Shifting Mentality from #freelance to Employee

  • Sumo

This move is fraught with challenges, which is part of what makes it exciting for me. The challenge of starting over, in nearly every sense. New location. New country. New set of tax laws and customs to learn. New people. New office environment. About the only thing that isn’t different is the work I will be doing.

On the one hand, the work I will be doing will be simplified. I had to close my consulting company, and stopped taking on additional freelance work as well. So instead of doing all the stuff for Clio and my business, I’ll just be doing stuff for Clio. At first blush, that sounds fantastic. The headaches of starting and trying to run a business are gone, for the foreseeable future anyway.

That wasn’t easy to let go of, oddly enough. I enjoyed the opportunity, and I enjoyed the ability to roam freely to conferences I may not have otherwise attended and to pretty much travel and work when I felt like it. If I wanted to start late, I did. If I wanted to start early, knock off early to babysit or go to a meetup and then work again later, I did. It was freeing, actually, after having been trapped in a “9-5” job during my previous professional life. I found myself more productive working my own hours. I found I was most productive in the morning after my run, hit a rut late in the afternoon which was  generally fixable by watching Jeopardy! Work for a couple hours more until NBC Nightly News and dinner, catch up with family and some household chores. Sometimes I’d work well after midnight, others I’d make it an early night and start fresh the next day.

I got a really good sense of what works for me and what doesn’t. And I finally learned that taking a break when hitting a rut in the work day is a good thing. I used to think I was being lazy if I did that in my previous professional life. I just had to push through it and keep working or else I wouldn’t be productive. I was afraid my boss would get on my case and people would think I was lazy, had no work ethic.

That mentality burned me out. I didn’t fully understand that at the time. It’s take three years #freelancing and putting some distance between the lay off and then end of my previous professional life to realize that it isn’t when the work gets done that matters, but the quality of the work that’s done. Pushing through a rut or otherwise forcing myself to work when there’s something off is mentally exhausting and produces inferior work. And in an office environment, there’s pressure to conform to the norms of scheduled breaks, even if it doesn’t correspond to my internal clock.

With this move, I’ll be back in an office environment, and that makes me apprehensive. Granted its more a startup environment than a traditional office, but having been on my own, it’s hard to shift my mentality from freelance to employee. Some things are going to be different. Expense, for example. I record them, for tax purposes. Now I’ll have to record them for tax purposes and reimbursement. Extra step. I have to go to an office every day and be around people every day. I’ve met most of the people in the office though, and I’m rather looking forward to mingling with people who are not family during the work day.

Going for a run in the afternoon to wake up, blow off steam or because it was crappy running weather in the morning? Probably not. Sitting on the couch, working and watching #westwing episodes? Nope. Sitting out on the sun porch and working? Nope. So things I did to break up a work day or work week, change of scenery, will not necessarily be possible now. And I’m not sure what to do about that, or how to adjust. I’d like to think I’ll go to the office every day, put in something akin to “regular” hours, come home and enjoy the free/downtime. Attend social media meetups, join a running club, do things that are not work related.

It occurs to me that by no longer having to run a business, a void has been created. And joining a running club, #smcyvr and just getting out and experiencing Vancouver is a way to fill that void. In a sense, a lot of that comes naturally to me. Going to #smcchicago and #lcsn events was fun, and a way to network though I never went with any specific objective in mind. I just wanted to meet and hangout with people who share similar interest. And I very well might be moving a city full of such people.

Perhaps there’s a balance between my #freelance mentality and that of employee. I’d wager a lot of what makes me productive and a success freelancing will transfer well to being an employee. I expect a period of adjustment. Leaving everything I know is jarring in and of itself, but there’s some comfort in knowing the work I will be doing, and having a good re pore with colleagues already. The key will be to not seek refuge in the familiar.

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