Monday, 20 March 2017
'Are you trying to get to Brighton?' she said. 'Yep, it looks like the world and his wife are hey?' I said.
And that was the moment. That was the start of my #FreelanceLife. A chance meeting on the platform at Lewes train station. That chance meeting that became my first client and my longest standing client to this day. Two whole years on.
Today, my LinkedIn pals have been congratulating me on TWO YEARS of becoming my own boss, becoming the force behind my own future and becoming the person I always dreamt of being.
I know this will sound cliche.
Time flies when you're having fun. So much fun.
Working for yourself and doing a job you love is fun.
Working for yourself is incredibly hard. But it is incredibly rewarding.
What have I learnt in 731 Days?
I've learnt to be prepared. Be it a chance meeting of a prospective client somewhere totally random or a last minute meeting request - I ALWAYS carry my laptop, my business cards and a notebook. Even if I'm technically not 'at work'.
I've learned to believe in myself. Before I found the world of Freelance I felt like I constantly had to prove myself in some of my previous roles. We all like to receive a little recognition and a little pat on the back when we've done something good don't we? It builds our confidence. Now, there is no better feeling than when a client turns to me and says; 'Donna, this is amazing.'
I've learned to put my business hat on. We've all been there. Overdrafts, credit cards, loans - whatever it is that still haunts us from our days of being a student we all hate talking about money and we all sometimes get ourselves in a bit of a pickle. But working for yourself you become a little bit obsessed with budget sheets, invoice trackers and expenses. You work hard for it and you aren't afraid to ask for it on time, or ask for what you know you deserve.
I've learned to say no. There are some projects that land in my inbox that I just think, this isn't me. And that's okay. There are some projects that land in my inbox that request favours or 'pay later' terms. And the answer is no. I've learnt the hard way with this before. Never work for free when you're a freelancer. You've worked bloody hard to get here. You wouldn't go and do your food shop at Tesco, then get to the till and say - 'Can I pay you next week?' would you?
I've learnt to take better care of myself. Working for myself has worked wonders on my relationship, my friendships and my mental health. It's taken some time and some ups and downs and a whole lot of figuring out what works for me but this lifestyle suits me. It doesn't give me sleepless nights, it doesn't bring me out in a rash and it doesn't make me question myself. I am in total control and I make sure (most of the time) I take breaks, I relax and I get regular massages for sitting in front of a screen for too long! #FreelancePerks
I've learnt the universe really does have your back. This might be heavily influenced by the fact I'm reading said book by Gabrielle Bernstein, but this is true. There have been times when I've felt like throwing the towel in. But, once I take a step back and revaluate, I see things clearly and it's like someone, somewhere brings more work or that invoice gets paid...when you believe you can - there is always someone out there cheerleading for you.
Finally, I've learnt that #FreelanceLife brings you the most amazing set of new friends and connections. From Pippa at The City Girl Network to Dan at Bamb, to Rosie at Digital Team on Demand to Felice at Jellyfish and SO MANY MORE, being a freelancer has introduced me to so many amazingly talented individuals and a whole circle of new friends. And that's not including my totally awesome set of clients who I class as friends and colleagues - these are the guys that made it happen for me and these are the guys I am FOREVER grateful for.
I can confidently say that I never want to 'work for' anyone again. I can also confidently say that I will never 'work for' anyone again. This life suits me. And I love this life.
The next 731 days look INCREDIBLY exciting. There is a new business venture for me just around the corner, one that I feel proud of and one that I feel has been brewing over the last 24months. I can't wait to share it with you all...
And so, to the last two years and to everyone who has believed in me, thank you. I wouldn't change it for anything.
Tuesday, 3 January 2017
2017 is officially in full swing and I've been taking some time out over the last few days to plan my goals for 2017, as well as looking back on the 365 days that have just passed and some of the lessons I learnt throughout 2016.
1. Find your Tribe
Find your tribe. I found more than one tribe in 2016. From new friends in extended circles who I now class as some of my best friends, to meeting the amazing Brighton Girl's - this year I learnt that your 'tribe' can be incredibly powerful.
Meeting like-minded individuals and sharing life stories within minutes of saying 'Hello, my name's Donna', planning trips to here there and everywhere and giggling like your 10 years old again.
