It dawned on me a few days ago that today is eight years since I started my life as a skills trainer. On September 15th 2008, I registered my business. I was a guy with a PhD in maths, a few ideas about what I might do as a freelancer, but no real clue. This was me:
I left behind Room 524, my workspace for nearly four years. One day I was working surrounded by interesting people who loved research. The next day I was working alone at the dining room table: What to do? How to start? It seems like yesterday sometimes, and also like another life. A lot has happened in eight years (I got married! I have a daughter!). Work highlights include:
- working with 5000+ researchers, including over 2000 people in my Viva Survivor workshops;
- secured funding from the Vitae Innovate 2010 programme to develop a collaboration resource;
- creating the Viva Survivors Podcast;
- publishing two ebooks on viva prep: Fail Your Viva in January 2013, The Viva: Who? What? How? in May 2015;
- writing Self-Publishing For Academics with Helen Kara earlier this year;
- experimenting with a print run of Fail Your Viva in May and creating The Viva Prep Handbook in June.
I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of great people, and I know that I’ve learned a lot along the way. It’s not always easy to be a freelancer. There can be a lot of disappointments. But you can work to your values: it is very liberating to realise that you can step back from something that isn’t satisfying. You can say no to things that you think will get in the way, and say yes to things that excite you or you think can make a difference.
One of the things I like most is the freedom to do fun things, to play. You can do something “just because”. I have thoughts for more little experiments and “just because” ideas; let me know in the comments if you want to hear more.
Thanks for reading!