As usual I started this piece by going back to review what I wrote last year. If you’re interested, it’s here. I don’t much care to be reminded of birthdays these days, so I have switched to calling it an anniversary.
The traditional gift for four years is linen but as we head into autumn that doesn’t feel quite right. The modern gift is fruit. My one-time nemesis!
I did reward myself this year though with a new corner desk for my office so that I can enjoy a view of the garden rather than a wall. And an ergonomic chair, sitting on the old racer back gamer for too many hours at a time started to take its toll.
I started the new trading year by working directly with an SME to kick start their marketing effectiveness journey by building their first set of models. I’d done this once before in 2020 and it was just as enjoyable this time around.
Sometimes, it’s the brands you’ve never heard of who have the most interesting business challenges.
For 2022 I took on my longest assignment – part time at 3 days a week for the whole year. I gave notice after 7 months due to personal reasons. Completely different situation to when I did the same last year. Which, incidentally, did not harm my longer-term prospects of working with the same client. We’re still in touch.
Although it can be hard to confront, if you handle tricky business situations early enough, with respect to your contractual obligations and a measure of good grace it’s certainly better than struggling on for too long. Easier as a provider than an employee, I have found.
At one point I was also working 2 days a week concurrently with a second client. It was OK, but we cut it short by mutual agreement because although the team were short-handed, they struggled to get tasks lined up for my working days.
That’s in stark contrast to my current client who I’m just finishing up with at 2 days a week. They are more used to working with freelancers in this capacity and it’s been a dream engagement, not least because the end client is a very deserving charity.
I think my biggest insights are that the value of one working day means different things to different teams. When both the 3 day a week and 5 day a week clients needed extra, and who doesn’t at times, it made for some very long weeks.
Concurrent clients are not an experiment that I’ll rush to repeat to be honest. The better variety on all counts (pace, type of work, culture) doesn’t make up for the increase in my stress related to immovable deadlines and unplanned delays etc.
That all said, I had my best year for revenue and so can afford to spend most of Q4 focusing on the flipside of the paid work coin.
In Q4 last year I joined the board to trustees of the literacy charity that I volunteered for before covid. At a very turbulent time when due to the pandemic and other challenges nothing was certain about the charity’s future.
With several board meetings and a successful funding bid under my belt I’m about to take on a stint as Treasurer. It totally plays to my skillset, and I know that the current nerves I have will pass once I get that first finance report created.
I’ve continued to work as a STEM Ambassador, taking on a few stints as an online mentor to both GSCE and A-Level students who are after a sounding board for their next steps. That’s been easy to fit around paid work commitments as it is all online.
Last year I also started and ended a data role with a start up not for profit. I learned that just being passionate about a cause isn’t enough. What was needed was more than I could give, and neither really in the area that I wanted to lend support for.
The next paid assignment that I’ve got lined up is for four days a week. Leaving plenty of time for voluntary work to also be done during the working week. One client at a time, maximum four days a week. That’s the forward ambition.
Last year I hinted that we were eating better. A bout of covid in March also saw to it that I even went off gin (only for a bit.) But it was seeing Sarah Millican’s latest gig that turned out to be the game-changer.
She mentioned that she did a voiceover for Couch to 5k. I downloaded the app and it sat there on my phone for a bit. I started the program last November and graduated on New Year’s Eve. Still then some distance off 5k, I’m a very slow runner.
I was doing 5k by February and conquered 10k at the beginning of May. I’ve recovered from an Achilles overuse injury and have now just started half marathon training. Not for a race, just want to see whether I can do it.
I’ve gone down in clothes sizes. No idea if I’ve lost weight because we don’t have scales. Some people don’t quite know what to say and have fallen back on skinny. Not really – I’m leaner, but strong, or sturdy are better words. I’m only 5 feet after all!
My energy levels have increased and so has my appetite, but I’m training five times a week so it’s all in balance. One of the reasons I quit the long gig is that I’ve started experience more obvious perimenopause symptoms. Moving more definitely helps.
Running can be inexpensive, apparently. Not according to the google sheet I recently compiled to add up how much I’ve dropped on/invested in all the gear. So there’s no danger you’ll see me winding down too much on the paid work next year.
If you’d like to know more about what I do or when I’m free, please drop me a line. Promise no run chat … unless you want to.
© Jo Gordon Consulting Ltd 2022