, there’s a balance to be struck between humility and self-worth.
This past year has been a roller coaster ride of emotions, anxieties, joy, fear, faith, certainty, and insecurity. I’ve learned more about God and what He feels for me than I expected, and I can’t wait to see what the next year will bring!