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A packet of crisps (and an en dash)

This week my business turns seven. It’s now officially the longest job I’ve ever had. Not bad for someone who spent years saying they could never be a freelancer!

Social media would like me to celebrate by writing about the seven things I learned this year. My top 10 tips for surviving freelance. Or by becoming a mentor and helping you smash a six-figure salary by only working every other Tuesday. Ssh, don’t tell anyone, but I’m actually still winging it!

So, instead of all that, I would rather celebrate with a bag of crisps and an en dash (–)...

While doom scrolling on social media a few weeks ago I heard someone read a poem and it really hit home. Go search for The Dash by Linda Ellis if you want to read the whole thing, but here’s the opener…

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.

He referred to the dates on his casket from beginning to the end.

He noted that first came the date of his birth, and spoke of the following date with tears,

But he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years. For that dash represents all the time that he spent alive on earth,

And now, only those who loved him know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars, the house, the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

It was a good year for my business. I gained some lovely new clients and worked on lots of crazy cool projects. It's a shame those pesky NDAs stop me from shouting about them! More importantly, I continued to work with all my favourites; many trusting me with their brands since the start of my freelance journey. So, in difficult economic times, I consider myself very lucky to have had a good year, but…

I didn’t take nearly enough days off. I worked too many weekends; and spent far too much time looking at a screen rather than the sky. For a while, I forgot to pause and enjoy the ride.

At the end of last year, I wrote a eulogy for a loved one. It’s the thing I’m most proud of for 2023. It was filled with anecdotes of a life well lived. Of arctic adventures, Vegas rollercoasters and the Northern Lights; of childhood misadventures and World Cup celebrations. Of dancing around the kitchen and finding true love. A whole life condensed into 20 minutes. Just two lines of that were about their working life. That was a dash well lived.

So, as I embark on my eighth year as a freelance designer, I shall be making sure I make more of that precious dash in between. Having a lenient boss helps! I’ll be switching on the out-of-office a little more often and taking a few more days off to recharge my creative batteries and have more adventures. 

How are you going to be spending your dash this year?


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