Often times we hear about how great it is working for ourselves, how much happier we’ll be, how much more time we’ll have to spend with friends and family or just how awesome it is not having to wake up early and spend all day having to answer to someone else.
While these things are all fine and dandy, we often forget that as humans we must deal with a wide range of emotions, circumstances and obstacles before we are able to live out our dreams. To some the thought of no longer having a “stable” paycheck or benefits can be quite a scary and debilitating thought that is usually followed by a flood of emotions and self doubt.
Freelancing isn’t for everyone, correction freelancing isn’t for the weak minded, those comfortable with the status quo. To be a freelancer one must possess a strong will and passion to succeed as well as the passion to help and encourage others.
Today we’ll be going over a few key areas where both those new to this arena of life as well as seasoned vets often fall into the pitfalls of negative emotions as well as ways in which these negative emotions can be both avoided and corrected.
We’ve all heard the saying “more money, more problems” but what about “not enough money and a mountain of problems”, the same holds true. Financial concerns can cripple the best ideas, the biggest companies and the brightest of minds. Sadly as freelancers we can’t work for free, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could all work on what makes us happy without the need to worry about money? If only the world worked in this fashion.
The thought of not enough money scares everyone, especially those who may have spouses or families to take care of, the thought of not having a “steady” paycheck can be frightening. Good news is, there are ways available in which we can lower or even eliminate this concern.
- Saving – Many people often overlook this vital part of life, saving. Having a safety net, or cushion as some call it, will help you both in the short term but also long term as well.
- Living within your means – Simply put, be smart about how you spend your money, ask yourself, do you really need that expensive new item, or is it just a want? Simple self checks like this could help save you quite a bit of money.
- Happy with little, happy with much – There is a saying I heard quite some time ago that said, “learn to be happy with little before you can be happy with much”,
Recently a mentor of mine pointed me in the direction of a financial planning course by the all too famous Dave Ramsey. I must say, this has been a truly inspirational and informative source for being more at ease with freelancing. I strongly recommend that everyone takes a look into his “Financial Peace University”.
A great point he makes throughout is, if you don’t tell your money what to do, it will vanish. Take a moment to think on this, where do you spend most of your money? Bills? Eating out? Not paying attention to these little details have ruined many a freelancers career.
This vital area is often overlooked in many instances, but being emotionally stable should rank on the same level of financial stability. All too often a freelancer ends up hating and ruining a successful freelancing career because of emotions carried over from their past career or a given situation. Each morning go somewhere quiet, take a deep breath and clear your mind, view what threw you off your game and what you could have done differently, then do differently today. This simple step can work wonders when trying to take a fresh approach to situations you may face daily.
Classic example, a project goes wrong, whether in your freelance career or within your corporate career. Instantly we feel down, like a failure, instantly a block goes up in our mind, limiting our potential for greatness, putting a damper on ability to keep going. Once in place this feeling is hard to shake, and sadly another great person is ruined.
Think back to when you last experienced a situation as the one above, where you put your heart and soul into something, only to see it ruined, think back to how you felt, and the months that followed. Do you see where you could have moved past the situation and gone on to accomplish something great? Think to the present, is there a project you’re having a hard time finishing, simply because it reminds you all too much of a past failed project?
One great book that I’ve come across in this area is entitled “From Lemons to Lemonade” goes into great detail about recognizing situations that put a damper on our self-esteem, as well as ways in which we can better adapt and respond to better keep our Zen.
If this is the only thing that you remember from this section, don’t focus on the negative, it will only hold you back!
Oh no, I have to talk to someone, get to know them, it will end in disaster. If this thought has ever gone through your mind, you may be surprised at how easy, and beneficial this vital area of freelancing is.
When I was younger, one of my uncle’s visiting from Jamaica said this to me. They (in reference to slimy lizards), are more afraid of you, than you are of them. Seth Godin, also mentions lizards in a similar fashion, this time in reference to a part of our brain that he entitled the “Lizard Brain”. Seth goes into detail within his book entitled “Linchpin” that the lizard brain is afraid of success, of risk, simply the lizard brain is afraid of stepping outside of the comfort zone.
Get off the couch, go out to a meet up event, get to know a fellow freelancer and share stories get to know them and become their friend. Relationships like these can go a long way in keeping you on the right track and on your way to successfully meeting your goals.
