It isn't often that I am able to proclaim that I am 'caught up' with things. Usually I have several things on my plate that are lined up that need to be doing. In the past month or so, I have had six major deadlines that I needed to meet for various things that I had committed myself to doing. I can't tell you the relief that I felt yesterday when I completed the last one right on the deadline. All of the others came in on time, as well. It was as if a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.
Being self-employed means that we need a certain degree of self-discipline. While many people have the idea that self-employed people are able to call the shots as far as the amount of work that needs to be done, I don't really think that is true. At least not if one is to be successful.
In being a designer, while in some ways I am my own entity, there are may others that I need to interact with in order to achieve success. The many avenues of freelancing not only help my income in a small way, but more importantly they act as a venue to reach groups of people that we otherwise would not be able to reach. By contributing to many different resources such as online classes and publications, I am able to not only 'meet' new people who are interested in my type of designing, but also show them samples of our work. Hopefully that will make them come back for more.
Many times these other venues pay very little. But if I have learned anything over the years, it is that one can't always look at the upfront dollar amount and judge on that. I think that one needs to be much more far-sighted than that and consider all the elements and residual benefits that come from the venture. They go far beyond the initial compensation.
I believe that this is true in just about any type of business – be it woodworking, painting or any type of craft venue. People like dealing with those they are familiar with. Even though they may love new designers, I believe they are more comfortable with those whose names are familiar to them, as it helps bring confidence that there will be not only trouble free purchasing, but also support after the sale is made. Answering questions and helping people out is a very big part of the process, I believe. To me, it is an integral part of what I do.
So I look at the choices that are available for submission of my work and I go from there. Sometimes my submissions are not accepted, and sometimes they are. I have learned not to take things personally when things are passed on, as there are many reasons for this – many which are no reflection on me. There are times when 'timing' is just off or other times when the slots fill up for a certain type of design and my projects are gracefully rejected. I admit that it used to bother me a bit, but after so many years of doing this I feel I have learned to take rejection with a grain of salt. It happens to the best of us. And just because a design doesn't fit in one place, it doesn't mean that it won't fit somewhere else. I just try again.
But sometimes things come in like an avelanch and everything comes in at once. It is at those times when I begin to feel somewhat overwhelmed, for one of the worst things I can think of is making a commitment that I am unable to keep. So I need to be watchful of what 'may' happen and how far I am willing to extend myself. It is a somewhat precarious line to walk at times.
So that is why today I am breathing a sigh of relief. I have been fortunate to have several things fall into place and had many individual deadlines due the past several weeks and much to my delight (and sometimes surprise!) they all fell into sequence and I was able to check them off one by one. It was a huge victory for me business-wise and also personally.
But now what?
When I saw the things stacking up, I began to back off ever so slightly. I still have my 'regular' deadlines that are just part of my business (ads, holiday designs, etc.) but what I consider 'major' deadlines are for the most part clear. It is time for me to begin planning again and start putting out feelers. It is time to once again align things so that in the future I am just as busy as I have been in the past. It is a never-ending cycle. For if I rest on my achievements at this point, the future will be pretty bleak (remember the Ant and the Grasshopper?)
But for today I will take a day of organization. And tomorrow will be a much-needed social day. After I finished my last deadline yesterday afternoon, I spent the rest of the day doing some of the things that I neglected these past weeks. I switched my summer clothes to winter clothes. I took out my autumn decorations that I want to put out today. I went on a "date" with Keith (without feeling guilty or anxious that I should be working.) I tidied up the house a bit.
I still have more I want to do today along those lines, and I think I will. I have several ideas for new designs, but I think I will begin them on Wednesday. Tomorrow I am spending the day with my dear friend and we are taking a ride to the city. Our autumn leaves are at their peak, and it promises to be a beautiful and fun day.
These are the things that allow me to work so hard when I do work. Contrary to popular belief, most people who are self-employed (and successful) actually work HARDER than those who work for others. The days of sitting on the beach or goofing off all day are few and far between. But we still need them. We need to replenish and feed our souls. That is the fuel that we use to keep being creative.
So I will leave you with that today, along with a couple of my favorite autumn projects. . .
The first one is one of my first and favorite candle trays that I designed :
SLD319 Autumn Leaves Candle Tray scroll saw pattern.
And the companion pattern that Keith created:
SLDK148 Autumn Votive and Tealight Candle Tray by Keith.
I wish you all a beautiful day and hope you take time to enjoy this wonderful time of year.
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"