New experiences are hard.  

Transitions are hard.

Probably the hardest transition I experienced was the transition from being a student to not being a student anymore.

After elementary school, middle school, high school, undergraduate school, and graduate school, I had spent the majority of my life in school.  Even though each stage was slightly different, I was very comfortable with how to be in school.  Teachers set deadlines on assignments.  Recitals came with a series of deadlines.  Grades and other feedback that let you know how you were doing – whether your work was up to par or not, and how to improve it.  And then at the end, they give you a piece of paper and say “congratulations, you’re ready to go get a job!”

For some career paths, that’s fine.  Some people transition into a job that works similarly to school – deadlines are set externally and you just have to complete the steps to meet the deadline.  You have regular employee evaluations that may or may not translate into pay increases.  But the path of the freelancer is not so.  

As a freelancer, you must take so much more responsibility and initiative to give yourself deadlines and to drum up business for yourself.  Networking is key.  Not easy if you’re introverted (or at least on the line between introverted and extroverted like I am).

And yet, it can be done. Probably the hardest thing I had to do in the transition to adulting was learning to set goals for myself.  Once you have goals, you can break them down into action steps, and then the skills you honed in school can pay off for you.  You can look back on those goals and evaluate if you are on the appropriate path towards them and adjust accordingly. Luckily for me, as a musician, I had a great deal of discipline to draw on as well.  And I coupled myself with a man who is addicted to routine; his self-discipline helps me maintain mine.

In the end, my best advice for adulting comes back to scheduling everything.  If you haven’t read my post about scheduling everything, go check it out!