Wednesday, November 11, 2015

On changes to plan

Back on 1 August, when I took on my current major freelance project, it was scheduled to end on 30 September, right at the tail end of the school holidays. My plan, at that stage, was to work hard til the 30th, enjoy our 5-day spring family holiday, come back and have a couple of weeks catching up on life stuff and facilitating our kitchen renovation before starting to source new work.

The best-laid plans of mice and men, etc.

Firstly, although the spring holiday still happened, my project got extended to 16 October, which was a readjustment to my ideas about the first two weeks of term. Then the kitchen reno got pushed back a week to start, and has dragged on longer than we'd hoped (it is *almost* there now, but it's felt like a pretty lengthy 3.5 weeks so far). Then, just as I was looking with longing eyes towards 16 October and Stumps Day on Project, the client extended again, so now I will in fact be finishing with this project tomorrow, on 12 November.

Of course, from the time the second extension kicked in, I've been diligently telling myself, Never mind though, it's all good for the bank account ... and you'll probably be really quiet with work from then on. Maybe you won't get any at all til next year! (This thought was both attractive and terrifying in equal measure - the ancient push-pull of more time / better health management / family tasks vs money to pay the bills).

Turns out ... notsomuch.

I've just been very fortunate to secure an engagement on a major project for a different organisation, doing quite similar work to that I've been doing, but in a new environment. My new client is comfortable with my preference to work at home other than for meetings / briefings, and the work is very substantial - it will amount to between 2 and 5 days every available week between next week and the end of March next year. (The nature of it will necessitate a tidal work pattern, where more hours are performed coming up to document release dates and fewer in weeks when documents are out for review).

So my ideas about having a long, long summer have been kyboshed. I'm still taking 17 December - 4 January off - the kids finish school for the year on the 18th, and I am hosting family Christmas Day here this year, so I really wanted to keep that pre-Christmas week free of work. I can't remember if I've ever worked the gap between Christmas and New Year, but I certainly have no intention of starting this year either.

I would've liked to take longer. I was looking forward to taking longer. But the exigencies of this project just make that impractical. It was certainly not an issue over which I was prepared to give away an interesting project that will assure my income is at a solid level for the first half of next year at least.

I won't go onsite to the client in the January weeks if I can avoid it. I think I'll manage, juggling around the kids, with a combination of swap days with friends, fun days out with grandparents, my partner taking a week off, and home days where the kids and I do our own things, in our own ways. I certainly won't work 5 days any of those weeks, either, leaving some time for beach, park and library trips, ice-creams by the bay and afternoon teas in cafes.

Sometimes changes to plan are scary, and sometimes they are good. Sometimes they are both at once :-) The biggest trick for me is going to be pacing myself so I don't precipitate another health crisis; I will no doubt flare off and on with my chronic conditions, but I can manage flares in a way that means I can keep functioning if I am careful and don't try to thrash myself along.

It's nice, though, to have work, to feel like I didn't make a mistake leaving my job earlier in the year. It's nice to think that when I decided to try for a work style and pattern that suits me and my family, that the gamble has paid off. That makes me feel good, even while I am a little daunted too.

This is post 11 in NaBloPoMo. 11 down, 19 to go!

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