May to September is always a crazy time for me. There is so much scything, traveling, and general ‘doing’ to be done that I almost always lose track of my ongoing projects. So the next few posts are going to be a catch-up of where I am with my various diploma projects – mostly for my own benefit. I’ve also been doing my diploma for approximately a year, so it’s probably time for a general look at how I am getting on. I’ve decided to do this by using the four questions. These are (lest we forget):
– What’s going well?
– What’s challenging?
– What’s the vision?
– Next steps?
Project one: Action Learning Pathway
I wrote my action learning pathway last year, right at the beginning of my diploma. I am still extremely pleased with the projects that I chose. I think they’re exactly the ones that I should be doing, the ones that I would be doing anyway. So, the content of my ALP is great, but what I am finding challenging is presenting my ALP in a way that I find useful. When I first started I copied Hedvig’s ALP from her first diploma, but now I know a bit more about what I am doing, I want something that’s designed with my own projects and aims in mind. I want to present it as a pathway – i.e. ‘here’s the next step you have to take, and the next, and the next’ and I have been experimenting with ways of doing that but haven’t quite got it right yet.
Next step: Keep experimenting until I find an ALP form that I am happy with, then write it up and submit it for interim assessment.
Project two: Time and Money
This project is all about managing the development of my income streams. When I first wrote up this design, I said that these income streams would be: teaching scything, teaching permaculture, writing articles, writing books and coppicing. A year on, I am still happy with that plan, although some are further on than others, some of the plans have changed and I have had quite a few other ideas too…
I realised quickly that pursuing all of these projects at the same time would not allow me to give enough time to any of them, so I decided to focus on two – writing articles (journalism) and teaching scything. I chose journalism because I recognised that it holds the greatest opportunities for actually making some money – a big focus for me at the moment, and I chose scythe teaching because I realised that I needed to learn a whole lot of business skills and if I could make scything work, I could make anything work. I am treating it a little like a task in The Apprentice, but without the rudeness and recriminations if I get something wrong.
A year on, I’ve got a much better idea of the viability of these income streams and have adjusted my focus accordingly (for example focusing on journalism – with its greater earning capacity). I’ve also decided that I do not see myself coppicing for money, but that I would like to make the firewood and building materials a big part of my household economy – working for resources, rather than the money to buy the resources.
Time-wise, everything is going to plan. I’m spending enough time on each of my projects because I really enjoy them and I take them seriously. Money-wise is a bit of a different issue. Frankly, money has always been my issue… I don’t mean that when I get it I piss it up the wall, I’m actually very frugal, I’ve just never seen the point in earning more than I really really need to survive. Hence why I am continuously on the breadline… However, the need for money is starting to make itself known (I’d like to buy a house, I’d like to pay for a pension, I’d like to have a reserve), so this is my focus right now. I don’t want to earn oodles of cash, just the average wage. But I want to do it entirely on my own terms.
My design included a set of financial targets which were frankly (mostly) wildly optimistic. Not only did I misjudge how much money I would make from various projects, I misjudged how much time they would take me. I got one approximately right – journalism – for which I set myself the target of earning £3000 this year which I probably won’t make but is at least achieveable should I pull my finger out. For scything though, I set myself the target of earning £5000, and teaching 20 courses – in the first real year of running it as a business. I failed pretty drastically at that. I think that target might be achieveable in a couple of years time, but not in the first year when I am trying to sort everything – pricing, marketing, etc etc out.
I don’t feel like I have failed with this project this year though, actually I feel like I have calibrated the system. I have a much better idea of how much time things will take me and how much money I can expect to earn from them. I’m progressing, and that feels really good.
Next steps: My next step is probably to set some more realistic goals for 2013. Just a word on goal-setting and motivation though… Having set myself these targets to meet, I then found myself completely uninterested in working hard in order to hit a number. I had to admit that even though I wanted to earn more money, I still wasn’t all that motivated by it. I thought about what did motivate me and it was learning things, meeting new and exciting people and passing on skills. I just decided to allow this to be my motivation and to have ‘making money’ as a background driver that would kick in if I felt that I was selling myself short. I also had another minor breakthrough recently (though it felt huge to me) which was that when I thought of money as numbers, my brain zoned out completely, but when I thought about it as a winter coat, or a set of life coaching sessions, it made a lot more sense, and motivated me to do something a lot more. Identifying something that I want and then finding a way to make enough money to get it is immensely powerful.