In my first post of 2012 I was a little cagey about my new year’s resolutions. However, when I shared a sneaky peek at the corner of my desk in my sixth photo of the day I also gave away one resolution: to take work seriously again. It’s amazing, how easy it can be to fall out of the habit of working in a disciplined way.
It’s ten days later and I’m pleased to report that my backside rarely leaves my office chair during normal business hours – and I’m absolutely loving it (although I need to get a proper office chair – when I said ‘office chair’ I was using the term very loosely, and the one I’ve got at the moment is actually a hard wood chair that is slowly crippling me). The key was to start regarding the effort I’d been putting into my charity work as actual work, and take it seriously as I would if somebody was shelling out for the benefit of my great wisdom and experience. The outcome has been that I’m getting a vast amount done, greatly increasing the chances of something tangible being achieved. And – perhaps even more importantly (certainly if you’re the poor sod who married me) – I’m so much happier and more positive. I shouldn’t be surprised, really, and the only mystery is why it took me so flipping long to realise that, by regarding myself as unemployed, I was making myself miserable.
So I’m still not earning money, but that’s OK. As the Notorious B.I.G. said, Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems. No, seriously, I will be delighted when I am earning a decent wage again, but I’ve been reminded that my skills don’t evaporate or lose their value, just because no mofo wants to pay to use them right now. And I’m not being melodramatic when I say that: I have applied for any jobs relevant to my experience (a grand total of three, since April 2011), and have only had one interview. The latest job I was denied would have involved being the ‘brand management and community investment executive’ at a large energy company. It’s a job that my assistant in London would have done with with style, but I’m apparently lacking the necessary skills/expertise/X factor for it.
And one great side effect of all this industry has been that I’ve forced myself to put my money where my mouth is vis-a-vis freelance writing. I don’t know whether I’ve mentioned it here, but for a while I’ve hankered after developing a non-fiction writing career (spurred on, in part, by some very lovely and encouraging comments from people who have read my blog). In particular, I wanted to write about issues relevant to my expertise: corporate social responsibility, community engagement, pro bono, the non-profit world and how people and businesses relate to it… you get the general idea. I had plenty of ideas for features, but didn’t actually do much to get things moving. But last week it all changed: I wrote and sent away three submission proposals, and I’ve agreed to produce some work for a business magazine – a series of articles about corporate social responsibility and smaller businesses. Given that something like 95% of New Zealand businesses employ fewer than ten employees, this is a big group of organisations that could be converted to the dark arts of getting involved in their communities during the working day.
Don’t worry your pretty little heads about it all: I know that it’s nigh on impossible to make a living as a freelance writer (in a market as small as NZ, anyway). I want to do it because I’m a bit of a bossy sod and want to teach people about the stuff that I know. And I want to help my fellow countrymen to do great things, ideally while avoiding the teething pains of organisations in countries that have been doing things for longer. Another useful side effect will be that getting stuff published will raise my profile locally, which should make it easier to advance some of my other projects.
I’ve also had some encouraging responses from other publications I’ve approached for information about their submission guidelines, so I’m hoping to fling some more ideas into the ether fairly soon. Aside from work-related stuff, I’ve got a few general ideas for features as well; I think that it will be easier to get stuff published in mainstream magazines when I’ve got a track record in more specialist magazines, so I’m starting with what I know and moving on from there.
Anyway, I don’t tend to talk much about the specifics of my work on my personal blog – in the past it was because I didn’t want to talk about my firm while I was working for it (you know how employers can be a bit funny about these things). But given that my professional life in New Zealand is likely to be best described as ‘portfolio’, I’ve decided that it’s sensible to gather together information about my work-related activities in one place. That one place isn’t here: I know what you fellas are like from the pages that I see you visit – it’s all Kardashians, rugby players and nicknames for Tristan with you lot. I’d like to keep that blog and this blog separate, but leave me a message if you want the link and I’ll send it to you. You’re not missing anything much just yet, though – I only started it yesterday.
All in all, I’m glad that I’ve been able to regain the habit of working like a normal person. And who can really complain about work when the charity stuff involves reading fascinating stuff about great ways to help people, and the writing side of things compels me to read lots of magazines!