On Fitting Life into Work, Instead of Vice-Versa

I often talk about the money aspect of freelancing. Sure, I make good money. Great money, compared to many writers.

But money isn’t life.

One of the main reasons I love the freelance lifestyle is because it allows me to fit my work into my life instead of having to fit my life into my work. Let me explain.

When I was nursing at the bedside, I planned my life around shifts, scheduled call, and random call-ins to cover for nurses calling off sick or something. Like many of you (don’t deny it!) I strategically declined calls originating from the hospital on my days off.

And then, if I decided to listen to the voicemail after all, I often felt guilty for not calling my charge back and saying, “I can hear the desperation in your voice. So, sure, give me an hour to change into scrubs, pack a lunch, and shuttle in from the parking lot to cover that shift.”

I felt I constantly had to sacrifice my personal life for my profession.

During my nursing career, I…

  • Abruptly canceled medical appointments due to getting called in to work

  • Missed holidays with my family due to taking my turn at holiday coverage

  • Abandoned shopping carts full of groceries because I got called in mid-shop

  • Canceled a long-awaited vacation with my late husband because my unit had several nurses quit all at once

  • Had to work while my dad was on home hospice and literally dying in my dining room because I couldn’t get a nurse to cover my work shift

The list goes on.

I’m not whining about it. I knew all of this when I took up nursing. But that doesn’t mean I ever liked it.

You’ve been there, too. I’m sure of it.

Once I got acclimated to the freelance lifestyle, I realized how liberating it was to fit my work into my life instead of having to fit my life into my work – the way it had been when I was at the bedside.

Today, I never have to worry about being interrupted by a client while grocery shopping. As I’ve (literally) said to a client before, “There’s no such thing as a ‘writing emergency.’” I never have to cancel a vacation because something related to work comes up. When it’s my mom’s time to pass, I will be able to manage my schedule to give me all the time I need to stay at her side and tell her I love her.

On a less-monumental scale, too, I enjoy the schedule freedom I get from freelancing. Yesterday I took an hour off in the middle of the day to take a long walk in the sunshine with my dog. I frequently knock off work early so I can spend more time with my mom. I can always go back into the office in the early evening, after she’s retired to her bedroom to watch TV.

I mean, this is what life’s really about, isn’t it? Spending time with loved ones and pets. Spending time on self-care, like spur-of-the-moment midday hikes because the weather allows.

Life’s not about money. It’s about the limited amount of time each of us is afforded to inhabit this existence of ours – and how we spend those precious minutes.

And, true, some of us may be experiencing a LOT of time with loved ones right now, under quarantine. I hope you’re able to see the blessing in that (amidst the potential madness it may be inspiring!).

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