My aim: to do good work for nice people

In my mid-20’s, as a full-time agency Planner, I thought I had my career all figured out – next stops Senior Planner (check), Head of Planning (check), then onto the Board. That last jump never happened.

It turns out that it’s quite hard to juggle working 50 hours a week with caring responsibilities and also have any kind of a life. It’s quite hard to be Head of anything while trying to get on top of a chronic illness. And after my last two agencies respectively bullied me out and made me redundant, I figured that long-term senior freelancing had got to be a better bet.

I’ve done some sums and as a freelance I earn the same per hour as any Head of Planning outside London. But I have control of my diary and try to only work with nice people whose work I respect and company I enjoy, where I also have the opportunity to do good work. Being able to walk away from clients from hell at the end of a project is a nice bonus :)

There are some lovely agencies that I work regularly with (and who pay their invoices on time), that work around my personal commitments and make me feel like part of the team. And I’m not missing out on career development either – given the shortage of really experienced freelance Planners, I’ve been pulled onto lots of projects that I wasn’t a perfect fit for, but the agency helped me learn on the job and expand my skillset in the process.

I’m never going to turn up in a list of movers and shakers in Campaign, or pull on a posh frock for another awards ceremony, but I’m healthy, professionally fulfilled and my life is working for me.

But what winds me up are the tone-deaf posts on LinkedIn, from agency people, that seem to suggest that you’re just not trying hard enough and don’t deserve success unless you’re putting in 60 hours a week, going to every possible industry event and spending your spare time cramming in more professional qualifications. Perhaps, when their circumstances change, they too will have to have a rethink.

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