It has been almost a year since my last post. I have been meaning to write another one for a while but for various reasons 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. Once this is published, Judith will, in her generous way, continue the dialogue on her own blog.
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 my 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. 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!