3 things freelancers should just let go

Jul 1, 2015

Freelancers tend to have a lot of projects going on at any given time – and that means our minds are always at work. With all of that frenetic mental motion, it’s a relief to NOT ruminate about certain things – here are 3 common energy-drains that every freelancer can afford to stop thinking about:

1. Worrying about what people think of your career

Listen, your mom might not know what “freelancing” means. Your uncle might muse aloud about when you’re going to get a real job. And, you may, occasionally, feel a bit judged when discussing your work at stiff-necked parties (helpful hint: stop going to stiff-necked parties).

The good news? Other people’s perceptions of what freelancing is (or isn’t) doesn’t generally affect your day-to-day life – unless you let it get to you.

If you’re happy freelancing, don’t let anyone take that away; misery is not a necessary prerequisite for adulthood, and you don’t need a “traditional” job in order to pass some invisible Respectability Threshold.

Life is short – pursue what gives you joy, and don’t waste your precious energy fretting about what others think.

2. Comparing yourself to other freelancers

This is sometimes hard for every living, breathing one of us. Once you’ve established yourself as a freelancer, it’s difficult not to compare yourself to others in the same field.

But the truth is, there is no one certain path to success or “right way” to go. And since freelancing is so nebulous, it also tends to have a natural ebb-and-flow.

Sometimes you’re up (and attracting plenty of envy yourself), and sometimes you’re down (and nobody sees you struggle).

It’s easy, in this social media age, to exclusively measure other people’s successes; you never see the frantic effort behind the scenes. Try not to give in to these false comparisons.

Instead, take inspiration from others’ success. Try to learn from their methods, and be genuinely happy for them (it’s good karma) – spiritual generosity is good both for you and your career.

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3. The flawed concept of “certainty”

Fear of an uncertain future is the #1 reason people are too afraid to start freelancing in the first place – and a key element in keeping freelancers up at night.

It’s easy to start obsessing about what will happen in the future: what if your biggest client folds? What if you lose that major gig? What if you can’t find any clients after this one?... etc.

The truth, however, is that “certainty” is a myth. If the last fifteen years have taught us anything, it’s that conventionally “safe”, “stable” jobs are often anything but.

Go ahead and set goals; try your best to build a little financial cushion to get you through lean times, and keep building your skills.

But you will NEVER be certain of what will happen tomorrow, or a week from today, or in a few years… so don’t let the flawed promise of “stability” lure you away from what you most want to do!

What about you, fellow freelancers? What time-sucking obsessions have you given up – and how has it helped you? Tell us in our Work-Life Balance Hive.

Kate Hamill lives and works in New York City, where she consumes an inordinate amount of Sriracha daily. You can catch up with her on Twitter at @katerone.