At the end of last year, I decided to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, and make a big change. I went from working the same full-time, at-home job as a magazine editor for 11 years, to taking a part-time job as a content manager and ramping up my freelance work. It’s been scary and at times stressful, but I think the change is finally starting to pay off. Not because I’m suddenly rich, but because, today, I went for my first-mid-week hike in ages.
You see, I had this idea that I would block out certain times of day during which I’d tackle different projects. From 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. I’d content manage. From 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. I’d write emails for one freelance client. From 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. I’d proofread reports for another. But the best laid plans, right?
Instead, I felt myself lurching back and forth between tasks. This person was pinging me on Slack with a last minute request. Meanwhile, this person wanted to schedule a call. Over here, this person was wondering if I had time to rewrite this post. I was a pinball being bounced back and forth between the funhouse flippers of any number of clients.
In my old job, I set the deadlines. I enforced the deadlines. And frankly, I was the only one who knew if they weren’t met, most of the time. And I’d been doing that job forever. It was second-nature and hardly took up any brain space. Now I’m learning a new job that should, theorhetically, take up less time, while trying to manage the demands of clients. it has not always gone smoothly, and certainly hasn’t felt like less work. I’ve spent quite a few stressed out moments wondering if I’d made a huge mistake.
But this week, things are finally calming down. With one client’s big event over, and another in a lull, I’ve had the chance to catch up on some deadlines. And this morning, with just one project deadline looming ahead of me, I thought, today would be a good day for a hike.
Don’t get me wrong, I walk almost every day. The dogs and I go up our long dirt road and back again. Yesterday, we got wild and did a slightly longer loop. But today, with not much on my agenda, I decided to pile the mutts into the car and drive to a nearby state park for a little bit of forest bathing before the snow started. (Can you “bathe” in the forest when you’re bundled up in a parka and hat?)
Together, the dogs and I picked our way over the boulders that characterize so much of the New England woods and out to the lake shore I spent many summer days on as a child. They were nearly manic with the excitement of the new smells, and I was glad for a change of scenery as well.
This was the kind of day I’d envisioned when I decided to change jobs. One where I could go for a hike, come home to do some writing that I wanted to do, rather than the writing and editing I often have to do, and then maybe cook something halfway decent for dinner. It’s simple, but it’s the life I want to lead, and for the first time I can see it coming together.
Sure, I’ll have times when deadlines converge and I find myself plugging away at something at 7 o’clock at night. But those nights will be followed by days like this, when I can type up a post about the joys of getting to take your dogs for a hike on a Tuesday morning, while watching the snow cover the pond outside, and drinking an cup of tea.