Hi David, I am curious as to how long your working day is. I suspect you are putting in long hours yet still end up feeling unfulfilled at the end of it all. But yours isn't a simple case of workaholism, or even perfectionism. Here's the thing that really strikes me about you – you are operating in the same way that you did when you started out 20 years ago. What was appropriate then when you were a rookie may no longer be appropriate now. Let me explain:
1/ Take a good look at yourself. You say that you are well respected and your work is based on your 'knowledge, perception and experience'. In other words, you're someone with a niche expertise in your field that has taken the last 20 years to accumulate. You don't need to be slogging with the heavy work and long hours that you had to do when you first started out. You've had the attitude of a survivalist for 20 years and it simply isn't required any more.
2/ Promote yourself. When was the last time you gave yourself an appraisal: it's popular in the workplace these days and a good idea for us freelancers too. It's important to notice how far you've progressed. Make a list of your current assets and abilities. What do you do that no-one else does? What do people really come to you for? What is so great about what you have to offer? It's time to move up the ladder with a new job description and shiny new badge.
3/ Be more business-like. So far, you've been managing your career, a one-man consultancy. It's time to start thinking about running a business and having assistants. Now that you have more than enough work for you, farm out the more mundane work to someone else, maybe someone working in their own home: they don't have to be working physically next to you with all that that entails. The rule is to delegate everything that doesn't require your golden touch, so you get to oversee, work on the business and only do the select work that requires your level of expertise. This is about making the most of your potential and actually enjoying what you're doing.
4/ Look after number one. You're the talent! It's imperative to keep yourself motivated and energised. Therefore, you have to take time out to carry out essential rest and repair. You sound like someone in desperate need of a break, so take one, and plan for more fun and other interests in your life. What's the one thing you keep saying you'd do if you had more time? Now just do it. Make a call, book it in and get going. Then call three great mates you haven't seen for a while and get together.
5/ Stop working hard. Why be so protestant with your work ethic. Shake free from your attachment to hard work. Your challenge is to use all your valuable know-how and expertise in the smartest, most elegant way possible. Let your rookie assistants do what you were doing 20 years ago and you do the really clever stuff. Reduce your working day by a third and as a rule work no more than four days a week. Relax. Stop making it so hard for yourself. You've come a long way!
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