2018 was a year of firsts for me. One of the biggest changes I experienced was undoubtedly the decision to work independently. I am a digital marketer and was just finishing my 200 hours yoga teacher training at the time, so ideally my time can be split between those two activities (and a few more that I added along the way).
Freelancing did seem like the logical choice to make as I knew I would be moving quite a bit in 2018, to follow my partner and to visit my family, and I was not going to be able to commit to a ‘regular’ 9-5 job, or at least not for more than a few months.
But more than that, I think I felt called to see what was on the other side of the fence, and to see if I could make it work. Whether in France or in Australia, I had always been someone’s employee, and had never been really attracted to the idea of entrepreneurship. Let’s say the Global Financial Crisis and the ever increasing unemployment rates in France had always lead my 20-something impressionable self to believe that that was just not an option if I wanted to pay rent and not starve. So I had closed this door without even trying to get a glimpse of what could be behind it.
But with a few years of experience under my belt and a bit of a better idea of what my value proposition (as we marketers say) for potential clients was, the path of freelancing didn’t look so scary anymore. I was more confident I could pull this off, despite some (very few) nay sayers encountered along the way. After all, I had moved to the other side of the world on my own, started all over again, had gone back to uni, and had financially supported myself through this journey, hadn’t I? I was ready.
Don’t you love how every trend has its own denomination these days? Ok, maybe sometimes it’s a bit lame, but I must say I quite like the idea of being a ‘slowpreneur‘.
To me, it really means working less, therefore earning less, but living a better life. How’s that?
- Time is precious: I’m not going to sacrifice my short time on this planet working around the clock, just so I can say that ‘I made it’. Sorry fellow freelancers/entrepreneurs, I’m not a fan of Gary V. and the ‘Hustler’s mentality’ 15 hours work day. I would much rather spend more time doing yoga, watercolour, walking in nature or going to the beach. Working is a big part of our lives, it is necessary, but it’s not all that there is. I find our modern day work culture values the ‘busy-ness’ so much that it has become a habit for most people to reply “good, busy” to the usual “how are you?”. I know I always felt like I never worked ‘enough’ as an employee. Being a slowpreneur allows me to work less, just as much as I need to make a living (see point 2).
- Money is a tool, not the end goal. I personally feel like I don’t need a lot of money to be happy. In fact, studies have shown that above a certain level of income, there are diminishing returns with more income leading to little to no gain in real happiness. Being more conscious about what I consume and how I consume has helped me tremendously to reduce my spending, and therefore, my need for money. There were days when I was working full time and earning good money where I’d go on a shopping spree, buy lots of things (and create unnecessary waste in the process) because I was bored, unhappy. I know it may sound new age/hippy of me, but I realised that most of these material possessions weren’t bringing me happiness (quite the opposite), and that I needed to seek that within myself.
- Quality of life: living a better life is a very personal concept, and mine may very well be drastically different from yours. My quality of life has improved in the following ways:
- I can travel whenever I want and for however long I want, and I can work from anywhere in the world that has a good internet connection. Bonus point: I don’t need to apply for ‘annual leave’. That is probably one of the best perks I’ve experienced so far, being an expat who shares her time between Australia and France, and moves around both countries quite often.
- I make my own hours, and I work when I am most efficient. For me, this usually means starting later in the morning (I’m not a morning person), taking a short lunch break and working until I’m done, whenever that is. But I can also go out for lunch one day or to the shops (within reason, of course). I can do yoga everyday at 6pm if I want to.
- I feel like I’m not wasting so much time anymore: commuting to and from work every day, or going to meetings, or taking super long lunch breaks. I do some chores during the week too so that I don’t have to think about them during the weekend. I can make the most out of that regained time and headspace to invest into new creative activities (I’ve recently started watercolours, and I’d really like to learn how to saw).
- I have a sense of purpose: I can finally decide what projects and clients I’ll be working with, and be fully committed to help them. I’m trying to specialise in providing my services to sustainable businesses, and it’s really made a world of difference for me.
The slashers generation
Having more than one job is starting to be fairly common in this day and age. For me, the idea of being able to have two (or more) separate activities is brilliant: it allows you to diversify your skills and have them feed one another, and it means you are less likely to get bored or sick of always doing the same thing.
Splitting my time and energy between digital marketing and yoga means a few different things to me:
- Jobs done purely online like mine can sometimes feel a bit pointless, like they’re not actually bringing value to others. With yoga teaching, I can allow myself to ‘be of service’, to spend time helping others by sharing my passion for yoga, to find even more purpose in what I do.
- I can stop spending 10+ hours a day in front a screen and mix my ‘desk sitting’ routine with a bit of a physical activity.
But I knew I wasn’t going to suddenly become an instafamous influencer/yoga teacher travelling the world (side note: this is a joke).
I was well aware going into freelancing that digital marketing was a much better paying job than teaching yoga, especially when you’re only beginning in the yoga community. Most yoga teacher graduates start with donation classes, or voluntary positions, so I knew even before I started studying yoga I couldn’t exactly rely on this income stream to make a living, at least not in the short term.
And I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Trying to make a living as a yoga teacher would put so much pressure on me, I think it would actually take the pleasure out of teaching and sharing my passion with others. I like the idea that yoga is my side hustle, and that it may grow slowly and organically.
I was lucky enough to secure cover classes in France last summer, and that was the perfect starting point. I also organised two yoga retreats with small groups, which was a great learning experience for me.
And as if these two jobs weren’t enough, I also decided to start teaching digital marketing. In English. To French students. Yes, me, who hates public speaking. I was actually lucky enough to be presented with the
challenge opportunity to give about 100 hours worth of classes in under three months to undergrad students at two business schools in Montpellier. That definitely threw me right out of my comfort zone. I was so anxious I couldn’t sleep the night before my first class, and I could hear my voice shaking when I first introduced myself to the class. It was a lot of work too: 100 hours of class means just about the same number of hours spent preparing your classes, marking exams and attending teachers meetings. But you know what? I ended up loving it with a passion, and I do it all over again.
The great thing is, I feel like I can always reinvent myself, because I have more headspace and freedom to do so. There’s no limit to what I can choose to do: creating content and workshops for curly girls (yes, you read correctly), starting a new e-commerce venture, organising events. Who knows what will be next?