intuition

five month recap

Happy day-after-Valentine’s Day! I know it can be a tricky and emotionally challenging holiday for so many, but it’s always been one of my favorites. There’s nothing better than having an excuse to celebrate LOVE in all of its forms — especially these days, when there’s so much to be scared and upset about in the world around us.

Matt and I went on an early Valentine’s Day date over the weekend (so much amazing sushi!), so we decided to keep last night low-key, but we also started a new tradition. On our first Valentine’s Day together in 2010, Matt surprised me by bringing all of the fixings for ice cream sundaes to his college dorm room. To this day, it was my very favorite February 14, and as a nod to that, we’ve decided to indulge in homemade sundaes to mark the occasion every year. Last night, we had a little date to the grocery store to pick out all the ingredients, then skipped dinner and went right to dessert. As adults, how often do we actually eat a real ice cream sundae? If you ask me, the answer is “not enough,” so Valentine’s Day seems like the perfect opportunity to fix that (especially if you’re ice cream lovers like Matt and I!).

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Anyway, now that it’s the 15th of the month, it’s time for a recap (you can check out my last two recaps here and here)! It’s now been five months since I left my job to become a freelancer. Here are some of the things I’ve learned and have been thinking about over the last few weeks:

  • I’m gaining credibility. A few months into this journey, it finally feels like people are starting to “get” what I’m doing, and I can’t tell you how satisfying that is. When I first left my stable job, I know there were people who questioned if I would actually be working in this next chapter of my life. There was a sense that I’d just gotten married and was throwing this “freelancing” word around as an excuse to get out of my career and be taken care of by my husband. In the last few weeks (and with my last few bylines), it seems that I’ve finally proven to the doubters that I’m working, working hard, and even starting to become successful!
  • I’m becoming more business-minded. As I continue taking on new projects and clients, I’m realizing more and more that my time and talent is worth something. I’ll be honest — when you start as a freelancer, you’re happy to accept any job that comes your way, and you don’t ask a lot of questions. These days, I’m having to juggle so many exciting gigs, and it’s forced me to become more strategic about the way I work and the way I collaborate. I never expected that being a writer would also force me to switch on my entrepreneurial instincts, but it has!
  • I’m being really hard on myself again. In the first month or two of my freelance transition, I did a lot of negative self-talk. I worried if I would ever get the jobs I wanted, if clients would ever take me seriously, if I would ever be able to make money as a writer, and if I’d made the right decision. Ironically, that negative self-talk is starting to come back — this time, because now that I’ve started to gain some momentum, I’m terrified that I won’t be able to sustain it. In my writing life, I have off-days and even off-weeks, just like I did in my corporate life, and I find that I’ve been very hard on myself during those periods lately. I’ve been doing a lot of “should” thinking — “I should do this,” “I should do that” — and I’ve forgotten that trusting my gut and my intuition has gotten me this far in the past five months!
  • I’ve had some amazing experiences. Even with the growing pains I’ve been working through, I am so humbled by the writing opportunities I’ve had lately. It’s been such a treat to continue growing my relationship with Brit + Co, to share some of my personal stories (like this one) with The Kitchn‘s community, and to have my very first print byline (in the March issue of Marie Claire). As always, I’m so grateful to all of you for your love and support of my work!
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This was a pretty special moment. You can find my article on page 136 : )
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one month recap.

I can hardly believe it, but today marks the end of the first month of my freelancing career!  It’s been a busy four weeks, full of hard work, hustle, and putting myself out there more than I ever imagined.  I am consistently surprised by the opportunities I’m discovering each day, and I keep challenging myself to do more and do better in order to take advantage of those opportunities.  There are definitely stressful moments, but I am having fun figuring out this new life, and I am hopeful through the stress, because it feels like I am doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.

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Image credit: Pinterest/iconosquare.com

Here are some key developments from the last month:

  • I am learning to accept rejection.  Working for yourself is an emotional roller coaster, because all of your successes and failures suddenly become that much more tied to your sense of personal worth.  Historically, I haven’t been known to handle rejection or criticism very well (to say the least).  I’m a perfectionist, and I don’t like falling short of expectations, especially my own.  Admittedly, I’m also used to getting what I want, as long as I’m willing to put in the work necessary to earn it.  Life as a freelancer puts all of those feelings to the test, because success is non-linear– working hard and being good at something don’t automatically equate to a pay-off, because there are plenty of other talented people out there hustling, too!  Talent and hard work aren’t the only factors in this business– timing, connections, and pure luck are also involved, and those things aren’t in my control.  The first few times I had a pitch rejected, or didn’t get a response to an e-mail right away, I was predictably hard on myself.  I’m learning, though,that it’s important to shift my expectations and move beyond temporary frustrations because there are infinite potential opportunities for success in my new non-linear world.  It also feels a lot better when I can remove my emotions from a professional situation, and instead go on to the next project with my confidence still intact.  Handling rejection will be an ongoing challenge for me, but I’m happy that I am already learning to see it differently.
  • I’ve become a better wife, daughter, sister, and friend.  For the last few weeks before I made the decision to quit my corporate job, my confidence was at an all-time low.  I felt lucky to be working for such an amazing company, but I was unsure about whether or not it was the right place for me, leaving me conflicted and confused about what to do next.  For the first time in my adult life, I wasn’t sure what I really wanted for myself.  Unfortunately, as many of us tend to do, I took out my frustrations on the people closest to me, especially Matt.  It broke my heart that, so soon after our wedding, my internal struggle was killing what was supposed to be our honeymoon period.  As hard as it was to take a risk by leaving my job, now that I’ve done it, and now that I have proven to myself that I have what it takes to pursue the things that fulfill me, I find that I have a lot more of myself to give to my husband, parents, siblings, and friends.
  • I’m figuring out that a schedule may be less…scheduled than I once realized.  One of the goals I made for myself as I transitioned from an office gig to working for myself was to maintain a schedule.  While I’ve mostly stuck to this by spending time each night jotting down a to-do list and general timeline for the following day, I’ve also learned that creative work doesn’t always fit neatly into structured segments.  As long as I’m not writing something on deadline, and especially if I’m making a first impression on an editor, I would rather give myself a bit of extra time to make sure that my work is of top quality, even if it means deviating from my original plan.  I’ve also learned to be kind to myself and allow flexibility with my time.  When I can’t sleep, I’m working at 2 AM, but some mornings, I’m not at my desk until 11.  If I’m feeling up to it, I put in a few hours of writing after dinner to takes some stress off the following day’s list of tasks.  Whenever possible, I’m listening to my body and my intuition about when I can show up at my desk and be my very best.  As long as I can finish each day feeling mentally tired and creatively challenged, I chalk it up as a success, regardless of the specifics.
  • People are actually reading this blog!  This may seem fairly obvious to you since you are one of those people, but I’m still finding it hard to believe that so many readers are interested in my story!  I started the blog simply to share my journey and point-of-view, and it means the world to me to have so much support.  Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for continuing to read and share!

And now, I’m taking off for a little road trip to celebrate a fabulously productive and fulfilling month.  Happy Weekend, everyone!

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i did it.

I can’t believe I’m typing this, but here’s the big news:

I quit my job today.

Wow.  It looks even weirder typed on the screen than it sounds when I say it out loud.

I, constantly overachieving, straight-shot-from-point-A-to-point-B Alli, have done something completely unexpected.  I’ve strayed from the path.

The truth is that, while this may seem like a surprising and plan-deflecting move, it’s really just a return to my original life track.  I was lucky enough to land an awesome internship in book publishing when I was a junior in college, but prior to that, my focus was all writing, all the time.  The publishing internship was intriguing at that time– could I really spend my life surrounded by books?  I fell completely in love with the idea, and before I knew it, it was three weeks after graduation and I was sitting on a bus bound for my first day in the Sales department at a major New York City book publisher.  Now, almost five years later, I know that I lost myself somewhere in the excitement of landing that job.  And if it means taking an unexpected turn to get back to where I want to be, then I need to make that leap.

It’s been a privilege to work where I’ve worked for the last few years.  I learned to interact with lots of different kinds of people, saw the inside of corporate America, and read hundreds of books along the way.  But, it’s important to follow your intuition (I’m a big fan of Jess Lively and her work on this subject), and to know when to take the next step to get where you really want to be.

So, here we are– at the next step!

What’s the plan?  The plan is to write, and to create.  The plan is to learn, and to network with people who are interested in what I can do and what I have to say.  The stars have aligned over the past few weeks and I’ve made some exciting contacts out there in this exciting online world.  I’ve already jumped into some freelance assignments at a few fantastic outlets, and I’m looking forward to building that portfolio.  I’m excited to share my work as I gain momentum!

Thanks for following along as I start down this new path.  It’s never too late to follow your gut instincts, or to try to work your way back to the beginning.

 

 

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