Uniting with people you never imagined your life would lead you to, can have an amazing affect on your happiness, your wellbeing, your belonging, your confidence. All of it.
I encourage you to find your tribe. Find a local social group, take a deep breath and go along to a meet on your own. Trust me, you won't look back.
2. Don't Rush
Whether you're 21 and you haven't passed your driving test yet, or you're nearly 30 and you haven't flown the nest; don't rush.
In the middle of 2016 I was in full panic mode. I was almost 28, I was still living at home and I had no immediate plan to move out. Suddenly it felt like all my friends were buying houses, getting married and having babies. I hadn't even thought about any of that.
Then before I knew it there was a big old change happening in my life and quickly I moved out into my first place.
Looking back now I realise I never needed to panic, to rush, or to worry about what the world thought about me living at home with Mum. None of that really mattered. And actually I learnt so much by being at home just that little while longer.
I'm a firm believer that things will happen when they're meant to and not a second before.
3. You Will Survive
Life can be a real shit. Can't it?
Life can turn upside down in seconds. One minute everything in the garden is rosy and then one phonecall, one email, one knock at the door can throw everything out the window.
But no matter what happens, no matter how tough life is, you will survive.
You can have what feels like an endless supply of bad news but when life feels like it's all downhill just take some time to appreciate the things that can pick you up.Your family, your friends, your health, job or that running club you go to every week. Never take the good stuff for granted, it's there for you.
With bad times, there will come good. Just don't lose hope and remember you will survive.
I'm taking these lessons with me into 2017 and I'm already excited about the year ahead. I'm ready and armoured!
Thursday, 29 December 2016
I've finally flown the nest.
Moving out. Those two words I thought I'd put into action many years ago when I finished Uni. I thought I'd be the girl who never came back home after Uni. I pictured myself living in London or maybe New York, working in a high rise building, living in a high rise building, working for a blue chip company and being a 'proper grown up.' But life doesn't always go the way you think does it?
I became a home bird. I loved spending time with my family. I didn't like change, I didn't like separation and I didn't like thinking about life without my family. But things do change and seperation does happen. Relationships end, people get sick and sadly we all leave this earth at some point...
These experiences taught me to cope better with big changes in life but at the same time it made me become more anxious. I worry about people a lot. Perhaps by being at home this whole time I felt like I had a comfort blanket, something there to protect me from the bad stuff? But the bad stuff happens anyway, right?
I've been so lucky to have such a close knit family. My parents, my brother and I are all so close. We've all followed different paths and we've all been through our own ups and downs but no matter what we stick by each other.
My mum and I are incredibly close.
We have PJ nights with endless hours of boxsets and plenty of chocolate. We can gossip for hours about an article we've read on the Daily Mail App (guilty pleasure!). We bake. We shop. We laugh hysterically. We support each other through the storms without judgement. Like two peas in a pod.
Being at home, I thought I'd never grow up (that's my inner Peter Pan right there!) and the boxset binges would never end.
Circumstances change, life throw's you a curve ball, you fall in love, you suddenly feel like an adult. And voila - you're on a totally different track to where you thought you were going. But that's okay, that's the pathway that fate leads you to and that's the pathway to your next chapter.
For me, instead of that high rise flat and that high flying job, I've just moved to a beautiful village in the middle of the countryside and I earn my living by being a digital freelancer with a passion for reading books. It might not be what I dreamt when I was a little girl but right now I'd say I'm living the dream.
Life is all about chasing those dreams. Dreams can change and alter. What makes the dream real is a feeling of wholeness, contentment and happiness. Accepting that whatever has been and whatever will be is out of our hands and what is happening right now is all just part of our exciting journey.
So hey, it might have taken me longer than others to flap those wings and fly the nest but in that time I've ironed out some new hopes, I've learnt a few lessons and without really even thinking about being 'an adult', I've reached adulthood with open arms bigger than I imagined.
It's okay to be a bit different isn't it?
Friday, 28 October 2016
Do I like change? Well I don't think any of us like lots of changes all of the time, do we?
Over the last 4 years, I have embraced change and I've learned a lot about how change can make you a stronger person.
The next few months will see a BIG change happen in my life and in anticipation of this I thought I'd share my thoughts on the subject of change...
We make decisions every single day of our lives.
What to wear to work?
What to eat for lunch?
And even what time to go to bed.
