Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The joys of self-employment

Happy New Year!  A bit belated, but I hope everyone had a good Christmas.  As always, it went too quickly, but I was somehow glad to get back to the usual work routine.

For me, the one thing that looms larger than anything else in January is the TAX RETURN.  Like a visit to the dentist, I do everything possible to postpone it until the last minute.  Although I'm relatively good with money (in other words, I'm tight), I have a total phobia of numbers and financial figures.  But the tax return is a necessity, and it's one of the not-so-pleasant consequences of being self-employed.  Since being made redundant from my 'proper' job some 17 months ago, I've had to adapt to the life of a self-employed freelancer, and mostly it's good.  While filling in the dreaded tax return, I started to wonder if there was anything about my old employed life that I missed, and the answer was a resounding "not much".  Apart from the guarantee of a regular salary, holiday and sick pay, the occasional company of co-workers, there's not much else that I miss.  Certainly not the joys of public transport, of having to face the world when I feel like death, and being restricted by the 9 to 5 routine.  In contrast, self-employment allows me the freedom to have a long lunch with friends and catch up with work in the evening, or to spend an afternoon working in the local library, or to sit in the car working while my husband does the food shopping (my least favourite domestic chore after changing the beds and ironing!).

But working from home alone is not for everyone.  I don't actually mind my own company, but I can imagine the long periods of silence could be too much for some people.  It would be easy to go stir crazy.  I have no choice but to mingle with people on a daily basis - taking my daughter to and from school means I'm forced to interact, but it also means I get 40 minutes exercise of brisk walking every day.  In addition I meet friends for an exercise class, for lunch and attend a craft class once a week - just to keep my sanity, and exercise my social skills.

When things aren't going well, I look back to the days just before I was made redundant - in a job I no longer cared about, feeling out of my depth and questioning every aspect of my working existence.  Today, although I still have occasional bad days, and I'm significantly poorer financially, I feel more in my comfort zone.  Every penny I get, I am really aware that I've earned it, so I've developed an even greater awareness and appreciation of the value of money.

So, do I feel envious when I check out the progress of former colleagues on Facebook - in management positions and earning bucket loads more than me?  The short answer is "no" (for now anyway...).  Happy Homeworking!!

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