One of my golden rules of freelancing is “Be the best boss/employer you’ve ever had.” Those of us who worked in the salaried world before going freelance are familiar with both sides of this coin: an employer can enhance your quality of life, and an employer can make your life a waking nightmare. As a solopreneur, you get to pick which of those employers you want to emulate.
Hopefully, you’ve had a good year work-wise. If you reached most of your freelance goals, it’s time to think about your end of year bonus, and I’ve got some ideas for you. Let’s focus on a bonus that will improve your quality of life. Such as:
- Redesign your office. Get the clutter out; paint it a color you love; get a new desk or workspace; buy some plants. This doesn’t have to be super expensive. Hit Craigslist or a thrift store! Depending on your budget, pay someone to do some or all of this for you. Or give yourself a day off from translating and do it yourself.
- Outsource your most-hated office task. Two years ago, I decided that I had categorically, undeniably had it with doing my payroll taxes myself. So my end of year bonus was to hire my accountant’s bookkeeper to do them for me. It’s not the sexiest gift ever, but in terms of quality of life improvements, it was a huge winner!
- Rent yourself an office. This was on my “I’ve had it with…” list a year ago. I seem to have “had it” with a lot of things lately, although I assure you I’m actually a very happy person! But I had officially had it with being home alone all day, with very little separation between work and home. Enter a desk at a co-working office, which has very tangibly changed my life for the better. Completely worth every cent of the $4,000 it cost me for the year.
- Give yourself a new hobby or skill. Having crossed two “had it” items off my list in the past two years, this year I focused on something totally different. I’m a lapsed piano and recorder player, and for a few years I’ve been searching for a new instrument to play. Our house is small so a loud instrument might cause family discord (scratch the trumpet, tuba, etc.) and we don’t have space for a large instrument (scratch the piano, harp, etc.). My daughter plays classical guitar and I’ve always really loved early music. A few months ago, we went to a lute concert sponsored by the guitar studio at the university where my daughter takes lessons and (call me weird…) the lute really enchanted me! Lute is a niche instrument and it took me a while to find a combination of a lute and a teacher, but I’m very excited about my 2013 end of year bonus. Here it is:
Side note: no, this lute is not broken! Until we saw this concert, I never knew that lutes have a 90-degree bend in the neck. Between the bend and the shape of the body (kind of like a watermelon cut in half), the case is not much smaller than a harp, but it’s certainly a beautiful instrument!
This also brings up a couple of tangential topics:
I would never have persevered with my lute ambitions were it not for a friend who I met in our local translators association. She’s a Dutch translator and avid early musician (recorder) who knew exactly where to point me in my search for a lute and a teacher. She also encouraged me that it was totally possible to learn a new instrument over 40. Yet another benefit of being active in your local association! Also, I find that after translating for a whole day, I love the work but I’m just so tired of words. I might listen to a podcast instead of reading, but sometimes it’s just too many words. Music is a totally different neurological activity, and even when I’m really tired of translating…or maybe especially when I’m really tired of translating, music really does the trick! If you feel the same, think about a completely word-free bonus for yourself, whether it’s something sporty, musical or artistic.
Other ideas for good end of year bonuses???