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On progress

movement forwards or towards achieving something

to become better; to develop (well)


It has been two years since I (soft) launched my business. 

In 2020, having finally paid off my loan and facing what seemed to be a changing, precarious work culture, I found myself thinking about progress. I knew I wanted to move on from my job at some point to something that fit me better, and where I could keep growing. But I wasn't optimistic about opportunities. At that time, I'd also been avidly listening to podcasts, and I seemed to attract those about living a different way of life – slower, more fulfilling, and not necessarily adhering to conventional work milestones. 

It was then that I started – very hesitantly, but increasingly more and more – thinking about working for myself. This was distinct from freelancing, which I'd tried before; rather than pitching articles to publications, or being on a regular contract, I'd offer services and packages with rates and time frames that I set. The idea was terrifying and liberating, and I spent months (alongside my full-time job) thinking about the services I wanted to offer; doing courses about business, pricing and marketing; creating programmes and running trials with friends; building a new website and writing content for it; coming up with a marketing plan; creating processes for maximum efficiency; figuring out finances, taxes, logistics; discussing and seeking advice and feedback. In June 2021, just before I got my first COVID vaccination that left me ill and one-armed for a few days, I was (sort of) ready to share my new "job" with the world. 

It has not been an easy journey.

To be honest, I wasn't sure if I was "all in". I wanted to try it out for six months and then re-evaluate. After a couple of weeks, during which I marketed and networked and wondered what I'd do if there was absolutely no interest, things started looking up. Then I got four projects in quick succession, and even hit my financial targets. Beginners' luck, perhaps; things would be up and down from there for the next quarter, with some big projects not quite working out due to differences, some personal challenges, some more projects and connections, lots of new content and marketing, and some "white space" thinking that helped me fine-tune what I wanted to focus on. 

By the end of the first six months, I'd decided to focus broadly on arts and culture (rather than "anything"), rethink and overhaul my mentoring service, and apply for relevant remote jobs to help support me while I found my footing. I listed my work on new platforms, and sent out feelers for family history work – something I'd been pursuing for years as a hobby but wondered if it could be more. It was also becoming amply clear that writing and editing was an over-saturated space, especially competitive and sometimes demeaning for those of us not based in the "Western" world (my target client base); and that it would benefit me to work on building new skills and expertise if I wanted to secure my future. 

Though I was slightly discouraged, this was progress; to evaluate what's working, what isn't, what needs to be changed, what needs to be learnt, what needs to give. I took some risks. I tried some things that didn't work at all. Eventually I learnt to shake them off and move on. To focus more on what was working, but to keep trying new things too. 

A decade after completing my Master's degree, one of my main goals for 2022 was to invest money in learning and furthering my education alongside work and other commitments. Learning is an important aspect of my life and I take courses all the time; but now I actually set a budget and decided to seriously pursue certain threads – based on interest, of course (don't shake your head). 

I also updated all my services, re-thought my marketing strategy, got some wonderful and far more relevant projects from interesting and respectful clients, including a dream family history book project (yes, that not-so-random feeler actually worked). I started learning a new language and delving deeper into skills I already have so that I could build on them. I realised that progress is also when complete strangers across the world find you and trust you with their money, business and their passion projects.

I'm not where I wanted to be financially, I'll be honest about that. I also realised that I've spent the better part of these two years only focusing on that marker of progress, and often feeling like crap about it. So lately I've been thinking about different milestones and markers, such as:

  • getting my first four clients in quick succession in a space of two weeks 
  • rejecting some big projects because I wasn't convinced they'd be worth it (knowing my value has been progress)
  • re-evaluating and niche-ing after six months leading to better, more relevant clients
  • adding my interests to my business services and having them pay off
  • getting my dream project within the first year (nine months to be exact)
  • completing 40 projects for 17 clients in 8 countries
  • completing 7 courses with leading institutes in their field
  • being part of not one but two beautiful communities
  • figuring out what I really want to do hopefully for the next many years 
  • receiving regular signs from the universe that confirm I'm on the right path!

A lot of people tell me how great it is that I follow my heart, and it is, but it's honestly not the easy way out. It's really, really hard. The lows are as deep as the highs are... well, high. The price of following my heart includes answering a lot of "why" questions, the long "hmm"s and reassuring nods when things aren't going well or people don't quite understand what I do, well-meaning suggestions, and an expectation that I'm available at any time in any place because I work for myself. And, well, sometimes it's worse. I also used to feel lost every time there was a slump, and a pressure to measure up to people's standards (and my own). We're part of a world that has a certain idea of progress, and I feel like I'm constantly falling short of it. 

While being aware that I'm lucky to have been able to attempt this at all, because certain securities are necessary to be able to take such risks, I did ensure that I was accountable for all my expenses. Yes, it was stressful, and I did dip into my savings; but I have not once missed my desk job, or the arduous commute, or even having co-workers or someone to report to. I value flexibility, I value boundaries (who decided it was okay to discuss work on WhatsApp?), and I value being able to work with people of my own choosing across borders and time zones. Even if I didn't have regular work, the things I've worked on have felt far more rewarding. I have zero regrets. As the great Mary Oliver said, "Things take the time they take." 

Sometime last year, I realised that I was more interested in creating new patterns for my career than just looking for my next job or my next project. My continuing education was part of that, but I also wanted a stronger sense of purpose and direction instead of this tossed-about-ness. I knew I wasn't my best self, and I was a bit tired of it. But I didn't want my impatience, or others', to rush me as I waded through ideas and plans and sometimes random thoughts as they slowly lead me to the path(s) I'd hopefully be walking for the next several years.

I wrote about finding purpose before; and I actually worked on it. It has never been easy for me to articulate my goals and dreams, even to myself, but I started acknowledging them. I made lists which are so long now. There's a lot that I want, but didn't fully realise it until I started writing it down.

In the last few months, I've learned so much about myself. I did some sessions with a lovely life coach, which were immensely helpful. I started to understand what it is that really makes me tick, and what I want from my life. And then I decided to stick up for it, and show up for it too. I niched further – into family history and genealogy work, which I'm also studying on the side. I started an Instagram account for my work and I've never had more to say, but I'm aware that this is a marathon, not a sprint. There will be time to get to it all, and then there will be more. I found people who care about the same things, and I felt less alone. I started collaborating on some cool new projects

And a beautiful thing happened – all of my varied interests and experiences that used to feel so scattered finally started coming together. I think this might be the alignment my coach spoke of.

I see it now. Progress is uncomfortable, and sometimes progress is slow. But I'm starting to learn how to recognise it, and honour it, and be grateful for it. I don't know how things will look in another year, but just yesterday, I had an epiphany – for the first time in a long, long time, I'm feeling connected, excited, and hopeful about my work. I'm finally starting to see the path that led me here, and glimmers of the one ahead. That's huge progress. 

I wonder if I'm going 'round the bend in the road.


  1. Wonderful post! I love how you've documented your struggles, growth, and accomplishments through what was clearly a very daunting prospect. It is never easy to chart a new path, and you have come a long way. And in sharing your experiences, others may find the hope and courage to do the same. Well done, and I hope you have many more successes ahead! :)

    - Rashmi

    1. Thanks, friend! Writing it all down like this certainly made a lot of things clearer for me. If it makes anyone feel less alone, I'll be happy.

  2. Love how you've articulated your journey so far, especially how you described what worked and what didn't. It takes courage and conviction to go from zero to one, and like you said 'progress is uncomfortable' and there is no set path or formula. Being on a similar quest I found your reflections relatable and inspiring! Cheers to getting around the bend soon! - Ria

  3. Beautiful post Kriti. Wish you the best :)


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