I have to admit that in my roughly half a dozen years of being a WAHM, there are things that have been hit and miss. I went into the home-based scenario without knowing everything, but at least now I can say that I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons, some of them which I want to share with you. I am by no means someone you will regard as a successful work-from-home career woman, but I would like to think that with my own experiences, failures, and little triumphs, I’ve come to know what works best for me and what doesn’t.
One of the biggest discoveries I’ve made in my WAHM journey is that attitude has a lot to do with everything. I’ve been reading and hearing some feedback from people wondering how to make more money, and when I suggest things like blogging and other stuff, they immediately go “Ah but I don’t know how to write” or “Oh, my English isn’t very good.” These are very tough to hear or read, and also admittedly a bit annoying. I mean, you haven’t even put your foot in the door yet, and you’re already quitting? How are you even going to start on something then?
With that being said, I would like to discuss the five attitudes I discovered I needed to develop in order to make the most out of my home-based setup.
1) I have to put in the work (no matter what)
So much about a home-based setup screams RELAX and CHILL. You can get a snack every time you like, take a breather whenever you feel like it, or put your feet up in the comfiest spot in the house while you take it easy because a boss isn’t breathing down your neck. This sounds ideal, but it’s an attitude that is very, very wrong for earning money. As I mentioned in this article about WAHM myths that need debunking, a work-from-home scenario often needs a more rigid and stricter schedule to adhere to, compared to one where you just log in and out of an office timesheet. In short, I have to hustle and I can’t slack off whenever I feel like it.
I have had some clients who required me to do a regular progress report, checking in on me even in the most inconvenient times. It’s my good fortune not to have clients like that all the time because it does get tiring and irritating, but at the end of the day, giving them what they need was part of what we agreed to, anyway. And I got paid because I put in the kind of work they expected of me.
2) I need to constantly be on my toes for self-improvement
Complacency is the enemy of any career! I keep telling myself that when things go smoothly - too smoothly! - for a long time, then something is very wrong. It means I am not learning something new, and that I’m not seeking to improve on things that need polishing, or making sure my skills aren’t becoming rusty or outdated. Because of this, my husband and I agreed on taking certain classes every year or so to improve ourselves, not just in our chosen careers, but also as a general overhaul of what we consider our skills, talents, and inclinations.
For instance, one of the things I keep neglecting to update is my curriculum vitae or professional resume. Aside from adding my more recent achievements and milestones, I forgot to prune past work that doesn’t have anything to do with my present trajectory. I also needed to erase information that the potential employer or client won’t be interested in, or else find odd. These include hobbies, personal “quotes” (ugh!), awards and merits that have nothing to do with my career, and other unnecessary tidbits.
3) I can’t fall back on old established work routines
This, perhaps, has been one of the most difficult bad habits for me to unlearn ever since I quit my office job and settled into a work-from-home routine. Back in my regular workplace, I had to rely on a sort of assembly line before I can perform the task I was designated, and it takes a schedule and timeline to get the entire project done. Because of this, if something goes wrong, it’s usually easy to pin the blame on someone else.
Now that I have embarked on a solo career where I am both the captain and the deckhand, I have no-one else to blame if something goes wrong. If I take on a client, all the responsibilities of getting the project done for the said client on time falls on me and me alone. Also, since the “specialized” work of every person in a team no longer exists when you’re flying solo as a WAHM, I have learned to think creatively in coming up with solutions, instead of relying and waiting on someone else to solve a problem for me.
4) I can’t quit at every little sign of trouble
When you’re on your own, it’s so easy sometimes to just throw in the towel. Trust me, it has happened to me at least a dozen times! But when I think of all the people I will inconvenience (my client, my family, etc.) if I give in to my inner whininess, I have to give myself a little shake and tell myself to keep on keeping on.
Once, I was so frustrated with the demands of a certain client that I was crying my eyes out to my husband, who told me to regard that situation as a learning experience rather than a reason to quit. Plus, the experience itself could serve as a good anecdotal icebreaker to future clients, who could surely see not just the humor of the situation, but also my determination to keep at it no matter what. Since then, I’ve learned to be much more discernible about clients, and who have reasonable demands over diva-like or impossible ones!
5) I can’t demand too much without gaining the necessary experience first
Perhaps one of the most fatal mistakes I first made as a WAHM was to overcharge a client when I still had to build a portfolio of works to back-up my talent fee. With the kind of payment I demanded, the client, of course, thought I was this very experienced professional who had all the tools and resources needed to accomplish an event that, frankly speaking, was something beyond my scope and capacity. I ended up passing on the project to someone with more experience and a more polished portfolio just to save the project and had to eat some major humble pie for months afterward.
These are just some of the major attitude changes I had to go through (and admittedly am still going through) in order to make my home-based work setup a successful one or at least one that won’t fail spectacularly. There are a lot more habits I feel that I need to unlearn, but acknowledging where change needs to be done is always a good first step.
Did you have to adjust your work attitude when you decided to work from home? What are the changes you made? Share your thoughts and experience below because I would love to learn from them too!