on freelancing, freedom and working from home

Before I made the jump to fulltime freelancer, I used to picture what my life would be like if or when I was working from home, making my own schedule and chasing down my own goals. I had a beautiful, ideal picture of the way my days would go, that included a spotless house, energetic, early morning exercise, productive workdays, and relaxed afternoons spent in the garden or working on a house project. Not that my expectations were totally out of line–they were simply a bit sugar-coated. Of course it’s unrealistic to assume that a new job will make your entire life perfect. Case in point, my house is probably messier now than it ever has been. (I still haven’t figured out why this is, but I’m working on it.)

It hasn’t been quite a month, so I’m a complete newbie when it comes to this whole fulltime freelancing/working from home thing. However, I’ve learned a few things along the way, partly from my own limited experience, and partly from the advice of others who have been doing this for awhile. Here are my thoughts in a nutshell (or maybe a bucket).

First off, let there be no doubt, I absolutely love my “new reality”. It’s hard to describe the profound thrill I get every time I realize that this is my new life, that I no longer answer to a boss, have to request days off, or need to squeeze business tasks into weekday evenings. I love the freedom I have each day. I love deciding how my hours will be spent, and working hard on something I am truly passionate about. I love knocking off early, and spending Friday afternoons with my husband, doing whatever we please. I love knowing that all my efforts are leading to something bigger, and that the decisions I make and tasks I accomplish today will impact me tomorrow, and in years to come. It’s exciting, freeing, fulfilling, and… terrifying.

The flip side of the coin is that all this freedom requires a tremendous amount of discipline and drive. I remember telling my husband, months ago, that if I were ever to quit my job and work fulltime from home, I would struggle more with workaholism than I would with laziness. I was homeschooled, and I think I learned allot about discipline during those years. I’m self-motivated, and it’s easy for me to stay focused on the tasks at hand. What I struggle with is telling myself it’s okay to enjoy lunch with a friend, quit early for the day, or take a long weekend. My father instilled in me a very strong work ethic, and I am so grateful. However, I also have his tendency to never stop moving and going. I put pressure on myself to make this business a success, bring in a supplemental income for our household, and use my time wisely.

With all that being said, I am still utterly content in this place, as I learn to balance work, home, and my own personality. I learned a long time ago that life is not on the horizon, in the “someday”, or around the bend. It is right now; here today, in this very moment. So, I take the profound and thrilling sense of freedom I get from this experience, and put in next to my own fears of working too much or not enough, of failing or falling, and I charge forward into today. Because, after all, today is all I have. Tomorrow is no guarantee. I want the things I do today to matter, right now, and in ten years. So I set out to accomplish tasks that will take me somewhere, and at the same time, try to make time for the small, seemingly insignificant moments that really matter. Because isn’t life really about this balance of big and small, important and simple, future and present? Therein lies the crux.

Before I go on much longer, or get any more deeply introspective, I think I’ll wrap this up. However, I’ll be back again soon, because I want to keep this conversation open. I have more to share about setting goals, as well as a handful of practical pieces of advice on daily work habits, routines, and the like. If you have specific questions for me, feel free to ask, and I’ll do my best to answer. Stay tuned, my dears!

  1. Nice post my friend. I was talking to Darren about this same sort of stuff last night and he was really reminding me to enjoy the here an now. I have a tendency like you to always be working to be at a different place, but it’s good to be reminded to be joyful about where we are at. Sometime I just wish it was an easier balance to achieve.

  2. I’m really glad to have read this today.
    I especially like what you say about life not being on the horizon, but now. I definitely don’t realize this enough. I often feel like things I do today are all in preparation for tomorrow, and while I think this is certainly the case, I should enjoy today in and of itself too.
    I’m in graduate school, and I keep waiting for my life to start (professionally speaking), but I think I should take some of your advice. Thanks!
    Good luck finding your balance.

  3. Tiffany says:

    How do you go about starting freelance work?

  4. Wahkuna says:

    This is a much needed post for me! I feel like it was meant for me actually! Thank you for discussing some key factors of working for yourself! I definitely look forward to more posts on this subject, thank you again for your helpful and inspirational words!!

