It’s been over a month now since I went back to work for my former employer as a part-time contractor. There were moments when it felt like time was passing super slow, but not so much anymore. I’m happy I made it past the one-month mark and am still looking forward to continuing. Four weeks is nothing compared to the grand scheme of things, but it’s been long enough for me to experience a good mix of pros and cons that I want to jot down.
When I left this company in early Q1 2015, I was focused on blazing a new trail and breaking free. I had no idea I’d be back working for them again in less than twelve months. It does sound a bit odd, silly even. Did I make a mistake? No, I still firmly believe I made the right decision to leave when I did. I’d classify me boomeranging back as an untemplate course of action though.
The Many Phases Of A Trampoline
It doesn’t feel like I failed going back, nor do I think my new situation is permanent. Rather, I feel like a trampoline has magically appeared at my feet; a springboard placed in my career path that I can leap from.
Trampolines are super exciting at first. Perhaps you can recall a time when you exclaimed, “Sweet a trampoline!” when you came across one on vacation, at an amusement park, or at a friend’s house. You start jumping around on it like a kid pumped up on a candy high, feeling goofy and carefree.
But then after a bit, your legs start to feel wobbly and tired. The initial excitement begins to lose a bit of its luster. Jumping around starts to feel more like a workout instead of play. The urge to get off, give your legs a rest and lay down increases by the minute.
The trampoline is a good analogy to the emotional state I’ve felt in the recent weeks. I was ecstatic at first when I negotiated a solid hourly rate, and walked back into the office. I felt giddy at first. So many people keep coming up to me and saying, “it’s so great to have you back!”
Some other things people have said that have stuck with me include , “I’m so glad you’re here and remember how to do xyz. I had no idea!” and surprisingly, “I really thought about quitting after you left because things just weren’t the same. So I’m super excited you’re back!” It is humbling to hear such kind words and hear that I’m helping people.
Do You Suffer From Brain Drain?
Although I initially I felt like I could last forever, I recognize this isn’t a permanent role and things will fade. The novelty has started to wear off a little and what I like to call brain drain has started to kick in. It’s amazing how much more tired I feel commuting and working there again. But, I don’t have any regrets and am actually glad I’m experiencing all of these things. They are a good reminder of my past and really help me re-appreciate the present.
I don’t want to forget what I’m learning and feeling throughout this experience so that’s why I want to share this journal entry with you. Writing about my career is therapeutic and I want to be able to reference my thoughts later. Perhaps you can learn from the insights of my journey as well or get some entertainment value out of it. 🙂
Freelancing For A Former Employer: Pros And Cons
Here’s are the highlights of my experience venturing further into the world of freelancing and my first month back working for my former employer. I’ll continue to log my experiences over the coming months.
I want to start with the cons because I want to end on a positive note. As far as the big picture goes, the pros definitely out weigh the cons.
Oh my back! It’s fascinating how our brains work in connection with our physical state. We all know that stress can impact our ability to focus and raise our blood pressure. Stress can also produce pain as a distraction! While I was working entirely from home, I felt great physically. So I was surprised how quickly my body started to experience physical aches and pains again working in an office environment for 8-9 hours a day.
My lower back started aching, my legs felt heavy and sore, my eyes felt dry, my eyelids started twitching again, and even my teeth started to ache from clenching my jaw. Sheesh, I sound like I aged 10 years in one month! lol Even though I don’t feel stressed, my subconscious is telling me otherwise. I’ve been reminding myself to acknowledge my brain is generating these pains as a distraction from underlying stress and anxiety. And that’s been helping.
If you’re feeling aches and pains, I strongly recommend reading several fantastic books by Dr. Sarno, Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection, and The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders.
Energy drain. Working full-time can be exhausting, even if you like what you do. There’s something about being on someone else’s clock that can really zap your energy. When I work from home, I start earlier in the day because I don’t have to commute, and I take breaks to clear my head when I feel my concentration is wearing out. Sometimes I take a 2-4 hour break in the middle of the day and then work into the evening. I get much more done this way and don’t get tired. But when you are on the clock at an employer’s office and can’t make your own hours, it consumes more energy.
Less time for other projects. I think one of the main reasons my subconscious is feeling anxiety stems from my frustration of having less time to work on other freelancing projects. The work I’m doing for my former employer is okay, but it’s not work that I really love to do. Since I’ve been more tired after going back, my stamina to work at home on other side gigs has gone way down. I’ve come home countless times and fallen asleep before 8pm with my hands resting on my laptop keyboard. It’s also been harder for me to wake up early.
Big brother. Since I’m being paid hourly, I feel like I have to be on my toes all the time. I don’t want my boss or anyone I’m working with to see me doing anything besides my projects when I’m at my desk. I feel much more exposed at the desk they placed me at versus my old spot too. I put a mirror under my monitor to help alert me if someone is approaching my desk, because several people scared the bejeezus out of me during the first few weeks when they came up from behind my chair while I had my headphones on. Being back also reminds me of big brother because this company has so many IT restrictions and monitoring protocols.
Free food. I’m a sucker for free food. So I was delighted to find out that my former employer started offering snack foods and fruit a couple times a week. They’ve also had a couple catered lunches and a bakeoff since I’ve been back. It’s been fabulous to be fed for free! There was also a ridiculous amount of food leftover after one of the lunches and since I volunteered to help with cleanup afterwards, I was able to take home enough food to feed my family for several days. Score!
Work events & holiday parties. I’m not a super social person, but work events and holiday parties are fun. I got to participate in events for Halloween, Thanksgiving and soon the holiday party. The food is usually really good and it’s entertaining to listen to funny stories told by happy-drunk coworkers. I started right at a good time of year to get a lot of events in a short time period.
Money love. Okay, I admit it. I love money! I’m not obsessed with it, nor do I love to spend a lot of it, but I really enjoy earning it. With property taxes, Black Friday deals, and Christmas shopping happening within a few weeks of each other, it’s nice to have some extra money. Now that I have to stay cognizant of how much I’m getting paid by the hour, I love thinking about how much I get to invoice for every day I show up to work. Paying estimated taxes isn’t fun, but getting to invoice for gross earnings is pretty darn sweet.
Weekends are much more exciting. There’s no better feeling than waking up and thinking it’s Monday and time to go work and then realizing it’s actually Saturday or Sunday. That happened to me last weekend and I was so excited I could stay in bed and relax. Working for my old company has helped me really enjoy the weekends more when I don’t have to commute and can do whatever I want the entire day.
Strike while the iron is hot. I’ve found myself saying this expression a lot lately. It feels good to squeeze out as much money from my old employer as I can while they are still willing and eager to pay me. I won’t have any regrets from taking this opportunity to make some extra money. I want to milk this cow for as long as I’m happy and enjoying myself.
Let go. Being back has helped me let go of old grudges, forget about the bad days I had in the past and focus on the present and the future. I stumbled across a fantastic quote from The Second Best Marigold Hotel that reads:
“There is no such thing as an ending… You have no idea now what you will become. Don’t try and control it. Let go. That’s when the fun starts. Because as I once had someone say, there’s no present like the time.”
Untemplaters, what are some of the pros and cons you’ve experienced working at your current or former employers? Do you suffer from brain drain? What’s the most amount of hours you think you could work a week combined (full-time job, part-time job, freelancing, side hustles, etc.)?
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