Happy holidays to you! No matter which holiday(s) you celebrate – or even if you celebrate none at all – I hope you’re able to spend quality time with the people who mean the most to you.
As nurses, we often didn’t get the opportunity to spend holidays with our loved ones because we were scheduled to work or got called in. Now that I own my own business, I find it a real blessing to be able to choose whether or not I work over the December holidays – or at any other time of the year!
If you want that flexibility, too, you might consider this list of three things you should do between now and New Year’s Day to set yourself up for success as a nurse writer in 2020.
1. Organize Your Computer
I know many writers who work from their dining room table. Or their living room sofa. Or the coffee shop down the street. They either don’t have room for a formal home office, or they prefer to work on the go.
No matter what type of general workspace you prefer, you will be more efficient in the new year if you take a few minutes to organize your computer. What I mean is:
Set up a dedicated account for your business email using your preferred program and put an icon for that account on your desktop, if possible
Set up folders in your word processing program to easily organize incoming work. Personally, I set up a master file called “2020 Clients,” with subfolders by client and then by month (if applicable). This way, I don’t waste valuable billable time next year organizing my files.
Make sure your backup plan (whether it’s saving files to the cloud via Dropbox or using a backup service like Carbonite) is installed and working
Make sure your antivirus is active and up-to-date
Place icons for all important programs on your desktop, where they’re easy to access
Taking care of these small tasks now will allow you to fully focus on acquiring clients and projects in the new year.
2. Set Up Your Calendaring System
I always aim to be transparent with you, so here’s the truth about me, when it comes to calendaring: I don’t do well with digital calendars. My brain has trouble conceptualizing the big picture in pixels, as opposed to on paper.
That’s problematic, because a paper calendar can’t alert you when you’re on the brink of blowing a deadline or forgetting an appointment to interview a source.
So, I use both digital and analog calendars. I use colored pens to note deadlines, project information, and other stuff in a Planner Pad (not an affiliate link), and I use Outlook’s calendar for appointments and such. Honestly, I also write down appointments on my Planner Pad. Redundancy works for me.
Some writers I know use large wall calendars that allow them to visualize the entire year, quarter, or whatever. If that works for you, by all means do it!
The important thing is to figure out a calendaring system that works for you and then use this week before New Year’s to make sure it’s set up for you to hit the ground running next year. That might mean inserting existing deadlines, marking out vacation time, writing in your proposed office hours, or anything else of importance to your schedule.
3. Cultivate Your Growth Mindset
I’m not too much of a “woo” oriented person. I don’t believe in the “Law of Attraction,” for instance, nor do I believe crystals give off healing emanations – to name just two examples of what I consider “woo.”
But I do believe in science. And I believe strongly in the power of the human mind.
Carol Dweck’s research supports the notion that people generally possess two core mindsets: fixed and growth. In a fixed mindset, a person believes intelligence (along with personality and character traits) are static; you only possess a fixed amount of it, and this can never change.
In a growth mindset, you believe that you can constantly develop your intelligence, abilities, and personality traits into something more.
People in a fixed mindset tend to describe themselves as a “type.” For example, they might say, “I was never an athletic type,” or “I’m not the type who excels at mathematics.” These people believe they never can improve upon these attributes. They believe are stuck where they are – because the intelligence gods or whomever only blessed them with a certain IQ level – and they will be stuck there forevermore.
In a growth mindset, people believe they have the ability to grow. They might say things like, “I was never the athletic type as a kid, but now I’m going to embrace a workout routine because I know I’ll get more comfortable with it over time.” Or, “In nursing school I wasn’t the type who excelled at IV calculations, but I found a mentor who helped me develop great math skills during my first year on the floor.”
When nurses come to me for support and mentoring to launch a freelance writing business, I encounter the fixed mindset frequently. Typically this comes out when we talk about marketing. They say, “I’ve never been a salesperson,” or “I’m not the type of person who can do sales.” This mindset implies they believe they cannot develop the skills and traits needed to succeed at this very basic requirement for success as a freelance writer.
Developing a growth mindset is crucial to your business success. You will face many challenges (such as marketing your services) that push you out of your comfort zone. If you have a fixed mindset, you will avoid these challenges altogether, or you will give up immediately when you encounter an obstacle (like a stack of “no” responses from prospective clients).
This week of solstice/Hanukkah/Christmas/Kwanzaa, start developing your growth mindset so you fly into 2020 with the belief you can succeed as a freelance nurse-writer. You can begin switching on your growth mindset by:
Noticing every time you say you’re “not the type” to do something and replacing that assertion with one that is more growth-oriented, such as: “I’ve never been the entrepreneurial type, but I know I can learn everything I need to know to succeed as a freelance writer.”
Writing down the challenges and obstacles you expect to face in your first year as a freelancer and then penning a corresponding affirmation, such as: “I may find it difficult to market my services, but I know this is a skill I can learn, and I will practice marketing every day until I become good at it.”
Embracing your imperfection. People with a fixed mindset tend to worry a lot about how smart or competent they appear to be, how they look (are they dressed appropriately? Makeup done to perfection?), how foolish they’ll look if they make a mistake. On the other hand, people with a growth mindset don’t care too much about those things because they view them all as opportunities for…growth. This holiday season should give you ample opportunities to feel vulnerable and imperfect. Use those experiences to embrace your beautiful imperfection and ask yourself how you can grow from it.
You Can Do This
This week I’m spending some quality time doing that most stimulating of chores: filing. My desk is piled high with the detritus of a year’s-worth of productivity, from check stubs (yay!) to do-lists so long they make me feel anxious (boo). But I find organizing to be very grounding. By the time I finish, next week, I’ll be filled with energy to go forth and slay the new year. Are you in?