Keep yourself on track when you’re a freelancer or self-employed
It’s not easy to keep yourself motivated 100 percent of the time. If it were then perhaps everyone on this Earth would be tapping into the full potential of their brains at all times. Unless you have an addiction to ADHD pills, chances are you lack focus from time-to-time. When your focus goes, so does your motivation and your creative drive. At least that reigns true for me. Keeping yourself on track can therefore be quite the challenge.
Keeping yourself motivated and on track is exhausting. Society today pressurises us to think too many steps ahead in our life journey’s. We’re an exhausted generation suffering from anxiety and insurmountable levels of stress. Between low paid jobs, student debt, housing crisis and working until you’re now 80 years old, we don’t have it easy.
Is it any wonder that we’re struggling to hold things together and keep our dreams and careers on track?
If you’re anything like me, most days I’m held together with tape and glue. I’m sleep deprived, permanently in a state of anxiety and questioning what I’m doing with my life and career. However, there are a few simple adjustments that I’ve made recently to sift through the fog to find some sense of clarity and direction.
Find yourself a buddy
When I say buddy, I don’t just mean a friend to sit around and eat cake with. Though those sorts of friends are highly recommended. Find yourself a buddy who draws out all the things you want to achieve. The other week Mackenzie and I were sat in the office swirling around in our chairs – procrastination in its highest form – and decided we needed to put our plans into action. Mackenzie is a hardcore list maker. She cracked out the paper and her pastel green highlighter (her latest addition to her stationary collection that she swears by) and we got to setting ourself targets.
These targets don’t need to be future proof. They certainly don’t need to be big or particularly aspirational. They do however need to be SMART. What do I mean by SMART? Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. It’s a coaching tool that is geared towards setting and achieving goals.
For example, a target of mine is to have the new District23 up and running by the end of April. That means the website is finished, the rebrand all signed off, new products are in the shop and there’s a backlog of press releases and social media posts ready and waiting for the lull days. To me this is attainable as it’s been in the works for the last couple of months. I’m at the stage of this goal now where it’s all about the finishing touches. But having it written down on paper as something to achieve keeps me on track to hit the goal.
Having a buddy to check in with regularly can really spur you on to hit your targets. Like I said, they don’t need to be huge goals. They just need to be realistic. Over time you’ll find the goal posts shift and you’ll see just how much progress you’ve made.
This I cannot stress enough. If you’re constantly working on your career then you’ll hit burnout. You need to make time for yourself to reap the rewards.
Take an hour out of your day in the evening to do something just for you. It could be to hit the gym, read a book, play that instrument you haven’t picked up in years. The point is that this dedicated hour to yourself is yours to do something with. Gradually that hour might become two or more.
A big part of self-love for me has been seeing a chiropractor for ongoing back, neck and shoulder pain. As an avid fitness buff, my body has had it’s fair share of damage. There’s scar tissue on top of scar tissue and a body that is working double-time overcompensating for the areas that are off kilter. After five weeks of treatment the majority of my physical symptoms have lessened. But my body is now working harder to adjust to its new nervous system. Now more than ever it’s important to take time for myself to heal and recover. You wouldn’t think having your back cracked twice a week would be so exhausting, but it is.
I know that I needed to get these problems fixed. It was self-love that made me realise enough is enough and it’s self-love that continues to drive me on my road to recovery.
If you’re physically out of sync then mentally you’re going to struggle to. Both things are connected and intertwined and you need to take care of both your physical health and mental health.
I’m not perfect at self-love. More often than not I’m at burnout stage but I do recognise the symptoms and when it’s time to take my foot off the pedal to keep myself on track in my career in the long term.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
We don’t have to have it together all the time. In fact, I don’t know anyone who does. By surrendering to failure you’ll find yourself in a much happier place. Because failure is a huge part of life and careers. All of which is normal and 100 percent okay. Anyone who tells you otherwise is not someone you need in your life.
People might think that surrendering to failure is weakness. You might even be asking yourself, how does surrendering keep me on track? Well, it makes you live in the present. It gives you perspective.
Surrendering to failure and disappointment takes away societal pressure and allows you to be true to yourself and what you really want to achieve in both career and life. Just because society says you should be married with 2.5 kids, a four bedroomed house you can’t afford and be earning 60 grand a year, doesn’t mean it’s realistic or achievable. If you accept the reality that you may not achieve such “goals” then you can move past what’s expected of you by others, and focus on what you expect from yourself.
At the end of the day, this is your life and your career. Only you can keep you on track. What works for me may not work for you. All these things can be applied to more than just freelancing and self-employed lifestyles. But more often than not the freelance community can be quite lonely and it’s harder to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you’re feeling lost. Just know that you are not alone. Freelancers may be anti-social workaholics, but we all need support in some form or another.