Today marks 2 years since I was last employed (as a Senior Researcher at Evidence Base, Birmingham City University). In some senses it seems like a lifetime ago, though in other senses it seems like yesterday!
So, what are the benefits and challenges as things are at the moment?
- Focusing my energy on things I love where I know I add value to those I work with
- Being able to set my own schedule (to a degree, there are certain commitments such as workshops being on a certain date)
- Being able to work from anywhere (again to a degree!)
- Being in control of the way I work (things like technology for example)
- Being able to adapt things as I have different needs (some months I’ll choose to work longer hours, some months I’ll choose to spend more time focused on other areas of my life)
- Being able to adapt the type of work I do based on my interests
- Being able to dedicate time, energy, and resources to my own development
- Being able to collaborate with a variety of different people for each different project
- Balancing proactive and reactive work (finding enough time to focus on developing new things I feel passionate about whilst continuing to respond to requests based on previous work)
- Managing work commitments and scheduling different projects (at times I have a lot more work on than I would like due to external time restrictions outside of my control)
- Budgeting (I manage this OK most of the time but having a varied income can sometimes be a bit of a challenge)
- Switching off (this has always been a challenge for me!)
Overall, I am absolutely loving this part of my journey. I’m learning so much about myself and others, and my life feels more fulfilled on an almost daily basis (there are blips of course, but the overall trend is definitely moving in the direction I’d like it to). I left my job not really knowing exactly what I wanted to do but knowing that I needed to try new things. I still feel a bit like that and think I always will; it’s what keeps things exciting for me. I understand more about the types of things I enjoy, and the types of things that deliver the most value to others, and am moving towards spending more of my time doing things that tick both those boxes.
I currently refer to myself as self-employed, which according to legal terms for tax purposes I am. Someone recently challenged me on this though, and as we unpicked the term I realised it doesn’t quite fit what I do as it’s about something bigger than myself and it encapsulates my whole life; it’s not ‘a job’. I received some coaching a few months ago to help me explore what I meant by ‘work’ which was really helpful in terms of gaining clarity over when I’m working and when I’m not (the clarity was gained by the fact that it’s not so clear cut and I’m OK about that!).
It might not currently be easy for me to describe what I do anything more than, “I help people develop”, and even that might not be accurate enough as there’s definitely more of an active role I play as a catalyst to people’s development in ways they may not have predicted. I’m going to spend some time pondering these things over the next few weeks as I take time to pause, reflect, and refresh.
In the meantime, I’m feeling very grateful for the journey I’ve been on in the last 2 years, and I’m sending lots of love to those of you who have been part of my journey and those of you who will be part of my continued journey 🙂