Our routines are based on a series of decisions knitted together to form a sequence...something that becomes familiar.
Something we call day-to-day life.
Our routines can be affected by big life events like love, health, death and money. And sometimes we can feel like our lives are 'all over the place' - a little off balance, a little uncertain.
Waiting in anticipation of something to change in our hectic routine to put the balance back in the picture.
We wait for the world to change.
Going through uncertainty can be massively stressful for us. We can't sleep because our minds race with thoughts and anxiety about tomorrow. We panic about the future - 'Where will I be?'.
Our foundation feels like it's been built on a plate of jelly...know that feeling?
But with patience and strength, I believe we can fix that wibbly wobbly foundation, come out the other side and make the world we live in change.
I recently made a BIG decision. A decision to finally fly the nest. At the ripe old age of 28. Some might think this is really old to be leaving home but actually, I just needed to wait for my world to change slightly so that I would make my world change...take that leap finally, no backing out.
When something happens beyond our control it's like fate is telling us it's time. The world is making a decision for us.
And so for me - my fate has told me over the last couple of months it's time to fly the next and create my new pathway.
However anxious I might be feeling about moving out I am also excited.
I'm excited to be taking charge of my future.
I'm excited to be a little less of a 'Libra' and think about myself and my journey a little more.
It's good to take care of yourself now and again isn't it?
I'm sure the emotions that I will go through over the next few weeks will be a huge mixture of ups and some downs, but what's important to remember is that change is positive and change can help solidify that jelly on a plate.
Wednesday, 14 September 2016
I've done it. I've ticked off one of my 'to-dos' before I hit the big 3-0.
A couple of weeks ago I accomplished number 21. I got a new piercing.
On a completely random afternoon after a meeting finished I had some free time before meeting a friend for lunch and so I stopped by the wonderful team at Punktured, Brighton.
Having had my ears pierced when I was 8, I begged my parents to let me get my belly button pierced pretty much everyday between the ages of 13 and 16. And on my 16th birthday off they took me to Punktured to get the job done. Since then I've never had another piercing anywhere other than Punktured. I trust the team there totally and can highly recommend them to anyone who is looking for a friendly piercing studio. So clean, helpful, patient and just a really nice bunch of people!
I have 4 or should I say 5 piercings in total. My belly button, first ear lobes - standard, my tragus and now the top of my right ear - not even sure what this is called?! Is there a technical term?
I did actually have every intention of getting my nose pierced would you believe but I have decided against it...for now. So off I went to get the top of my ear pierced!
I had the super friendly Eli pierce my ear for me and even though I'd been in the chair before, Eli put me at total ease asking me about my day and chatting through the procedure with me - we even found a common love for mindfulness and meditation! Eli helped me decide on the perfect position for my piercing and we settled on positioning the ring just slightly lower than the usual spot. I have a tiny bump in my ear so my new piercing hides this well!
It's now been a little over 3 weeks since I had my ear done and it's healing really well. I bathe it with salt water twice everyday and so far I've managed to refrain from picking, scratching and twisting the piercing - it's healing nicely.
It cost £26 to get the piercing done and that included a small silver ring - there is a selection of bars, rings and studs to choose from and after your new piercing has healed you can change it up.
I'm now thinking about my next one...maybe I should wait till after I'm 30 now though?!
Have you got any piercings? Have you ever had anything done at Punktured?
Tuesday, 16 August 2016
And that's not an excuse I know. Maybe this is a weakness?
But the nature of my job means I keep my finger on the pulse most of the day - I check what's trending on Twitter, I follow Facebook Live events and I monitor Instagram stories from top influencers many times a day. It's second nature to me.
So how did I take a step away from it all on my recent trip to Dubrovnik? Here's a few tips to help you go on a digital detox while you soak in the sun...
1. Leave your phone in your room
Perhaps the easiest way to step away from the digital world is to simply leave your phone in your room. Lock it away in your safe if you've got a day round the pool planned.
What's the worst that could happen?
You can pop back at lunchtime to check your messages if you're expecting a call but when your phone is out of site it's probably out of mind. Now pass me a cocktail!
2. Turn off all your notifications
If you're on annual leave, chances are you've set an 'out of office' on your emails or if you're a freelancer like me you might have dropped your clients a note to say that you're away and will only be checking emails infrequently. That way no one can expect an immediate response from you.
