Feast or Famine? Downpour or Drought?

Photo by Brian Hursey

When you are self-employed, the phrase feast or famine is common place.

Since I have been self-employed longer than most people are employed, I have heard it a lot.

Along with feast and famine comes downpour or drought, nothing or almost too much.

For the employed, it may feel the same way — too many work projects, swimming in paperwork, or overwhelmed with details or e-mails.

And if you should go from employed to suddenly unemployed, especially if it is your first time being unemployed, it can really create that famine or drought feeling.

For some people, the current economy pushes them that way too. Christine Livingston, A Different Kind of Work, talked about that the other day in her post, The Purpose of Doom and Gloom. Her post made me think enough that I left a fairly long comment over there. Christine is in the UK and the recession that is still affecting the US economy is creating headlines there too.

As I said over there, I don’t listen to the news much. I try not to focus on the things I can’t control. All I can do is do the best I can for the clients I have and keep moving forward, learning, growing, and connecting.

“Keep it positive”

Overly simplistic advice but whining or complaining in public rarely helps. I vent to a few chosen people when my load gets too heavy but I had feast and famine and downpours and droughts when we were in the best possible economy so I am used to the challenges.

What helps me most during those famine times is knowing that other people in the industry are feeling the same way and other people in general are feeling the same way. In the feast times, I try very hard to plan ahead and know that I need to set up reserves to conquer the famine moments. It is never easy to keep an eye on when thing can change, but if you do

What about you? What do you do in famine or drought times? And how do you handle the feasts and downpours?


  1. Donna Svei on July 7, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Hi Julie,

    The financial reserves that you mention are critical. Business follows cycles, the feast and famine that you describe.

    In addition, we now have to prepare ourselves for disruptive technologies that might eliminate our means of producing income. We need financial reserves in case we have to retool.

    That’s life in the 21st Century!



    • Julie Walraven on July 7, 2010 at 3:59 pm

      True enough, Donna. I am curious as to specific disruptive technologies you are thinking about but totally agree we need to build financial reserves not only in case we need to retool but also to fund projects that might have been stalled due to the economy.

  2. Barb Poole on July 7, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    So true, Julie! Though varying in nature and volume, we all face feast and famine; life never dishes out a leveled-off measurement that we want (or think we want). I also believe that the downtimes, the struggles truly do make us stronger. We learn from mistakes; we learn what’s important. And a key to coping, in my humble opinion–whether career or other life challenges, is persistence and perseverance! Thanks for a very insightful post!
    .-= Barb Poole´s last undefined ..If you register your site for free at =-.

    • Julie Walraven on July 7, 2010 at 4:12 pm

      Thanks, Barb! Yes, unfortunately I seem to find myself persisting and persevering a lot lately! 🙂 Life goes on.

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