Thursday, May 28, 2015

On changing the game

So the big news here is that I resigned from my job on Monday. Four weeks today, on Thursday 25 June, I'll be once again self-employed, by my own free and considered choice.

I've been heading towards  this decision for a while now. My workplace was very good about making some adjustments for me when and after I was so sick last year, and I felt, despite a few reservations, that it would be the fair thing to do to give the part-time jobshare arrangement a proper, serious try. I feel I really have done that, in the past 5 months - I've done the best work that I was capable of, and I think (I hope) I've delivered some value. My jobshare partner is an absolute delight, and working with her has been very positive.

However, with the best will in the world, the challenges and volume of the work, and the reality of being part of an organisation in a state of radical flux, have proven incompatible with maintaining my health in any kind of equilibrium, or keeping balance in my life.

And this is not a small thing, either - the life logistics challenges are as unrelenting as they've been from the very start of this 2-year journey. One of the enormous boons of freelancing for me in 2011-13 was the almost total flexibility it gives around how you organise your time. (Not necessarily "how much time you work", but when and how you deploy it). Clients, on the whole, do not care if you spent Tuesday morning at a school cross-country and the dentist, and picked up the slack by working a few hours Wednesday night. If you deliver the right quality of work by the deadline, they're not interested in what path you walked to get there. This is not the case for salaried employment, and I have never really made a good, long-lasting peace with the timetable juggle that having to be "somewhere else" most of the time imposes.

Piecing together office work with school runs, sick days, dental appointments, special occasions for the kids, the everyday business of family life, is often fractured, and often balanced on a hair, in a way that I just didn't have to contend with when I was freelancing. Obviously sharing the load with my partner has been all that has made this possible, but even there, the solution is imperfect, because his job also (not unreasonably) has expectations of him.

All that said, it's not a small decision, choosing to give away stable employment and move into the precariat. I acknowledge the privilege I have, because I am in a relationship with a partner in stable, well-paid employment, in even being able to take this risk.

My plan is to take most of the month of July off. This will allow me to enjoy ComiCon with my family; relax in the two weeks of the school holidays with the spouse and kids (including a few days in Marysville); have a bit of concentrated novel-writing time; do some decluttering and reorganising; and clear off a backlog of life administration jobs that have been piling up. After that, I'm going to start up freelancing again. I hope there will be some work - we'll see. I did enjoy freelancing a great deal in 2011-13, and I hope I will again.

I'm going to give it a good go, and only start regular-job-hunting in the second half of 2016 if there just isn't enough freelance work going. I'm already beginning the logistical part of this, with my newly-reissued ABN, and putting together my rates sheet and portfolio. Next will be a simple website, business cards, and work email address.

I think we'll be OK financially, so long as I can get enough work to go close to, or ideally replace, my part-time salary. I feel that if money gets tight, my skills are current enough that I should be able to find another salaried job if I need to next year. For now, freelancing is the right direction for me, though, and what I am hoping for is to recapture the flow in a way that helps me sustain myself and my family.

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