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Making the most of the skills you already have

In the last twelve months I’ve flitted between trying to become a pro photographer, fine artist, web designer, web developer, mobile web designer, after effects illustrator, natural foods chef, food blogger and rockstar graphic design freelancer. I think that’s the lot. If I left anything off it wouldn’t matter. All this hustle outside of my 9-5. I must have been crazy. Why take on so much? I wasn’t trying to be everything, though it looked like it. I was just trying to find a solution to my work situation that was making me miserable. I thought that if I put in the effort to learn a new skill I would be putting myself on a path, not of discovery and exploration, but a path to success that would allow me to leave my shitty day job and my asshole colleagues. At the end of this year, I’ve had a lot to reflect upon – a lot of uneccessary stress and thousands spent on courses, and equipment. I do have enough to show for it, but no peace and no career change. Or did I?

What I did resolve to do, before the year was out, was draw a line and say “enough, this is ridiculous!”. I made a list of the things I hated about all the ‘careers’ I had embarked upon and I found a distinct thread. It highlighted the things that I could live without and the things I couldn’t. I made an inventory of the equipment and skills I had but was taking for granted. The clouds parted. I claimed I hated graphic design and wanted a change – a chance to do something different. Other people had also convinced me that I needed to be upskilled. I realised that the whole year was an expensive lesson in trial-and-error. I’ve managed to narrow things down to what I want and thrown out all the shit I don’t need to make lots of money. I’m still a freelancer. I managed to reduce my 9-5 to 4.5 hours a day, leaving the rest of the hours to pursue creatively challenging things that I can build an income on. I’ve gone back to my iMac and decided to milk CreativeCloud for all its worth based on my existing conceptual design skills and no more.

Guess what, I made 78K in three and a half months from freelancing. I did this by simplifying things and making the most of the skills I had already mastered – instead of trying to completely change who I was and yearning for someone else’s success.

I don’t regret the last year, but I won’t repeat the exercise. I am, however, pursuing photography as a part-time project instead.

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