Imagine, you’ve finally gotten into your zone, then you hear that nifty alert sound you set for your messages, or a co-worker has a habit of constantly interrupting your train of thought, getting work done now just seems to be impossible. We all face situations like these on a day to day basis, however it is how we handle these situations that is most important.
How does one establish the work environment best for them? Let’s take a look below:
- A quiet place
For those working at home, it may get a little lonely in this setting, pairing up with someone in your similar field, may be the best route to take here. However for those of us who enjoy things being calm around us, soft music in the background also can help restore your in the zone moments.
Avoid having a TV around where you happen to be working, all too many times one can get suckered into something interesting that is on the screen, that always follows with the thought of “I can just take a quick break”, which more times than none is the biggest cause of procrastination.
One of the best places I’ve been able to keep focused and enjoy the balance of quiet and having people around, has been in a library. This often overlooked area can do wonders for your freelance career, but for those of us within an office setting, this next section is especially for you.
- Large headphones
Over the course of both my freelancing and in-house design career, I’ve come to fall in love with this awesome piece of technology as well as setting a few boundaries with clients and fellow co-workers. Having a set of large headphones helps block out distractions and helps with keeping focused, which directly helps you accomplish more of your daily tasks/goals. Set your playlist to be informative, inspirational and energetic. By having a mix of these elements, you’ll quickly begin to notice how much more enjoyable your day will be.
Even by having the perfect work environment, overworking yourself still can get in and ruin the situation. Take a break, you may notice that you get more work done if you work for 45 minutes, then take a quick 5 minute break to stretch and recapture your focus.
Remember freelancing is about having fun, while doing what you enjoy doing in life the most. It shouldn’t be a burden, but yet something you wake up each and every morning with excitement to fulfill.
Health ,Happiness, and Fitness
They say a healthy body, is a happy person. A saying that could never be truer. No matter how stable one is financially, or how perfect the work environment may be, an unhealthy body, can put the above success to waste.
Exercise daily. We often envision exercise as a daily trip to the gym, pushing ourselves till we collapse to gain the body of ultimate physic. If this thought has crossed your mind, stop thinking and take a deep breath. Now listen.
Follow the “Baby Steps” method to it. Start out by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or not parking the closest to the building each day. Little things such as the two previously mentioned will go a long way in getting you into a routine. Soon you’ll get the urge to incorporate more ways of doing exercise as you continue to see just how easy it is to do.
Eat Healthy. No I’m not talking about racing down to your grocer and stocking up on tofu, only eating vegetables for the rest of your life. However I am talking about making the choice to cook dinner (or learn to cook), pack a lunch or choosing to not get fast food as a so called “cheap” alternative.
Simply by taking a break in your busy routine and plan exactly what you want to eat. Tantalize your taste buds by collecting easy to make recipes that you can find online, or in your local grocery store in most cases. Try something new and stick to the plan of eating healthy, not only will you start saving money, but you will be well on your way to a healthier happier you.
Manage Your Time. I need more time in my days. Something many of us say or hear on multiple occasions throughout any given space of time. It’s not more time that is needed, but better management of it. As mentioned above in creating the perfect work environment, turn off the distractions, organize your tasks so deadlines don’t catch you off guard.
Stop checking your email constantly, as a matter of fact, turn off the glowing notification in your taskbar and only check your email at scheduled intervals during the day. This allows you to focus on your tasks at hand more effectively.
Take a Vacation. Once or twice a year, depending on your budget, plan and take a vacation. It doesn’t have to be far. Depending on where you live there are many places that can accomplish this goal for you. Take time to enjoy nature, disconnect from the constant need for technology. By doing this you have a better chance to focus on your goals and dreams, as well as develop plans for your future success.
Above all, keep in mind that life sometimes will do it’s best to take your eye off of your goals, but the only thing stopping that is you. Within each and every one of us, there is a burning desire to achieve something great. So do just that. Focus on what is important, and not on what gets you down.
I hope this article has helped you in some way, gain control over your current career, and if it has, share it with a friend or co-worker. I’d love to hear your experiences, and connect with you!
What are some ways you’ve improved your freelance career? What has been your biggest obstacle to overcome? What would you recommend to others in your field?
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