What's next?

Diversions, Opportunities and Planning Ahead – What’s Next?

This year has been one long diversion from the plan I started with, but that isn’t a bad thing and probably no different from many other years when I think about it. As I move through my current projects though I’m left wondering what’s next?

There is a fantastic truism “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans”. For some reason, I’m feeling it more acutely this year. Maybe that’s because I started the year with fantastic intentions on writing and, while I’ve written thousands of words, only a small percentage of those have been towards the things I wanted to write.

This year is dramatically different than I had imagined or planned in January, but that happens – a lot! And the diversions and opportunities that have come from them have been fantastic, this is definitely not a complaint about how this year is turning out. But the volume of diversion and what’s come about was so unexpected and continues to be so. On top of that, it’s now August and my goals seem to have slipped away for another year – I know what the workload for the next few months looks like, that’s not an exaggeration.

While that is a disappointing reality, there are two things I’ve been doing in the last week: stopping to take stock of the opportunities I can take/make from my current workload; and working out how I might claim some ‘own’ time back in my life.

The curse of freelancing

I’ve never regretted leaving my government job, although I have had (and continue to have) doubt about my ability to succeed as a freelancer. Those of you who work for yourselves will probably be wildly nodding to this next bit – it’s often a feast or famine existence. Either, you are overwhelmed with work and unable to work on growing the business, or all the side projects you likely have because that’s why you wanted to freelance in the first place. Or, you are looking at an empty schedule wondering where your next job is coming from, and hustling so much you can’t really focus on those side projects anyway.

So while the free in freelance can indicate a level of freedom to choose your work (tasks, times, clients etc.), I’m sure I’m not alone in slightly overloading myself when paid work is available. At the moment, this isn’t a drama because I’m doing some really interesting work and I don’t feel overloaded – okay, except when I have to deal with some people who have been engaged to deliver components of the work. Then I get flashbacks to managing people and break into a cold sweat 🙂 no that’s a lie, but my workplace tourettes is back with a passion at the moment.

Okay. Okay. What’s next?

There is a need for me to start planning though. The nature of the work I’m doing means it will taper off quite a bit by the end of the year. This means I need to consider what is going to fill the gaps created in my schedule, and in my bank balance. So my mind is turning to what’s next, and how I might position myself for the next thing.

I could take some time and advance the writing project I had for myself, or progress the other writing idea I’ve come up with during all the course development I’ve been doing. There is a story I need to get onto paper sometime soon, or I fear it will leave me for someone else; and then there is the book about the consolidated lessons from My Year of TED and beyond. Or one of a squillion other ideas that have come up in the last six months.

Making decisions

The potential of all this is the fun part, this is the time that I am filled with anticipation and hope about what I might create and the impact it could have. It is the purest pleasure I get from creating, again I doubt I am alone with that given how many people come up with wonderful ideas all the time and never put them into action.

Sometime soon I will have to start the hard part; the part that is sprinkled with moments of joy when something comes together well, but is mainly filled with angst and doubt. It’s the part of deciding what to work on, and then applying myself to creating that ‘thing’. And then alongside that, how and where will I get my next piece of work? For now, that’s all fun though, because it’s the daydreaming and vast opportunities. So I’ll enjoy it for what it is right now, and maybe put off decision making and planning for another week. Or maybe I should start outlining and defining all the ideas so I can make a better-informed decision?

Either way, I need to start planning soon, because the end of the year will be here before we know it.

Do you freelance? Are you good at managing your time in the high and low activity periods? I’d love some tips and advice if you have them. Oh and full points to anyone who got the reference for Okay. Okay. What’s next? 🙂 

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