  5. LauraC says:

    I’m not freelancing, but there are so many similarities between what you are doing, and being a stay-at-home-mom. I taught for 9 years before having our daughter and staying home with her. Now she’s three (and has a little brother!) and I just finally feel like I’m learning to not procrastinate! I always did super well in school, and loved teaching, but they have external motivators. When the laundry needs doing, (or grocery shopping, or dusting) but can just as easily be done tomorrow, it’s REALLY easy to “do it tomorrow.” So I’m just saying your post is relevant in many different lives, not just those working from home. Which I am . . . :-)

  6. Sherry says:

    Beth – Your house is a mess because you live in it 24/7. It no longer sits empty during the day. I went through this same thing when I decided to stay home full-time. I couldn’t figure out why our house always seemed a mess and then it dawned on me. I now prepare, cook & eat three meals a day at home. My clothing decisions are different but tend to involve more changes. I need to sweep and vacuum more often because we’re going in and out of the house all day(playing outside and in your case, tending to your gardens, etc). I also have a two year old :) Enjoy the mess, it’s part of the lovely freedom of being at home instead of an office building.

  7. Sarah says:

    Because isn’t life really about this balance of big and small, important and simple, future and present? Therein lies the crux.

    You can do it great as long as you keep on trying to discipline yourself!

  8. Heather says:

    Thanks for opening up about this. I have been thinking about taking the plunge a lot lately! I would LOVE to work from home someday, but I have a similar work ethic as you describe, and I’m not sure I would let myself enjoy it enough. I guess my advice to you (which is what I would probably tell myself in that position) is to find comfort in the fact that you are happy, healthy and loved. Success will come (although it seems to me that you are already there) and all of this work will pay off! Just remember why you made this choice in the first place. It was your dream. Enjoy it!! Live it!! You have earned it!

    Now…if only I could follow my own advice…

  9. Lau says:

    Oh precious, you have touched my heart!
    Since January 2009, I wanted to quit my boring desk job and do my projects at home, 5 days ago and my husband also quit his boring job to devote to our projects, and I’m still for taking the decision, I want, what strong desire, but my hand shakes when he signed the resignation letter, I want to be free and I’m afraid of the unknown, your dreams of how it would be working from home is exactly like mine! that’s what I think and I think it will have the home office and workshop.
    You’ve been my inspiration to make the final decision.

    Love,
    Lau.

    Note: My letter is in Spanish and translated in English with google, I apologize for the errors of translation.

    My Spanish translation:
    Oh preciosa, has tocado mi corazón!
    Estoy desde enero 2009 queriendo renunciar a mi trabajo de escritorio aburrido y realizar mis proyectos en casa, hace 5 días que ya mi esposo renunció a su también aburrido trabajo para dedicarse a nuestro proyectos, y yo aún estoy por tomar la decisión, quiero, lo deseo con fuerza, pero mi mano tiembla al firmar la carta de renuncia, quiero ser libre y me da miedo a lo desconocido, tus sueños de cómo iba a ser trabajar desde casa es exactamente igual a los míos! eso es lo que pienso y creo que será tener la oficina y taller en casa.
    Has sido mi inspiración para tomar la decisión definitiva.

    Cariños,
    Lau.

    Nota: mi carta está en español y la traduje en inglés con google, pido disculpas por los errores de traducción.

  10. Tricia says:

    Very nice post! I have no idea what working for yourself is all about. My only throughts which you prob are very good at is list making or make a goal list of what you want to accomplish in the day or week.

    Good luck on your journey!

  11. Carrie says:

    This is such an awesome thing for you and congrats on taking the big leap. Isn’t it funny how some things are sugarcoated though before settling into the truth. You’ll adjust and make new habits soon enough.

    One of these days I would love to freelance but it’s awhile off for me. I have to finish school and then I’ll take the jump – when I do, I will definitely be coming to you for advice.

  12. Great post – totally resonates with me. I’m not exactly working (for pay) from home, but I’m home all day. Having a schedule (and following it!) is a necessity. I usually schedule in a little bit of “house cleaning” time during the day, that way I can at least pick up a little of the mess as I go. Most of what I’ve been doing lately has to do with NOW or really short-term things. But I think that it’s probably time I get looking toward the future a bit and working toward something that will ultimately be more satisfying/fulfilling in the long run.

  13. Sugar Mama says:

    Working from home is my dream. But I’m at a standstill of how to make it a reality. Thanks for writing this! Reading the “pros” to your career is very motivational!!!

  14. Rebecca says:

    I’m so glad things are going well for you and that you are happy. I look forward to reading about your updates!!

    I will say that we ended up hiring a cleaning lady so I didn’t feel the stress of having to clean while ay home too, if that makes sense. It took a big weight off my shoulders and allows me to enjoy my evenings and weekends with my husband.

  15. kathy says:

    Can you specify exactly what it is that you do in your new career working from home? I have never done so, and I can’t fathom how it would be. However, I do wonder if you worry about financial security, and also about retirement years? I understand you want to live for today because that’s all we really have, but from a practical point of view, you will likely live for many more years and will you have enough money in your older age to be able to enjoy life then too?

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