August has always been an awesome month for me. It’s my birthday month. (Shout out to my fellow Leos.) It’s the month that I experienced my first kiss. It’s the month I survived what should’ve been a life-ending accident. (Got run over by a pickup truck 1,000 miles into an ill-fated cross-country bike trip, when a guy fell asleep at the wheel in broad daylight in the middle of Nowhere, Montana.) It’s the month I finished writing my first book, The Science, Art and Voodoo of Freelance Pricing and Getting Paid. But above all, it’s the month that I quit my final corporate job forever back in 1999 to go into this wild and wacky world of freelancing.
So, while the rest of the world tends to do their State of the Personal Union in January with New Year’s resolutions and all that jazz, for me, it’s August when I think about where I’ve been and where I’m headed. A recent article in the Atlantic, Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think, happened to strike just the right note at just the right time. No matter where you are in your career, I highly recommend reading it—it’s a lot more hopeful and thoughtful than you might believe at a glance at the headline.
Being of a, let’s say, particular age, this concept jumped off the page for me: “Vanaprastha…whose name comes from two Sanskrit words meaning ‘retiring’ and ‘into the forest’…is the stage, usually starting around age 50, in which we purposefully focus less on professional ambition, and become more and more devoted to spirituality, service, and wisdom. This doesn’t mean that you need to stop working when you turn 50—something few people can afford to do—only that your life goals should adjust.”
I’m no mountain-top mystic nor am I especially touchy-feely, but this hit my browser at a time when I’d been thinking those same thoughts. I recently started mentoring some younger freelancers. In 2019, I’ve spoken at the ACES and Editorial Freelancers Association conferences, and I’m looking forward to doing the same at the NAIWE Be a Better Freelancer Conference in October.
Sure, I’m as ambitious as ever and not retiring anytime soon. The later I get in my career, however, the more I get a charge out of seeing newer freelancers (of any age) strike out on their own.