Update: two months in to working for myself
12th June 2020
I'm now two months into working for myself; here are some thoughts on how it's gone. I've found this the toughest month yet.
Reading time: 2 minutes
Next week: Should designers code?
I'm going to keep this short, and I'm not going to lie; the last 4 weeks have been really tough. If you haven't read my first post about why I set up this website, I'd suggest doing that before going much further.
Recent world events have had a huge impact on everybody, but it's only in the last few weeks that I've really understood how it's hit me. I count myself as very fortunate - both me and my family are still healthy & well. Despite suffering a job loss but receiving none of the support made available from the Government, I don't have immediate financial worries, and I have a skillset that I'm pretty sure will be in increasing demand as the economy recovers. As it is for so many others, making decisions about finding new work ASAP vs. the challenge of covering childcare when you don't yet even know what kind of childcare you're going to need over the next few months is really hard; never has one day at a time been so true! I'm grateful for being in a reasonably safe position at the moment, but while I'm also fully aware of the pain & suffering around the world, selfishly this post is about me.
I'm not particularly anxious about the future work-wise, I know we'll get through this and that the future might be a bit different - when you think about it, that's always been true! But I've realised in the last few weeks how important the activities I do at work are to my own identity. I like to be working towards something, making an improvement, learning about something new, pushing to reach a goal, or finding a nugget of data that changes the way we think about a problem. But most importantly, doing it with a team.
Being an INTJ, what I hadn't factored in was the impact from a lack of people. I wrote in my last update about how supportive I've found the local small business community, and that starting to record a podcast with some pals has kept me in touch with others on a work basis. That has been fantastic, but the enjoyment, satisfaction, effort and reward of working with other people towards a joint goal feels like a huge gap in my life and is something that I hadn't really recognised as being important to me. It's not so much the lack of a regular paid income that's hit me, it's the lack of having a regular challenge to work towards with others.
Countering this, I've started a project to build a pond in the back garden with my two older children - it's required teamwork, a clear goal to work towards and also problem solving along the way. Having that on the go has really helped, even though we've had to pause at the crucial moment due to potential water shortages in the UK! Come on rain...
The fantastic Furloughed.life and Digital Candle schemes have also given me a way to connect with start-ups, support charities and gain new and different experiences working with them - and it's really helped too.
The toughest moments have been during quieter days where I feel that there is something I should be doing - I'd usually have had a workload to get through, or admin to complete. That's when the restlessness kicks-in, I start to feel more tense and anxious, and then lose my ability to focus on anything.
More positively, I'd like to take this as an opportunity to say a huge thank you not just to my family who are helping me through this everyday, but also to everyone else who's reached out in anyway; whether it's tagging me in job opportunities on LinkedIn, having random chats on WhatsApp, offering to buy a week's food shop (really blown away by that and yes, I declined as there are people in much much much greater need than me), or sending me beer in the post (that was awesome - you know who you are if you're reading this!), it's all really appreciated.