Starting Over

Making a decision to freelance came with knowing I would have to learn many new things to survive in this new terrain. There’s real comfort in the illusion of certainty that comes from an employer’s paycheck. Was I ready for this change from relative security to perpetual uncertainty? The list of new things I needed to learn seemed endless, and I felt overwhelmed before I started. I’ve come to understand that feeling a bit out of control is a normal function of change. I also know that the key is in starting with one small step at a time, and that same list that almost ended a new career before it started is the basis for this post.

CREATING NEW HABITS

Change often involves forming new habits. Habits are about repetition: doing the same thing over and over again until you don’t even realize or think about what you’re doing anymore. Once your actions become automatic, you know you’ve created a new habit. Like making tea or coffee in the morning. How many of us are half asleep while filling the kettle with water? It usually takes that first cup to really wake up. Yet we don’t get up and think about what to do. We just get up and make the coffee. It’s a habit. 

LISTS: THE MULTITASKER’S KEY

If you don’t already do it, try creating a weekly list. I’m a huge list fan because it helps to keep me focused and accountable. 

Once a week I dedicate time to creating a weekly agenda in the form of a simple, bulleted list of everything I want to accomplish that week. Whatever I don’t finish gets carried over to the next week. I tend to put the smaller, easier tasks on top and like to do them first. It helps me to avoid procrastination (they’re way more manageable) and gives me a quick sense of accomplishment as I mark them complete, with the added effect of inspiring me to tackle the bigger tasks next. For example, I put things like “Get contact information for New York Tax and Finance Department” on top and “Research Website Colors” closer to the bottom because I know it will take longer. This small action alone can make a huge difference in what you’re able to achieve in the course of a day. Remember to celebrate your accomplishments! This is the “Life in Harmony” part, which I’ll talk about in my next post.

RECAP

HABIT #1: Create a master list and review it once a week. Your master list should include everything you need to accomplish your goals, from action steps to supplies and equipment, memberships, and whatever else. You’ll be adding and changing things along the way, so don’t worry about it being perfect. Pick one day a week (I prefer a weekend day) and spend 30  to 60 minutes of uninterrupted time updating your list: cross off what’s done, carry over what’s not, add anything new, etc. Whatever day and time you choose to go through your master list, be consistent. You have a better chance of forming the habit if you stick to the same time and day. See you next time!

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