After leaving a job at a college in Minnesota, I’ve spent the past 16 months working as an independent contractor doing consulting, speaking engagements, webinars, and the like. It has been exhilarating, as long as that term equally applies to the highs and the lows that life sends our way.
Yep, lots of good things have happened. My network of educators around the country (and beyond) has really paid off as far as getting contracts from friends and from friends of friends. I’ve been able to do some really fun and fascinating work for a variety of clients. Much to my delight, I never was faced with the same project or task twice. Always something new, always more to learn, always the next challenge.
At the same time, it’s been a real roller coaster ride from a financial perspective. Overall, it was a definite reduction of the income with which we had grown accustomed. However, less income wasn’t the problem. Uncertainty about future income was a significant problem. I often talked about how I had a long list of “maybes” and how I needed a fair number of those maybes to turn into “yeses.” Sometimes a maybe turned into an actual contract for work to be done, but often times they didn’t. With three kids to put through college, the maybes really start to take a toll on you. “Maybe I’ll get that contract with XYZ College” quickly turns into “maybe I’ll be able to pay for my kids to go to college.”
When I told people about my adventure as a self-employed person working on the fringes of higher education, my standard line was something like this: “Being self-employed is a whole lot like being unemployed – just different paperwork.”
I’ve know for about the past year that I really wasn’t interested in trying to get another job at a college or university. I pretty much have a been-there, done-that feeling along those lines. 27 years working inside higher ed seems like enough, especially considering the uncertainty of those jobs going forward (I’m living proof of that). I was pretty sure that I wanted to always work in some way connected to higher ed, just not necessarily in the middle of it. That’s why the consulting gig was a good thing, but not perfect. That’s also why I think my next adventure will be totally awesome. I get to continue working in the education sector, I get to have a regular paycheck and other benefits, and I get to engage in totally new and exciting work with people that I genuinely like and admire.
Next week I’ll be ready to spill the beans about where this next chapter will be written and with whom. Until then, just know that this feels 100% right.
Thanks very much to my clients over the past 16 months; including Roane State CC, Minnesota State College – Southeast Technical, Broward College, MnSCU System Office, MnSCU 360 Program, Rowan-Cabarrus CC, TBR-ROCC, MCCVLC, all my webinar subscribers, and the many speaking engagements such as ELCC, Montana XLi, MODLA, WITC, SHOT, SC4, Gogebic CC, UW-Eau Claire, Davenport U, UW-Oshkosh, and many others.
Thanks very much to my mentors and references along the way: John, Kathy, Gary, Jowell, Myk, James, Lisa, and many more.
Thanks to my special colleagues, too numerous to mention, and too easy to leave some out. You know who you are (I hope!!).
This is starting to sound like an obit, which it most definitely is not. Just turning the page and moving on to the next chapter. Over the next month I’ll be wrapping up work on a couple of consulting projects and a few speaking engagements, and then I’ll be starting a new adventure. Next week I’ll be ready to tell you about that adventure.