I haven't officially written about my latest career change on this blog, so I decided it was about time! Last month, I entered the freelance life, both coveted and feared by many 9-5ers. In May, I gave my workplace of two years an advance notice and began researching for new health and dental insurance, following up on doctor's appointments just in case, transferring my 401k to an IRA, and paying off any outstanding debts while I still had a steady paycheck (including an unforeseen fix on my car brakes, actually replacing them completely, ugh). I had saved a good cushion for a few months of living expenses, not quite 6 months which seems to be the most recommended, but it was something to fall back on for these first few months of build-up to new clients.
Why did I decide to become a full-time freelancer? Likely many of the reasons you would imagine. Freedom, I tell you! To manage my daily schedule, to travel and visit family whenever since I can bring my laptop to work on with me. Not to work less but to work more fully. More time spent on the types of design projects I love to do, a chance to have more often one-on-one interaction with clients as I continue the freelance branding work I had been doing on the side, more time with my loved ones (including my dog, who has seemed so much happier these past few weeks that I've been home).
I enjoyed many aspects of the work I did at my previous job and I don't regret the two years there one bit. I also don't completely rule out moving on to another typical 9-5 job one day, if it's a job I want to do. But, I knew it was time to run my own design business full-time when my mind kept wandering to the idea. I was seeing design work that other people were doing that I longed to do but simply didn't have the energy for after a long day at the office. I was able to fit some personal projects in at night and on the weekends but it wasn't enough, and I was tired. I was feeling disconnected to myself and my gut told me how to try and fix it. Now, I'm excited not only to begin new design projects but to begin a new path of self-exploration. To do something hard, that pushes me to be a more developed artist. I know I will struggle with finding my way through new workflows, clients, processes, income, and more. I'm going to panic sometimes. I welcome it all. I'm looking forward to pushing through this mass of life and work and seeing what forms.
I've had a taste of what new challenges this freelance life brings, and that I'll save for another post after I've had more time to deal with them. For now, my best advice for anyone contemplating a change like this is to go with your gut, and save as much money as you can now to lessen the panic later if this is something you decide is best for you. Be prepared to doubt yourself, and then silence it. Instead of pushing away your fears, address them head on and work through them. Imagine your worst case scenarios and realize those can be dealt with, too. Your best comfort is yourself. You can do it!