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magic wand

First of all, let me start by apologising for the radio silence since I last wrote here. I can’t believe my last post was over two months ago! Those who know me will be aware that it was my son’s wedding at the end of July, so I’ve had rather a lot on my plate, both in the run-up, and thereafter, catching up with work. It was such a lovely day, or even long weekend of celebrations, and I really enjoyed getting thoroughly involved, from helping to arrange the flowers, making one tier of the cake, choosing the wine (such hardship!) right up to the glorious day itself and getting together with friends and family to share in an extremely special day. At times like this, you really don’t want work to get in the way…

Confetti

Of course, as freelancers, it should be relatively straightforward for us to determine our own holidays, and in theory it is. In practice, though, the laws of supply and demand don’t always work quite the way you’d like them to…

Back at the end of June I had an unusually quiet spell – looking back now, it was probably only a couple of days, and I never had a completely empty desk, but it still felt eerily quiet compared to the usual chaos. Chatting to clients suggested they were quiet too, and I know, from many years’ experience (see Feast and Famine), that I should have been able to smile and relax in the knowledge that the normal order would soon be restored. For some reason, though, probably because I knew I was going to be taking time off for the wedding at the end of July, it really got to me. It wasn’t as if I didn’t have any offers of work, but the ones I did have were either completely unsuitable. Legal? Financial? Out of my technical comfort zone? Don’t even go there. Accepting a job that you really aren’t comfortable with is never a good idea, especially when you’re quiet and might be tempted otherwise…

When I narrowly missed out on a job offer by walking the dogs at the wrong time (sigh), one client even asked me if I’d accept a lower rate than usual as I was quiet on the basis that they could send me much more work if my rates weren’t quite so high. Well, thanks, but no, thanks. That way lies a slippery slope: once you’ve agreed to work for a lower rate, what’s to stop them never sending you any work at your higher “standard” rate ever again?

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It wasn’t even as if I didn’t have plenty of other non-work jobs to do: the end of June was peak harvesting time at my allotment, so I was able to use my “free” time to pick my laden blackcurrant, redcurrant and gooseberry bushes and make jam to my heart’s content. Just as well, in retrospect, as it would have been such a shame to let it go to waste! I managed to finalise my accounts for my accountant, do some tentative marketing enquiries and do my client statistics for the year – all things you struggle to do when you’re flat out. In previous years, I’d even been on holiday at the end of June, so why couldn’t I just relax and enjoy the break?

I suspect it comes down to the control freakery that lies at the heart of many self-employed people. We love to be in control and ideally I wanted to work hard at that particular time, knowing full well that I had a hen weekend in France to attend in mid-July, closely followed by the wedding and its preparations at the end of the month. But things don’t always work out as you’d like. Still, be careful what you wish for: in a matter of days, I had more work offers than I could shake a stick at and was back to my usual modus operandii, turning work down left, right and centre. It’s been like that ever since. We’re never happy, are we?! I still managed to take time off for the wedding, though – getting your priorities right is key to a successful freelance business, after all. And those magical family times are there to be treasured…

Magical

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