One of my closest friends just passed away unexpectedly, and I have spent the past couple of weeks trying to process this news. I was going to try to write about her here, but my feelings about this are so raw that I can’t bring myself to say much right now.
Her passing reminded me of how important it is to take a step back every once in a while to make sure that I’m not getting so caught up in deadlines that I neglect other things in life that are more important. My friend and I had one of our best conversations on a recent call, one that I made when I was supposed to be getting caught up on a project for work on a Sunday afternoon. I’m going to let myself pick up the phone and call my friends more this year. That would have sounded simple to my younger self, in the years before I had four kids and a freelance business where I constantly have projects due, but now it’s a little more complicated. I’ve come to realize that, kids or not, not making enough time for life outside of work is an occupational hazard. I’m determined to break out of it.
My other resolution is to say no more often to things that don’t matter. I want to free more time to do things that create breathing room in life, like going on a bike ride with my kids or hopping on a train into New York to go to an art museum with them or a park we love in downtown Manhattan. As a freelancer it is easy to get sucked into long conversations with tire kickers or to take on the wrong projects. And in a suburb like the one where we live, where there are endless children’s activities, it is easy to agree to jam in just one more fun extracurricular commitment, to the point that everyone is rushing all the time from place to place. This year, I’m going to be more careful about what I say yes to.
And yes, I want to build my business, too. Thinking back on six years of freelancing, the relationships with clients and projects that have been most meaningful always involved a collaboration that helped both of us learn and made each of us better at what we do. Working with people who care intensely about quality keeps me excited about my work. In 2014, I want to spend 100% of my time in situations like that.
Meanwhile, I’m going to be on the lookout for new tools and ways of doing my work that help me achieve more in less time. I figure if I can find even one new software or app that saves me an hour or two a week on the tedious parts of my business, like record keeping, that’ll be good progress.
And it will make it a lot easier to pick up the phone more often to call the friends who really matter.
Happy New Year!