I’ve never had a full-time job, but I’ve learned five lessons about work | Women's Agenda

I’ve never had a full-time job, but I’ve learned five lessons about work

I’m 26 years old and I’ve never had a full-time job. I’ve been a stay-at-home mother for the past seven years, and I’ve never worked in an office environment or amongst a team for an extended period of time. This decision has been due to life’s circumstances, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

When I was in high school, my parents believed my sole focus should be on school. So I never had a part-time job at McDonald’s or anything like that – the afternoons after school were spent studying and relaxing. Eventually, I got into university. In that three month break between the end of my Year 12 TEE exams and the start of university, I decided to do something productive with my time. I got a part-time job at a bakery for several months and I learned how to work amongst a team. However, February rolled around and I was ready to begin my Psychology degree at university. I loved the university environment, particularly the fact that I was expected to fend for myself. It was the beginning of true independence.

I was fortunate to meet my husband in my first year of university and we settled down quite early. We both decided to put my career on hold while I stayed at home with our children. We have been married for almost six years now and have three children together – a three, five and seven year old.

Three years ago, I discovered that my love for psychology hadn’t faded as I started my career as a freelance writer.

Despite not knowing what it feels like to hold down a full-time job in an office, work alongside other employees, or deal with an onslaught of customers and clients – I’ve realised that this hasn’t set me back in terms of my work ethic.

Here are five things I’ve learned from freelance writing and working at home:

  1. Confidence is everything

    When I started my blog, I thought nobody was reading my blog. I was ready to shut it down. I lacked confidence in my ability to write. I struggled with calling myself a ‘writer’. As my confidence grew, so did my level of success. If you want others to believe in your message, you have to believe in it too. If you’re passionate about what you do, it doesn’t matter where you are on the ladder – as long as you’re climbing it.

  2. Success doesn’t happen in a straight line

    I have written for major publications, then been rejected multiple times after that. I have started all the way from the bottom and worked myself up. Sometimes my hard work feels like it’s paying off, other times it doesn’t. Rather than beat ourselves up, we should acknowledge that these mountains are part of the learning process. If our goals don’t work out as planned, we can still get back up and try again. 

  3. You will have to make sacrifices, but they will be worth it

    Sometimes in order to get what you really want in life, you have to take risks, have the courage to step outside your comfort zone, and make sacrifices by re-evaluating what’s really important to you. I have breastfed my youngest daughter up to six times a night and written with the other hand. As crazy as it may sound, I have gone to great lengths to get where I am today and it has been absolutely worth it. All my hard work has paid off. It’s what you do day in, day out, that will contribute to your success in the end.

  4. Success is a two-way street

    I’ve learned that helping others isn’t just about them or about you – it’s about feeling good when you do it. That means everything from commenting on other blogs, to sharing people’s articles, and praising others for their work. Rather than consuming myself with envy at the success of others, I’ve realised that you can learn a lot from those above you. Let go of your ego and give yourself the opportunity reach your personal best.

  5. Work hard, play hard

    Just because I work from home, doesn’t mean I don’t schedule in time to work and time to relax. My days are run with to-do-lists, schedules and routines. By giving myself structure, I remain focused and stay on track. By telling myself, “If I complete this article today, I can relax and read tonight,” sets an incentive much like bosses in an office environment do with bonuses. I spend every Sunday night relaxing in bed with my husband – I refuse to write on that night. I try my best to set aside time each day for myself. I try my best to set aside weekends for spending time with my family. This is the most important lesson of all, because as happy as my writing makes me, my life is my family. 

I know it’s a bit unusual that I’m a 26 year old who’s never had a full-time job aside from being a mother. But at the same time, I’ve gained a multitude of skills by being at home with my children and following my true passion as a writer. 

It’s not always a matter of how you’ve learned a lesson, but your willingness to apply that lesson in your day-to-day life.

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