Too many choices

Last week was an odd one, even for someone accustomed to odd weeks. I was offered no fewer than three separate jobs, totally by surprise. On top of that, three other companies offered to put me on a monthly retainer to be their on-call writer. This leaves me in a unique bind: Do I give up the nerve-wracking and up-and-down life of a freelancer to live the American dream — a steady paycheck, a retirement plan, full benefits, paid vacations, and a return to the despised rat race — or do I choose to sleep as long as I want and take the gamble that I’ll get enough freelance business to be rich?

This is really tough. My present inclination is to take one of the jobs, keep doing as much of the freelance stuff that I can on the side, and after six months, when I’ve got enough money to be a bit more independent, re-evaluate the situation and maybe go back to freelancing.

I really don’t know. So whatever the first commenter says, I’ll do. (Just kidding.) I guess it’s always better to have too many options as opposed to too few. I just hate having to make momentous decisions like this, and risk looking back in dread sometime in the future. I’ll keep you posted.

The Discussion: 14 Comments

I guess it’s always better to have too many options as opposed to too few.

I would argue that this suggests that you should take one of the jobs.

July 26, 2004 @ 1:57 pm | Comment

Plan C is to get out before the trouble starts.

Move to Tahiti and grow your own food. That’s my advice.

July 26, 2004 @ 5:43 pm | Comment

Is there any way you can scale what you do so you can take on all the work (maybe with employees) at the same time? Or is all this work100% dependent on your unique talents, so that nobody can help you on any of it?

July 26, 2004 @ 6:15 pm | Comment

Martey, I think that’s where I’m headed. Decision will be made most likely within 24 hours.

Harry, if I could give everything up and ship off to an exotic place, I would. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep….

Boo, I thought about that, and that my Option 2: working for all the companies on a retainer basis. But I’m leaning toward the day job, becaise it’s the only way I can be guaranteed a steady salary and freedom of worry.

Martey was the first commenter, so I have to do what she said. Back to the rat race.

July 26, 2004 @ 6:31 pm | Comment

It sounds to me like you know what you really want to do, but are just too afraid to do it. This is fair enough, I mean after all, a steady paycheck and everything else is nothing to sniff at. However, happiness and satisfaction in life are nothing to sniff at either.

Allow me to take the liberty of quoting you from several weeks ago:

I was going through this angst because I had to face the painful fact that I wasn’t happy anymore being a PR executive. I enjoy the creative side of the business — the writing and the media relations part. I hate the account part, the billing and the counting of hours and preparing monthly reports jammed full of BS to justify our jacked-up invoices….

and then regarding freelancing:

It was not an impossibility. It was not a pipedream. I can really do this. If I really go at it, creating a web site and marketing myself and networking, it could actually become a fulltime career. Is it possible? Can our career really be the thing we love?

So I say go for the freelancing. You’ll never know how it will work out if you don’t give it a good shot, and if you don’t give it a good shot, you’ll probably end up asking yourself “what if” for the rest of your life.

Yes, I know, you say in 6 months you’ll evaluate everything again, but what happens when in 6 months time you decide to give it another 6 months – because after all a steady paycheck is a comfortable thing… and then another 6 months, and then another 6 months, and then before you realise it, 6 months turns into the rest of your life.

If freelancing doesn’t work out, then surely the fact that you’ve received 3 unexpected job offers in the space of a week should be enough of an indication that you’ve got the talent required to find steady work again should you need it. But if it does work out, think of what that will mean to you.

So, gather up your courage, have confidence in your abilities, and take a big step out into the unknown. You’ll never look back.

July 26, 2004 @ 7:59 pm | Comment

imron, you have a great memory — thanks for reminding me of my own thoughts. It’s still up in the air, and I hear every word you say.

I took the freelance road and I surprised myself; the clients kept coming back, and I found new ones, too. It’s one of those clients now who is making me the offer to work in-house. There are some very specific reasons why I want to do it, but I’ll think about it carefully. (In particular, it’ll give me enough money to go back and visit some very special friends in China faster than I ever could doing odd jobs.)

Here’s the other important thing: This job offer is not for public relations. It is for writing, 100 percent. I’ll do what I like and what I know I do best, and I’ll wake up in the morning without dreading going to work. So it really will be a major shift from what I’ve done the past (gulp) 14 years.

I really appreciate you going back and reminding me of my earlier post; sometimes when you write a blog like this every day you get stuck in the trees in front of you and forget about the forest. Thanks.

July 26, 2004 @ 8:13 pm | Comment

For the record (and since it is not obvious by my name), I am male.

Regardless of what you decide to do, Richard, I am sure that all of your commenters will support you.

July 26, 2004 @ 10:31 pm | Comment

I say make your own consulting firm and take on all the jobs only as projects that allow inhouse employment. that way you get paid more and you can get out when you need to.

funny, just after reading your post I got a call to work on a book in hong kong.

it comes in waves, man.

July 27, 2004 @ 12:27 am | Comment

We can all give you advice on this Richard but usually deep down you know the answer to these questions before you even ask them.

Whatever you choose I’m sure you’ll do well.

July 27, 2004 @ 12:38 am | Comment

Richard, wish I could have your ‘difficult’ choice – nice to be wanted.

Only 1 advice – don’t take anything in Taiwan – PRC will be invading her – heh! heh! heh!

Good luck, mate!

July 27, 2004 @ 5:06 am | Comment


I agree with Simon, and your heart; you know the answer. You have written it just above: “This job offer is not for public relations. It is for writing, 100 percent. I’ll do what I like and what I know I do best, and I’ll wake up in the morning without dreading going to work.”

What more can a wordsmith ask for?

I also agree with Simon in the confidence that whatever you do you will do it with style and integrity.


July 27, 2004 @ 6:47 am | Comment

“Do what you love and the money will follow”

That said, and having been there (and elsewhere), there’s a lot to be said for a steady job with insurance and retirement plan.

It does come in waves. Sounds like you’re on a track to achieve a combination of security and creative opportunity.

July 27, 2004 @ 7:58 am | Comment

I don’t know what your financial situation is, but if you’re in any sort of debt, I’d advise you to go for the steady paycheck and keep at it till it’s paid off. Or at least everything but your mortgage.

July 27, 2004 @ 10:38 am | Comment

I can’t thank all of you enough (and Martey, sorry for mistaking your gender!). The company called today and they want me to come in and “meet the team” before extending the formal offer. So I’m quite excited. My operation in Bangkok last year devastated my savings (with therapy and post-operation doctor visits it cost me more than $8,000, all out of my own pocket) so this is the way for me to get back on my feet, pay my debts, and get some peace of mind, all while doing the kind of work I love. Then, in six months or so I can consider setting up my own shop. I already spoke with the firms I’m freelancing for, and they agreed to keep giving me work I can do on the weekends. I think at this point in my life, it’s the smartest thing to do.

July 27, 2004 @ 11:35 am | Comment

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