Well, here we are. The end of the summer, and the end of my experiment in lifestyle design. In my last post, we discussed the life of an entrepreneur, and how it is full of blurred lines. You are always working. Even if you're not working, you're trying to network to get work. But isn't that the opposite of why I got into freelance in the first place- a flexible schedule and the ability to travel whenever I want, work whenever I want and live wherever I want? It was time to make good on the lifestyle design I created.
A huge part of what intrigued me the most about the life of a freelance designer, was the flexibility. The ability to take big chunks of time off. It allowed me to travel more, play more and discover more about who I am and what I want to do with this thing called life. Certainly, I love what I do, but my work is not my life. My life is my family, friends, music, art, travel, hopes, dreams, spontaneity and discovery. So why do I feel so guilty when I'm not at work on a project? Why do I feel the need to work my social media and network both on and offline when I should be reading that book I've been wanting to start, checking out the latest installations in the local museums, meeting friends for lunch and getting a much needed massage- without feeling guilty about it. That's the tricky part.
So I decided to conduct an experiment in my lifestyle design, or the lifestyle design I claim to want. I decided that I would take this August off, completely disconnect from work. I finished up a project at the end of July, without any work on the horizon. I packed up my family and moved out west to a little beach town where I use to live, one of my favorite places on earth. I rented a little two-bedroom cottage by the sea and I just relaxed and took each day as it came. It was so fulfilling.
I did not allow any feelings of guilt to creep into my mind. I only allowed positive reinforcement from my inner voice. I continued to pat myself on the back, telling myself that I've earned this time. It was working hard over the last quarter, all those late nights and weekends that allowed this wonderful August to happen. This August of relaxation, discovery and spontaneous adventure without an ounce of guilt. Let me tell you. It felt so good.
It was actually very easy to do. I simply contacted my clients and let them know that I would be on the west coast for the month of August. I rarely take meetings in person these days, especially with the ease of Skype. I assured them I was still just a phone call away, and if there was any sort of immediate design need, they would be able to get in touch with me. And wouldn't you know, not a single phone call came in all month. Most of my clients were taking their own vacations during August. Every single one of them applauded my ability to take a month off, and wished they could do the same. I would check my email Monday through Friday for about 20 minutes each morning. Then the day was all mine. It was liberating. And on August 28th, I received a call about a new business opportunity, a new project in website design. I said I was available to start on September 1st. And that's exactly what I did.
So the next time you find yourself feeling guilty that you are not slaying12 dragons all at once, remind yourself how you got to where you are. And why you got into freelance in the first place. I'm sure a flexible schedule and the ability to take as much vacation as you want, is close to the top of your list. It's at the top of mine. Stay true to your real goals, the goals behind the goals, the original gangsters. Design the lifestyle that you want and make it happen. Life is short, so live it the way you want. Compromise less, and reward yourself more. Entrepreneurism is a lonely job, so you must give yourself rewards and positive recognition along the way. No one else is there to do it.
Keep moving forward.