**Warning: naval gazing and more than a little self-congratulation

Flying by the seat of my pants. Or not being able to reach the pedals. Flickr Commons: National Media Museum
Flying by the seat of my pants. Or not being able to reach the pedals. Flickr Commons: National Media Museum

So on Dec 14th 2012 I finally hung up my Mimas boots and went for it. I’d been working freelance one day a week for a year and decided to go for broke and become freelance full time. It was just a case of whether I actually would ‘go broke’.

Well, it’s been a hell of year I can tell you.

January to March were a little worrying as there wasn’t any work to be seen apart from my LILAC stuff. (Although there was lots of that to be had with my new role as Chair of the LILAC Committee). I was beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t just go and get a job… and then the work started to come in. Slowly at first but by the end of the year I was almost cooking on gas. (Could I get ANY MORE clichés in?)

One of my lovely friends who has a Masters in HR related affairs (can you tell I don’t really know what her masters is in?) suggested that we meet up every 6 months and do a PDR. It’s a brilliant exercise that allows me to reflect on what I’m doing. I’m so grateful for this as it really does help me to think about my business, my courses, what went well, what hasn’t gone well, what other avenues should I look at? What should I do next? Without this I’d probably be slightly lazy and just bumble along a little. So it enables me to have a plan and think about my own professional development.

Our December meetup was great. They always are but by December I was a bit, well, knackered. I’d been working pretty hard and hadn’t really had as much holiday as I should have done. Don’t feel too sorry for me, I had had a week off in May and then 5 days in August, but apart from that it was just the odd day here and there. So I’d sort of come screeching into December with a bit of a ‘well I made it’ sort of lethargy as opposed to really thinking about what I’d achieved. Having to do my preparation for our meeting allowed me to review what I’d actually done in 2013.

So here goes (those who are easily bored look away now)

I have trained for the British Library, The University of Manchester, ASLIB, Edge Hill University Library, Cardiff Metropolitan University Library and Information Services, Rotherham Hospital, Library and Information Health Network NW, Health Education Yorkshire and the Humber and York St John University Library. I did a workshop at the International Web Managers Workshop in Bath and I also did social media one-to-ones with a local business and a colleague who is also a trainer/consultant. I have done 2 days training in French, (I shall say that again. I trained in FRENCH!) and I’ve written an online tutorial for NHS library staff called the 12 Days of Christmas.

And when I looked at it like that, and thought about how many of my clients asked me back for repeat business, I was quite frankly, WELL CHUFFED.

When Gil and I discussed the year, she remembered the aspirational total that I’d said I wanted to aim for as my earnings for the year. We worked out that I’d actually doubled it. (I did aim pretty low…)

When you’re training there are always sessions that go better than others and there are always new things to learn. You’re talking to people sometimes for 6 hours. You’re going to make mistakes. You will realise that you need to change an exercise because it really didn’t work at all. You will realise slap-bang in the middle of an exercise that you didn’t edit a handout properly. AND it will be picked up on. 🙂

Feedback is really important to me and I do review what people have said, so that I can improve sessions in the future. I had another look at this year’s feedback and have started to think about ways of my making my training better. However with apologies for the complete lack of ‘aw shucks’, here are 2 of my favourites:

I have to say that I have now had three training sessions with you and you are the most enthusiastic and captivating external trainer I have had in a long time. I really look forward to your sessions, they never disappoint.

“The entire workshop was conducted in a relaxed and enjoyable manner. Theoretical workshop principles were discussed clearly whilst giving lots of very practical information (hints and tips) that can be used straight away in any presentations. Really enjoyable! I have attended many other workshops and can honestly state that this is the only one that I have ever enjoyed due mainly to the structuring and methods of presentation.”

So if you’re self-employed, and I can’t say this enough, get someone to help you reflect on what you’re doing. Without this I’d probably still be thinking, “well it was okay”, “not bad really”. When actually it was fantastic. Not just because of what I feel I’ve achieved but because I’ve bloody loved it. I love what I do AND I get to do it all the time. It challenges me, (and I can tell you training in French was a big challenge!) and I get to meet and train fantastic people. (Usually of the library variety)

I’ve also met the most patient and flexible librarians on the planet. Yes I’m looking at all of you NHS Library Staff who I’ve worked with this year. You know who you are and you know that working with duff technology is frustrating. You have also borne with me whilst I changed your ‘hands-on training’ to demos, you’ve shared pcs or devices because not everything was working and in one case, actually had a group discussion on social media, instead of what was *actually* planned. (Well as I said as the time it was either that or via the medium of dance)

So 2014 what have you got in store? Well more of the same hopefully. With the emphasis on ‘more’. I want to write my presentation skills course. (I’ve said that for a year but I’m going to do it I am!) I want to learn how to make a good Prezi and use it to train with. I’ve just been on a 2 day coaching course. I have booked out week long holidays in my calendar and at regular intervals because it turns out I really need to have more rest and relaxation than I did last year. In 2013 I hardly booked any hols in and just said ‘yes’ to everything. It turns out I need to fully stop for an entire week otherwise I end up on my knees and not very productive. I also feel more confident about saying ‘no’ to people. I’ve realised that people actually want me to train their staff and don’t actually expect me to always be available on the first date they suggest.

So after a hell of a year in 2013, (for all the best reasons) I know that whatever happens in 2014, it will be interesting, challenging and probably quite funny too.

Which, all in all, is pretty damn cool.

  1. Jane Secker

    Great post Lisa, it is always important to reflect, and you have certainly had a busy year. I think booking the holidays is essential though! It’s really inspiring! Well done!

    • Thanks Jane. Holidays ARE essential.

  2. Steph Taylor

    Great going, Lisa 🙂 So glad it’s working out for you!

    • Thanks Steph! Hope you’re okay too.

      • Steph Taylor

        I’m fine – enjoying being on staff in my new job. I love being part of a team again – missed that when I was freelancing.

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