Living the dream, or surfing the nightmare?

Learning about work and myself is amazing, but the money’s going to run out unless I do something drastic.

Today marks a month since I wrote the blog that created The Work Project. By rights I should have run out of money.

I’ve had a fantastic month and been busier than ever on amazing projects, with opportunities presenting themselves everywhere. I’ve been speaking, creating, connecting, writing and thinking. The problem is, it took me most of the month to figure out what I actually do and I haven’t made any commercial (or convertable) moves yet. I now need to work out a way to sustain a living from it all.

It’s probably best to work these things out prior to cutting the umbilical cord and heading out on a project like this.

I’ve learned so much though and that has a value. Admittedly, not a financial one, but I feel like something’s happening. Something really positive.

I’ve always known I’m an idealist and I’d also much rather be giving to others than asking or receiving. That creates a problem when you need to commercialise yourself using a model that is alien (or unacceptable) to many organisations. This is compounded further where what you’re offering is, even when correctly communicated, progressive to say the least and deliberately designed to challenge.

But I didn’t set out on this for an easy ride.

At this stage, I’m still confident that I’ll find ‘work’ now I know what I do. I’m confident in my ideas, theories and methods, even though I’ve developed them unconventionally (and mostly through my own costly mistakes!).

I’m confident that this will create value, which in turn will be recognised, but I’m also confident in the new, unforeseen possibilities this project is creating. I feel liberated that I can say anything and actually adopt a persona that’s been hiding since I was 19. I used to love standing out, being different, speaking out, but I lost confidence when I went to University, put the amazing shirts away and diluted myself to fit in, purely out of fear.

Self-repression is not a good thing.

The shirts are coming back out (there’s a post coming on shirts!) and for me the biggest learning of the project so far has been that I should have embraced the extremities of my personality far before the age of 34. I should never have let them go in the first place. In itself, that’s a major lesson on ‘work’ and the fact that it was (and largely still is) expected that to get on we should fit in, not stick our necks out.

In just over a week, I’m presenting a Pecha Kucha as part of WorkStock at the Workplace Trends event in London about a disengaged employee – I called him John, but John could easily have been Jane, he could be anyone – looking at exactly this topic. By not bringing our whole selves into the workplace, we lose out, as does our employer… and therefore the economy and the world at large! I’ll write a post on John once I’ve unleashed him on an unwitting public.

Another key lesson has been the difference between want and need. At home we’ve managed to control our money in a way that what was previously a month’s worth, will actually see us for additional few weeks. I’m not about to start eulogising about ‘make do and mend,’ but it says a lot about how we live in the Western World today.

For me though, this month has been about confidence. I have confidence that this will work, purely because I’m now in control of it, as me. It’s empowering to be 100% yourself for the first time in 15 years. It’s also fun!

By Andy Swann on October 4, 2014.
Exported from Medium on July 15, 2016.