By May 28, 2014 Read More →

How to change direction – and love it

How to change direction - Liz Proctor

Starting to feel fed-up? Then change direction!

Liz Proctor is discovering how to get more enjoyment

both from her business

and her life.

In her guest post she explains how you can too.

I never meant to start a business. But somehow, between being desperate to be at home with the baby boy and equally desperate to use my brain, a charity fundraising business was born. Like the boy, it grew every time I blinked, and kept me running around constantly keeping it fed, clothed and entertained. And, as with the boy, I enjoyed it enormously.

This joyous balancing act seemed as though it could go on forever. But then after several years, suddenly and without warning, came the pause. The moment when I found myself waiting for the other shoe to drop. The day I had Free Time. No boy at home, and no urgent work to do. Uh oh. Thinking Time.

At the beginning we’re all just delighted to have the work, any work. We’re over the moon that someone actually wants to pay for our stuff. (“Really? Are you sure? Um, I mean, yes of course I can do that.”)

Then we’re secretly amazed that more work appears, and we say yes to it all in case it’s rationed. And then even when sometimes swimming feels like drowning, we keep doing it, because, hey, we started this business because we like doing this stuff. Didn’t we?

It took me a while to admit that while there are many things I love about working for myself, and I wouldn’t change it for anything, some of the things I’ve ended up doing for work are either boring, difficult, or downright stressful. Some are all three.

When you realise that if your boss was asking you to do these things you’d complain bitterly about her to your friends in the pub, it’s time to give the boss – you – a talking to.

You really are the boss. You set the direction of the business. You can change direction. You can choose what to do and what not to do. You can say no to work because you “have a bad feeling about it”, and you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone who doesn’t get the Star Wars reference.

So here are my tips on how to change direction and get more of what you love into your working life:

1. Really think about what you enjoy and what you don’t.
Write it down if it helps. And don’t just include the main parts of your business. If you want to spend more time to ride your bike and less time cleaning the house, those are just as valid as wanting to do more writing jobs or design fewer spreadsheets.

2. If there are things that simply have to be done, pay someone else to do them.
I pay an accountant. Not because my financial affairs are complex or because I can’t keep accounts, but because when I have to do them I am not nice to live with.

3. Consider what things you no longer want to do as part of your business, and stop offering them.
It really is that simple. You may have to ease out gradually if you want to change direction and have ongoing commitments, but it can be done. I left a contract role I’d been doing for over two years by persuading the client that they needed to hire an employee to take over, and although they were nervous they now realise I was right!

4. Look for – and create – ways to do more of what you love.
This is the fun bit, and in my experience it becomes magically possible as you ease away from the things that drag you down. If you like one part of your work more than another, promote it more. If you want to take time to draw cartoons instead, well, you’re the boss.

5. Do things for fun, whether or not you think you can earn money from them.
If you’re having fun, that’s a reward in itself, and it may just lead on to something profitable. So teach someone to swim, learn to polka, whatever takes your fancy. Then keep your eyes and ears open. Someone somewhere may be begging for an aqua-polka class.

6. Say yes, and work out how later.
When I was asked if I offered a mentoring service, it sounded like great fun, so I said yes. Then I figured out the best way to do it.

7. Remember, a business is a flexible thing.
I set up mine as a fundraising consultancy. But my accountant tells me that there’s no reason why a business can’t have many strands, and that if I want to change direction and combine fundraising and creative writing within the same business, I can. So I do!

My accountant gives you permission to change direction. I give you permission. Will you give yourself permission to do more of what you love?

work from home secrets

Liz lives, works and writes at home in Suffolk, endlessly exploring the fine balance between consultancy, child-wrangling and creativity. She is trying to make peace with the term home-maker (even though she works full time) and is currently wondering what to do with the 24 tomato seedlings which are bursting out of her greenhouse. Find out more at her blog Live and work at home.

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