Sunday, November 18, 2007

Taking some time out

With the end of the year approaching many of the Bayard Associates (me included) have contracts that expire, so as usual there is a flurry of exercise surrounding considerations with regards to what will happen next year, what contracts are available and what are the best options?

When Associates join The Bayard Partnership, I always advise them to put aside some of their income into a savings account and to use it for taking time out at the end of each contract. Typically, Bayard contracts tend to run for at least 6-12 months. However many of the Bayard Associates have worked for their clients (albeit on different projects) for a number of years. However during the period running up to the end of a contract, the Bayard Associates, like nearly all the freelancers I know, start to worry and take their focus off their client’s problems and concentrate too much on their own future.

Following on from my article last week ‘Who is your Guru?’ I believe that it is essential to take some time out, to let your contract run until it finishes and only then start to look around. This gives you a natural break, letting you refresh your batteries and find new energy and insights.

When your bvba is earning more than 120,000Euro per year, you should be able to afford a couple of weeks off, unwinding, reading books and catching up on updating your life plan: ‘where am I going? Am I happy? What do I want?’ kind of questions. This exercise is easier said than done, but the benefits often result in you having a real choice of opportunities and quite often, even obtaining higher day rates than in the previous year, more than compensating for any revenue lost during your time out. Hopping from one pond into another without taking the time to think before you jump is at best opportunistic and at worst, simply foolish.

Luckily here in mainland Europe, in today’s interim market there is more than enough work for everyone, so we need not worry. In two to three weeks, no one will forget us. All we need to do is to focus on what we want, what we are good at, how can we grow and most important of all; how we can best serve our client and society in general?

2 comments:

Matthijs said...

Harley, I fully agree with you that taking some time off after an assignment in order to reflect and to catch up is essential. However, I would like to add to your list one simple question, that is: Who am I?

It’s very common for a company to spend time on formulating their vision as part of their overall business strategy. This vision refers to how the company would like to be viewed by the outside world in say five to ten years time. In order to get there the company embraces certain values and tries to create a culture by embedding these in the organisation.

A person should in my opinion do exactly the same. I will use the wording he, but the person could be equally a she. So as part of his personal strategy (what I can, what I want, how I want to best service and how I want to grow), he should define his vision as well. This vision is in fact how he wants to be remembered or in other words what the outside world will put on his grave stone. These are his values and the most important part of the answer to the question: Who am I? The other part refers to his convictions. In order to get there he embraces these values and embeds them in his daily acting. It’s very important for him to acknowledge them, because they will offer him a way out especially in stressful situations.

Andre said...

“Taking some time out” : exactly what I did the past two months and a half … Doing the things you mentioned Harley : unwinding, updating my life plan, but most of all : looking an assignment as an interim manager. This year is a special year for me : the birth of my second daughter in april and some months later the “quantum leap change” decision to start up my own business in the interim management market. I can tell you it was not always big fun(“This exercise is easier said than done”) … but now that I’ve took this decision .. I’m feeling real good !!! So I answered the questions on : where am I going ? (and my family), what do I want ? I can only advise people who are stuck for a while (private or business) to do the same … hereby I want to say thanks to my wife for the support and of course some friends and ex-colleagues (contractors included ;-)), cheers Andre