Portraits by Sian
I’m often asked for tips and advice on going freelance and regardless of the myriad questions I’m asked, the one thing I’ll always recommend is to plot in plenty of annual leave for yourself. As an example, every year that I’ve been freelance (bar this year!) I’ve taken all or most of December off. It’s an absolute luxury and decadence to be able to do so.
The reason? I firmly believe that you deserve to completely unwind and slow all the way down in the final month of the year. We’re all feeling, or beginning to feel, festive and there are so many social obligations at this time of year that it’s otherwise easy to hit burn out. One of the many reasons I chose to pursue a freelance lifestyle is that I’m an introvert through and through, and living a slower life predominantly in my own space is perfect for me. My happiness and productivity levels are through the roof when I’m left to my own devices! As such, I’ve been balancing the social calendar that comes with the Christmas period by booking in plenty of friend dates and outings throughout November and saving December for slower activities.
There’s so much pressure to celebrate Christmas in a particular way and show off just how festive and wintry your life is at this time of year. In fact so much so that it’s easy to lose sight of the holiday in hand. Whilst I’m not religious, I’m always sensitive to the fact that many of my friends are and that my readers are as well. It feels jarring to witter on and on about the consumerism side of the holiday, and as such it’s a great time for me to get a little introspective and consider how lucky I am and how I can give back. This year I’ve been contributing to a Reverse Advent Calendar for a local children’s hospice (super simple to do) and donating to Crisis UK to offer a homeless person a spot in a Christmas centre.
Along with charitable activities, I’m also keen to just relax. The last few months have been intense around here. My parents’ move has usurped all other aspects of our life, as have hospital appointments, general life admin and other important appointments. When I sat down mid-November to plan this month in my bullet journal, I kept social plans to a minimum.
A hot chocolate afternoon with Louise. Harvey and I’s Christmas date night. Looking after Harvey’s niece and nephew. Friend-mas! A festive manicure; self-care and all that. Decorating day! Dinner and drinks with one set of our couple friends.
Slowing all the way down in December always sets me up for a most enjoyable Christmas — the main priority here! — and, importantly, a carefree, calm and organised January. I like to put aside time to clear out my phone and MacBook files, give my home a good clean (and another when decorations come down), make all-important friend dates to see me through those pesky January blues, spend quality time with Harvey, and take time to list out what I’ve achieved and/or am grateful for from this year. I have a feeling my achievements list will be small this year (I feel like I’ve been coasting all year!), but even so, it’s nice to reflect and then bookend the year ready to start afresh.
And, because January 1st marks the start of a brand new decade, it feels even more special and of-note to slow down and embrace the final month of the year and decade. This decade has been so transformative and memorable for me: I’ve grown immeasurably and managed to make positive steps (leaps, even) towards the future I’ve always imagined for myself. I started it lost and floundering at Uni in 2010, and I’m ending it beyond happy and grateful… albeit still floundering.
Here’s to slowing all the way down, this month.