Balancin’ Freelancin’

Like several of my readers, my professional life is in some ways more complicated than that of someone who works a single full-time position in an office or classroom. Never am I reminded of this more than at this time of year, when each day my little pile of W2’s and 1099’s grows. This past year I was a resident teaching artist for an inner city preschool, taught my first semester of college theatre, directed a middle school play, acted as a direct support provider and educational consultant for a child with special needs, substitute taught a lot, stage managed two touring productions, designed lights for five dance concerts, and provided an array of technical support for productions at two private schools. I had my good gigs and my less-good gigs, my lean times and times where I could give my  landlord rent two or three months in advance. I navigated a health care maze, first paying a great deal of money for coverage through COBRA, and then going through a needlessly difficult application process trying to secure health insurance that was less expensive than my rent.

There’s a lot of balancing to freelancing. In this economy I find it even harder to say no to work, as I wonder if at any minute any one of the gigs I have could fall through. I started 2009 with a strong sense of I-Need-Work/Life-Balance, and I do think some progress was made. I like to think I work a little smarter than I did in my early twenties– I have a better sense now of what my work is worth and (a little) less inhibition about letting clients know what that is. And I can say with certainty that I was happier professionally in 2009 than I had been in 2008– the year I made a difficult decision to leave a full time position I had held for sometime. I had wondered if I would be okay jumping back into the world of the self-employed and I definitely am glad I did. But evaluating which jobs to take on and which gigs would be best walked away from is a challenge that really never goes away. Sometimes i’m just grateful for the work but too busy to have a satisfying personal life. Sometimes the work pays the bills but gets in the way of more fulfilling professional development. Sometimes it’s all going so well I can hardly believe it– but I feel anxious that something will slip and the juggling will catch up with me. Sometimes I’m just trying to make ends meet and I wonder if I’d be better off in a full time position with a group health insurance plan and a predictable day or two off each week.

Question  for the World: How have Work/Life Balance challenges and financial considerations influenced your choices in how you have structured your professional life? What advice would you give to others in the field?

New Year…

I’ve been wanting to get back in the habit of blogging here lately but haven’t had much time to get my thoughts together. I definitely am at something of a crossroads again professionally, and have been thinking about priorities and possibilities the past few days. So, in honor of the New Year I thought I’d post some New Year’s resolutions for my professional life.

1. To blog and write more about my field in general.

2. To embrace what is fulfilling to me professionally in my working life, and do a better job of cutting my losses when fulfillment isn’t in the cards.

3. To really update my teaching portfolio and expand it to include video of my work.

Question for the World: And what are your resolutions for your professional life in 2010?