My 5-year plan

I’m coming into the final stretch of what has been a pretty crazy two months, mostly because I made the decision to have what essentially amounts to three jobs: my part-time agency job, my freelance business, and a contract job. On the AMWA listserv, there was a question posted recently about the wisdom of combining freelance with a staff position, and the consensus was that it’s not easy, and that it is more likely to lead to scheduling issues. Yep. Gotta agree with that. For both my agency job and my contract work, which is really a remote staff position, I must set aside certain number of hours per week. And then my freelance work gets scheduled around the set hours. There comes a point where you realize that there are only 24 hours in the day, and at least some of those must be devoted to sleep and the occasional shower. Thankfully, I can eat and work at the same time.

Insane. Yes, I know. I have been told that repeatedly. The only way I have been able to get through the month of May is to remind myself (and my incredibly understanding and supportive family) that it is temporary.

You see, I am rapidly approaching the end of my second post-graduate school 5-year plan. The first 5-year plan was to establish my career in medical writing and buy a house. Check and check. The second plan started when my first child was born and will end with the ideal balance of work and personal life.

Okay, stop rolling around on the floor laughing. It is possible, I just know it.

Anyway, I got it into my risk-adverse head that I was going to transition to a freelance career gradually over 5 years, with periodic transitions that would keep us financially solvent. I did not factor in keeping myself sane. In any case, I continued to grow my career and my freelance business, taking short breaks to have a family, until I realized I could not sustain the full-time agency job. So I went part-time, and my business continued to grow, most recently with the addition of the contract work.

I love what I do, and I have this habit of taking writing and editing jobs and then realizing later that there may not be enough coffee in the world to sustain me. And then I run the very real risk of doing a poor job – and that is not acceptable at all.  There is nothing worse than having a client question whether you are overextended or incapable.

So my 5-year plan technically ends when my son turns 5…in August. Tick tick tick. Obviously I can’t sustain this level of work, so the time has come for me to make this decision, once and for all, and get going on my next 5-year plan. I’ll let you know how it turns out, but right now it’s time for me to make the June 5 R01 deadline for two of my clients. See you in June!

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One response to “My 5-year plan

  1. Excellent entry. I like the 5yr intervals and the goals you’ve set for yourself and your career. Since I finished my contract a few days ago I’m now helping hon with a freelancing gig he has and though it only consumes a few hours a week I can’t imagine trying to balance that with lab or writing work. Kudos to you! Can’t wait to see what your next 5yr plan looks like.

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