with Mir Kamin
I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.
To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/
The year is nearly done, and so it’s time for me to reflect on how my business did this year, and what I want to change for next year. There’s no law stating I have to do this, of course, but it’s a little exercise that I find goes well with writing checks to the IRS and weeping uncontrollably.
Oh, I’m kidding. I don’t cry while I write those checks.
I come up with new swear words, instead.
Look, ever since the first time I got completely walloped with taxes, I have a little mantra I like to repeat to myself: This is an excellent problem to have. Having lots of taxes to pay means I made money. Having more taxes to pay than I planned for means I made more money than I thought I would. If there’s a better problem to have, I’d like to know what it is.
Still, it’s the perfect time of year to reflect, to start planning for next year, and to just generally see where my business is at.
2009: The Good
1) This year I finally incorporated. I’m still finding my footing with the changes—at the moment I’m wading through the year-end payments and paperwork I never had to do before, and I’m pretty thankful to have a patient accountant—but I am tremendously proud to have taken this step. While it was a decision based mostly upon tax implications, it means more to me than tax savings. It means I’m official. It means I’m really running a business, here. And the tax savings are pretty nice, too.
2) I made a little more money this year than last. While that doesn’t matter to me tremendously in the absolute sense, 2009 was a difficult economic year for a lot of people, and I actually lost several contracts at the beginning of the year and expected to lose even more. The fact that I didn’t end up struggling (and even grew the business a little) is a tremendous achievement. And I’m not going to go all faux-modest and pretend it isn’t. I’m proud of myself. I’m also profoundly grateful, because some of it was due to my hard work, sure, but a lot of it was due to luck.
3) I stepped way, way outside of my comfort zone. I haven’t discussed this because I am an extremely superstitious (read: paranoid) person, but I contracted with a literary agent this year for a project. While it hasn’t yet gone anywhere, for me that was a huge step outside of my own personal mental box. (That box, by the way, is labeled “Fear of Failure.”) I have some decisions to make about what happens next, but for me that was an important demonstration that there’s more left for me to do and try.
2009: The Bad
1) Every year I commit to take care of my personal health and fitness better, and every year I fail. 2009 was no exception. I’m tired of being a cliche in this regard, and annoyed with myself for once again blowing it off because it’s not easy.
2) Forget “work/life balance.” Let’s talk about reducing my stress level so that I don’t drop dead of a heart attack before I’m 40. I did not manage my stress well this year. I need to make this a priority before I get a wake-up call in the form of a health crisis.
3) I picked a couple of projects this year that drove me to the brink of insanity. I still need to think smarter about the work I take and what my overall goals are.
So, with all of that in mind…
… 2010: What Will Be Different
1) Thanks to a wonderful group of friends and some public accountability, I am committing to make 2010 the year that I learn to like exercise or perish in the attempt. I will lose 10 pounds during our initial challenge, and 10 weeks is long enough to form new exercise habits I can sustain throughout the year. I think. No, I know.
2) I will take a vacation this year. A real vacation. Our extended family is planning a Caribbean cruise in June and I’ll be damned if I will spend a week on a luxury liner working. I will have a plan in place before I leave so that I can limit my work to 1-2 hours/day while gone. And it may well take me from January until June to make that happen, but I will.
3) Starting next week, I am going to physically slot time on my calendar every week to work on my business plan. I need to schedule time to think. I need concrete goals, and I need time to stop and ask myself, “Is this something that brings me closer to my goals for this year?” I should’ve been doing this all along. This next year, I’m making it part of my routine.
Bring it on, 2010. I’m ready.
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