• Jenny Stallard

Twixmas and New Year feels

Twixmas is a funny old time. The word always makes me think of Twix chocolate bars, which I don’t even like! Imagine if it was a celebration of a chocolate bar… but instead it’s more a case of eating up the old Celebrations, or Quality Street, and other chocolate and Christmas food. For many, it’s a time of slobbing out, letting the day roll by or hanging out with the kids, as they’ve got time off from work. Indeed, in the media in particular, offices shut down, so many can’t go in and work even if they wanted to.

For freelancers, though, there are no such restrictions. Many of us have a home office, so the Twixmas vegging out is shadowed by the desk, the computer, the to-do list or the whiteboard on the office wall. Going from bedroom to lounge or kitchen, I walk past ‘the office’ and it has called to me all through Twixmas.

The Christmas lights are still on, and everybody’s home. But we feel a kind of ‘should, better had’ do some work. And if not work, then admin of some kind. Or thinking about it, even. Not 100% switching off.


So, Twixmas dilemma number one for me has been whether or not to work. With no article deadlines to fulfil, work has included chasing up on a press release (seven out of offices boomed back at me on December 30th, showing that many are Twixmassing strongly), and trying to find some payslips for the accountant. And something else, of course; Freelance Feels. I never stop thinking about Freelance Feels, and this time has been quite useful to try and get some plans in place for 2020. What do I want to achieve? How do I want it to progress? It’s been nice to ponder on that and I actually had a coaching session on the 30th and focused on Freelance Feels and where I want to take it. (The session was with Mel Johnson, who runs The Stork and I – worth checking out for a unique take on solo motherhood).

It’s made me think that Twixmas is a fab time to work when you work for yourself. Because it doesn’t have to be client-focused, or pitch focused, it can be all about self-reflection, about planning for your business and its future.

Twixmas is strange because it’s enforced down time. If your office closes, or your clients are gone and you have no deadlines, there’s no immediate need to work. But it feels odd not to, somehow. Odd not to plan or do anything. Odd to just say ‘I shall watch another film, see another friend, pop into town or go for a walk’.

Perhaps it’s different with kids as those with kids need to entertain them and I get that. But for those of us without kids or dogs for enforced outside time, Twixmas can be an indoors affair – and that can lead to scrolling on social media, comparing ourselves, and wondering about the year gone by and the year ahead as we see others doing their ‘best nine’, or a list of their best work from the year. Because whether we like it or not, this time is one where we often think about the year ahead, plans and resolutions – and we’re encouraged to, left right and centre, by media, by influencers and those around us.

But… do we have to? Do we have to exercise, get dressed, even? Plan world domination just because the clocks have ticked ever onwards again? I went to a yoga class on the 30th, and feel that actually it was a better stretch for my mind than my body in many ways! I’ve been dog sitting and that’s meant going for walks which has been a fab way to make sure I get outside and get moving – body and mind!

Whether you’ve worked or not, though, there’s another Twixmas dilemma which I noticed when I reposted a post from my freelance colleague Heidi Scrimgeour. Do follow the account @Heidiscrim to see the whole quote and other inspiring words from Heidi! Wix won't link to insta for some reason, so I can't embed the tweet, so a little screen grab below - and you can see the whole thing via this link https://www.instagram.com/B6tHNTBlARt/

It was so simple, so obvious, really when you sat and thought about it - the response was instant.. like, like, like… and comments from people who said they related and loved it. Because I think we forget to give ourselves permission not to plan, plan, plan and worry, worry, worry. We live in an age of comparison – and when we’re not comparing to other people, we’re comparing ourselves against our actual selves. No wonder we’re all exhausted and anxious. The word heart in this post makes me feel like it's said with a sigh, as it sits alone at the end. Permitting us to breathe out and just SIGH if we want to.

Personally, I like to plan. I am keen to set goals and think about how the Freelance Feels platform will progress in the new year. I’m keen to do that, to make some lists and so on, before I go back to a two-month contract, which takes up my 9-5 for Jan and Feb.

But I didn’t realise so many people didn’t want to! It didn't occur to me that so many people felt this pressure to sum up the year gone by or the decade gone by and set goals and intentions for 2020. That so many people just wanted to ‘be’ and sit in Twixmas thinking not a lot at all about the new year and what it might bring. To be in the Twixmas moment.

I think I was so busy trying to make the most of the downtime, I’d made it ‘up time’ and these people saying ‘YES’ to not making plans was a bit of a reality check.

I didn’t have to plan EVERYTHING and make a plan about the whole year. Things can be organic, too.

The things I do want to focus on which came up in the coaching session include a newsletter for Freelance Feels (now in progress, to launch Jan 6th), and being more regular with blog posts, as well as a bit more considered with instagram posts and stories. I want to focus on those so I can bring better content to people who are following the platform and looking for inspiration.

But aside from that, perhaps it is time to be a bit more ‘Twixmas’. This time is a no man’s land of sorts – some are working, but even if they are in an office it’ll be an early home time today I’m sure. It’s coasting time for office people (I know, I’ve been that person!).

I can’t resist planning, but the reflection has got to me a bit. Lots of people were sharing their best stories of the year on twitter and to me it brought back lots of memories of the cool girls at school, strutting around with their shorter skirts and ties tied in a way I could never manage – all ‘I’m not showing off.. but…’.

Someone said to me it’s a great way to showcase your work and for editors to see people’s portfolios – so I did try it a bit but it still felt a little off, for me.

Perhaps that’s also a kick back to the fact that many editors ignore pitches! I’m not sure listing my articles on Twitter will change their behaviour overnight??!

What I did instead was set people a challenge; tell yourself, out loud if possible, how well you’ve done. I tried to encourage people to say five successes of the year, as if they were saying them to a friend.

It was a popular task – people got on board with the idea. For me, it was mainly ‘launched Freelance Feels!’ but I would tell a friend they’d had a fantastic year, not that they had to spend Twixmas planning even more – unless they truly wanted to.

I’d tell a friend they’d done loads, and that they could certainly afford to do quite little on New Year’s Day. ‘Er, you launched a PODCAST!’ I’d tell me, if I were my friend. ‘You’re doing great!’.

But to ourselves, we tend to begin to wonder if we’ve done enough.

So I shall load this, and then I shall be off until 2020. Yes of course I’ll be back to it from the 2nd, working at a magazine on shifts and also plotting Freelance Feels. But just for two more days, I’m going to be a bit more Twixmas.

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