Turn off your notifications too - if you need your phone when you're out to call a taxi either turn off your data or just remove your notifications.
Do you really need to worry about what your best mates brother is having for dinner when you're busy sipping Sangrias? Thought not.
3. Pack a camera
With thanks to the smart phone it's too easy for us to forget to take cameras out and about with us now. We can take a snap of whatever we want, whenever we want.
But with a smartphone it's not just about taking a photo off the cuff.
It's now all about adding a filter, posting to Snapchat, sharing on Instagram, checking in on Facebook...oh all the places that photo needs to go.
But the reality - well it doesn't.
So invest in a decent hand-held camera, hold off on the sharing functionalities and just get totally lost in snapping shots of the scenery and sunsets.
4. Build a playlist on an iPod
Old skool? Nah. I recently did this whilst I was away with my niece and my mum. We spent the weekend listening to some tunes we had loaded to Mum's iPod instead of streaming from Spotify.
It made the whole thing a little more enjoyable as we took ourselves back to some of our favourite songs when I was young and introduced my 6 year old niece to some classics - without having to rely on wi-fi!
5. Read an actual book
Don't get me wrong I love my Kindle. One of my favourite things I own. But when I'm lazing by the pool or about to get on a flight I love a good book in my hand.
I love it when you finish a book on holiday and by the time you get home the pages smell like suncream and the cover adorns a few grains of sand.
Maybe it's a nostalgic thing...
Step away from the phone. Step away from the tablet. And step away from your computer.
Focus on you and see if your hotel or resort holds any mediation sessions during the first couple of days of your holiday.
Or book yourself in for a mindfulness and meditation class before you take-off and get to grips with what it feels like to just be present.
It'll change your life.
What do you do to unwind on holiday? And do you find it hard to totally switch off? Would love to here your top tips!
Tuesday, 9 August 2016
I've been so excited to shout about this book since it landed on my doormat...I just knew it would be everything I hoped it would be.
Laura Jane Williams is a ridiculously talented writer from the UK and author of one of my favourite blogs - Superlatively Rude. I've read Laura's blog for a good few years now and one of the reason's I'm such a fan is the way that Laura is BRUTALLY honest in her writing. No holding back - just her own, raw experiences tapped onto her keyboard and shared with the world. Very brave move but one that I'm so glad she has done.
As a twenty something myself there are many blog posts of Laura's that I read and think - 'that's so me' or 'ohhhh - so that's why I felt like that'. Reading Laura's blog is like sharing your darkest secrets with a best friend and getting the validation behind why something makes you feel a certain way or how you can get out of that negative situation. She has this incredible way of writing that makes you feel like you've known her for years...her book really made me want to be her friend!
We all get it. We get that 'what am I doing with my life' feeling - waving around us throughout our twenties and making us feel unsteady. Becoming is Laura's thoughts, feelings and experiences of that time and how she has grown into a strong woman from page one to the last chapter. Oh and this is Laura's first book!
The book wasn't just an insight into Laura's life. It taught me a thing or two and I realised some things about myself too. And this book ain't even a self-help book! Amazing.
It taught me to be patient, to not criticise myself so much when I feel like I don't have a plan or an answer. It made me realise it's okay that maybe I once made bad decisions, fell in love too quickly, had too many shots or cried all my makeup off. All of that stuff doesn't make you a 'loser', a 'freak' or a 'psycho!'. All of that stuff makes you totally human.
Above everything else that happened in the book - and I'm not telling you what happened because you HAVE to buy a copy and read it - I felt like this is really the beginning of Laura's becoming and I think there is so much more that Laura will share.
The way the book is written is so honest, so truthful (sometimes graphic!) - it's like you can picture sitting sipping margaritas with Laura while she tells you about her memoirs...I don't think I've ever read something that made me feel so right there and with the author before. Maybe that's because as young women we get scared to spill the beans and tell all. But MASSIVE pat on the back to Laura for spilling her beans.
We live in such a 'filtered' world these days it's nice to be able to read something that we can all really relate to. Laura is an inspiration to me and I'm sure many others...
Buy Laura's incredible book via Amazon. And if you fancy reading more books like Becoming then come and join my book club - https://www.facebook.com/groups/gozengirls/
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