Freelancers are Redefining Success

Feb 4, 2014

There’s something happening. I’ve been hearing it from members for years, but it’s getting louder.

It’s freelancers changing the definition of “success.”

For freelancers, success isn’t about chasing the corner office. It’s about time, passion, and well-being.

I wrote about this change last week in Fast Company. More than 4,000 Facebook likes and 1,000 tweets later, it clearly resonated.

Independent workers are establishing a new way to work--and in the process, they’re cultivating a new way of life. Success in 2014 is less about wealth than it is about value--the value of time, community, and well-being.

As the availability of the traditional 40-hour-a-week job wanes, so does its appeal. Who wants to “clock-out” at the end of the day when you can dictate your own schedule?

Many freelancers rightly see the standard workweek as a prison of the past. Managing your own time isn’t just rewarding--it’s practical and efficient. Parents don’t have to “leave early” to pick up their kids. The idea of “killing time” until the clock strikes 5:00 becomes obsolete when that time is chiefly your own.

Time is a new currency, and successful freelancers manage, save, and spend it wisely.

And it’s not just the Fast Company piece.

Our Freelancers Pyramid of Self-Actualization was our first attempt to put onto paper the ideas we’ve been hearing from our members -- that the more “successful” you are as a freelancer, the more you count on and give back to your network and your community.

When we released our “What Type of Freelancer are You?” quiz, we expected a pretty even split across the five levels of the pyramid -- from “Unfree Freelancers” who are scrambling just to get by, to “360 Freelancers” who are deeply connected to their community and feel true balance.

Instead, we got a surprise.

More than a third of the 1,500 quiz takers (36%) were “360 Freelancers” -- four times as many as were “Unfree” (9%).

Now, this isn’t a scientific study by any means. But it does affirm what we’ve been hearing anecdotally for years. Freelancers are leading the way to a new, more balanced life.

What’s your definition of success? What do you need to get there? Let me know at @Sara_Horowitz.

Sara Horowitz

As the founder of Freelancers Union, Sara has been a voice for freelancers for over two decades.