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  • Professional
    1. Leave my current job.
    2. Earn a good living as a freelance editor.
    3. Add page layout/desktop publishing to my portfolio and career.

The "professional" category was conspicuously absent from my initial goals for 2007 post. My 2006 goal had been to "earn a serious raise at work," but I had another goal, or rather task, that I knew I had to do during 2006: decide whether I really wanted to continue working there at all. I had taken on the office manager role partly because I really needed the raise it brought, and partly because I wanted to help out more at work. I spent most of the year growing unhappy with work but of course not really thinking about it and more importantly not really doing anything about it. But in November I had a meeting with my manager about the new formalized review process and my goals for the next few months, and that woke me up. I realized that I didn't want to have anything to do with that, and finally admitted to myself that they didn't need a full-time editor and I didn't want to stay anymore or do other work for them.

That realization was the foundation for my claim that this is the Year of Change. After all, there are few things I fear and loathe more in the world than searching for employment, but I knew it had to be done and done soon. Furthermore, I decided that I didn't want to just switch to some other company; if I wanted to be a professional editor, I figured I would have to make that happen myself, as a freelance contractor. These were huge changes for me to contemplate; anyone who's known me for a long time might even say the idea that I'd do it was preposterous. Nevertheless, I'd reached a point where that was clearly my best path, and, oddly, I actually felt good about it, not anxious and full of dread.

So, I started talking to Tony about independent contractor work, and started seriously thinking about when and how to take steps. I also did have feelers out about the possibility of moving to a different company rather than going freelance, and I did let that delay me from taking more direct action at first. However, at the beginning of February the question of my long-term professional goals was raised at work, and that made me decide I had to start moving. I had Tony put me in touch with someone he'd been working with, and I planned to tell work at the beginning of March that I would be leaving at the end of that month.

...and on the last day of February, work told me I was being laid off, effective that day.

Although it was a small shock and caught me off guard, it shouldn't have - it was easily just as clear to them that I was unhappy and that they didn't need a full-time editor as it was to me. And although they thought they were surprising me and were concerned how it would go, I turned it around by saying, "actually, you're trumping me...", and it was a very cordial meeting as we all knew it was the right thing and the right time. Work has been very helpful and generous - I'm not quite sure how discrete I need to be, so I'll just say that it worked out better than if I'd stayed through March and quit as I'd intended. So, professional goal number 1 has been completed successfully.

Furthermore, goal number 2 is under way. One reason I haven't written about all this sooner is that I've been adjusting to my new situation, but another is that I've already been pretty busy with freelance work through that connection of Tony's. So things have been going very well so far. I still need to block out time to do more cleanup work on my resume, and I need to make some other contacts for potential work, but things look okay for the immediate future.

One nice side effect of this change is that I've finally purchased a laptop, a 15" MacBook Pro, because I need a good machine to do freelance work, something that I can also run Windows on (using Parallels, which rocks). I've been talking for a few years now about getting a laptop as my primary computer and using one of my desktop Macs as an entertainment server; unexpectedly, that plan's finally happening. (I still haven't got rid of the TV, VCR and DVD players as I intend to, and rearranged my stuff, but I'll get to it.) I also got a cool laptop bag from Timbuk2, and I realized this is the first general-purpose bag (that is to say, not specifically luggage for traveling) that I've bought for myself since college - my other backpacks and bags were given to me.

Although it might seem like the worst possible time to do this, it's actually exactly the right time. As I said, I do need a good laptop for work purposes - I need to be able to go to client sites, for example - and because I was able to start doing freelance work right away, I'm not in a serious financial hole. I do still have a fair amount of that credit card debt that I've periodically complained about, but another effect of leaving work is that I'll have my 401(k) funds to deal with. I have enough there that I can withdraw some to clear up the remaining debt, including covering the new laptop - and yes, I know there's a withdrawal penalty and taxes - and still roll the larger portion over into my IRA. I'm also pretty confident that I'll be able to get steady contract work; provided that goes well, I should have a decent net increase in my net income.

Finally, about that third goal: when I was still living back East, I was a violinist in the Nashua Chamber Orchestra, and I also produced their program books from 1995 to 2002. I really enjoyed doing the layout and production of the books, and I haven't done anything like that since the last one that I did for them in 2002 after moving here. When I talked with John last November, after realizing that I couldn't stay at work much longer, he asked me what it was that I wanted to do, and without hesitation I said "editing and layout." I'd really like to do layout/design/production work again, though I'm not sure how to get into it. Freelance editing is easy, as I have several years now of professional experience to show for that, but all my layout experience is in that one set of program books, done voluntarily; plus I'm entirely self-taught and haven't done any such work in five years. That's why one of my "mental" goals for 2007 is to take a course in graphic design and layout. It probably won't happen until the fall, because I'm busy right now getting the other pieces of my life shuffled around, but I'll have to plan for it and make it happen. In the meantime, if I do find opportunities to jump into that kind of work, I won't pass them up.

So there it is: 2007, the Year of Change. And boy, things are changing. Who knows, maybe I'll even go out on a date after all...


( 4 have written — Write )
Mar. 23rd, 2007 01:08 pm (UTC)
I'm glad things are working out for you. Good luck with the new ventures!
Mar. 26th, 2007 08:50 pm (UTC)
yahoo!!!! how exciting... i'll try to call soon. a
Mar. 26th, 2007 11:50 pm (UTC)
Ah hah, there you are! Are you still in Florida? I was thinking of calling soon as well, we'll see who calls who first.
Mar. 30th, 2007 01:26 pm (UTC)
2006 turned out to be a Year of Change for me. I changed jobs in February 2006 for example.

My wife is an editor, and she's miserable at her job. I've been trying to get her to quit for a while now.

Ironically, on my one year anniversary, the company laid off about 100 people, NOT including me.
( 4 have written — Write )

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