It’s Heena’s birthday today. Did I realise that when she offered me 27th February as her own chosen submission deadline for Blogfest? I’m not sure I did, or if I did it has certainly slipped my own memory but this does make it feel more celebratory somehow, doesn’t it? HB HP! And thanks for sharing the story of Your Life Your Way, today of all days.
It has been almost a year since my last blog post. I have been meaning to write another for a while but, for various reasons, I have been putting it off. Last month I received an invitation asking me to share how I run my business in my own way.
Why am I taking this particular invitation seriously and stepping up to the plate again? Because it is from Judith Morgan – my coach, mentor and an altogether fabulous force for good. She is also a self-published author herself, having written a brilliant little nugget called Your Biz Your Way – an essential tool for all entrepreneurs.
When I think about the question, it becomes a little bit bigger. My business isn’t just a business. It is the way I want to spend my life. My business is writing. Three years ago, I finally realised a dream of mine when I self-published my book Coping with the Horroffice. That book came about because of a handful of absolutely awful experiences I survived as a contractor, working for some atrocious companies. I had been lucky enough to work for a few companies at the other end of the spectrum and I wanted to share my hard-earned knowledge, in the hope that it might help others in the same situation.
The self-help genre isn’t the only writing I am playing with. I am currently working on both a script and a fiction book. I’ve written (although not published) some poetry. I’d love one day to write lyrics. Maybe a play. There are so many routes I can take, and I look forward to sauntering down them all eventually.
But for many many years, writing wasn’t my business. Writing was a pipe-dream. I was in a job I didn’t enjoy and had been for over a decade. I was stuck so deeply in my particular rut that it took a major illness to shake me out of that stupor and re-assess my life.
In the middle of what most people would see as a successful career (manager at a Big Four accountancy practice) I took the decision to quit. With no real plan, and no real idea of what I wanted to do. I tried coaching. I gained a qualification, I set up a business and I enjoyed it, but it still didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel fulfilled. I learnt fast this time and I gave up the coaching within two years.
In the meantime I needed to earn money and I reluctantly decided to go back into finance, but as a contractor. It gave me the opportunity to earn money and pay my way, but I was still free from the usual office politics and the pitfalls of a long-term career. My time was my own to a much larger extent. Not only did I not feel obliged to work excruciatingly long hours, I could also take breaks of a few weeks or a few months.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but that was the beginning of establishing my business and my life my way.
Because finally, I wrote. Some of it was terrible, some was ok, some was not bad at all. I wrote blogposts, I wrote articles, and eventually, during my lunch hours at one particularly bad contract, I wrote the draft of Coping with the Horroffice.
Contracting, not having a secure financial income, not having a guaranteed career path, not knowing whether you’ll succeed as a writer – this isn’t the option most people would choose if given the opportunity. But I know now that I need to write. Writing isn’t just a hobby. It’s a vocation, an urge, a need. Contracting gives me enough freedom from the 9-5 to satisfy that need. For example, my current contract is due to finish in early May. Later that month I am hoping to go on a writing retreat and, in the meantime, I am planning to finish the first draft of my script during my lunch hours and evenings.
The knowledge that I live with an unprecedented level of financial uncertainty and yet here I am, surviving and thriving, accords me the courage to do other things my way too. So I am finding myself living more and more of my life on my terms. I am finding it easier and more liberating to do without the need to rationalise and explain myself or my choices to anyone. I realise that finally, I am running not just my business but my life in my own way.
Writing feeds my soul. Living on my own terms by my own rules feeds my soul. I have spent far too long starving. It’s time to feast!
Read Heena’s article in full HERE at her own website.
Wow, Heena! So great to have you back in the blogosphere, back in every sense! Life has thrown a few delays in your path, but they are behind you now and it has been a privilege to walk through those days with you. I am looking forward to more books, to plays, scripts, poems, lyrics and more more more lovely words. As we’ve already agreed this morning, writery pleasures! Thanks so much for playing the blogfest game, I’m glad it got you to write in yet another way today.