The freelance economy is radically redefining the “traditional” career path for many of us. Whether it’s as an Uber driver, someone who picks up odd jobs on Jobber, as consultants, marketers, writers, photographers, graphic designers, web experts, bloggers, marketing gurus, sole business proprietors or other types of entrepreneurs, freelancing is a way of life that creates meaning and fulfillment for many people.
People come into the freelance world for many reasons, perhaps wanting to spend more time at home with young children, or to take care of an elderly relative, or simply just because we can’t imagine working at a 9-5 day job. Whatever the reason, the advantages are many.
Freelancers and entrepreneurs have control over our own schedules, have the ability to manage the creative flow at our own pace, are able to be more in sync with our natural rhythms, and we also need not answer to anyone else. For many people, entering the freelance world is the fulfillment of a dream. We are now the sole creators of our destiny, and it feels great!
However, like most career choices, there are upsides and downsides. A variable income stream is perhaps one that first springs to mind, but one of the largest – and one that is often not addressed, even to ourselves.
Tremendous isolation can result from working for yourself. Without others around during the day to bounce ideas off of, or simply to commiserate with and share that vital social energy with, we may find ourselves yearning for more connection to others in our work. Facebook and the web can’t replace the feeling of being around supportive and caring individuals.
We might feel, too, as if no one else understands exactly what we are doing or going through. Even with a supportive spouse or partner, very few other people in our lives want to hear about our creative struggle with each individual creation, work, or new client, and this is slightly different from a team environment, where each win is celebrated together.
Another downside is the pressure to succeed in our chosen endeavor. For many freelancers, all of the responsibility to succeed is on you. Every marketing idea, every new pitch, new client, is (usually) driven by you, and this can feel like a tremendous amount of pressure.
Especially if there are others who depend upon us, creating a sustainable income stream, while still holding onto our creative visions, can seem like an uphill battle.
But we can find ways to relieve some of the pressure, and also to connect with others in a meaningful way.
Help for Freelancers
Letting Go Of The Outcome
One mental process that has a tradition in all of the great religions of the world is that of surrendering. This need not involve calling on a higher power if that doesn’t feel comfortable; the basic process is the same, no matter our belief system.
Essentially, in a quiet moment (mornings seem to work especially well for most people), close your eyes and tell yourself that: I am doing the best work that I can, and the outcome is up to the universe/God/my higher Self.
This does not mean that we eliminate setting goals, only that we understand that all we can do is our best work, and we needn’t worry anymore about how it will work out.
Scripting Imagined Outcomes
Also helpful to do in a quiet moment is a process called scripting, dreaming, or visualization of your best possible future self. This has been used by many successful people, including athletes, in order to envision attaining a goal, winning a race, or even just changing an aspect of ourselves. It’s also been extensively studied by positive psychologists.
Writing about one’s best possible self—a representation of one’s goals—has been found to promote increases in satisfaction with life.Sonja Lyubomirsky, author and psychology professor, University of California
Here’s how to do it. With closed eyes, picture your future self living inside of that ideal life. Really feel everything great about yourself in that moment, in that new house, or new car, or whichever tangible dream works for you. This works best if you can really use all of your senses, from smell to touch, to envision that future you. Then, write it down in extensive detail.
Connection To Others
There are no short-cuts to deeper connections with others. We have to make time for current friends and open up to the possibilities of new ones. Are there friends out there who you haven’t seen in a long time, but miss their presence?
Make a commitment to yourself by setting a date on the calendar, and not letting work interfere with that date. Connection with others is just as important as any other commitment.
It’s also helpful for freelancers to find a “tribe”, like-minded people who are also working towards similar goals. Using Meet-up.com, or looking into group meetings at bookstores, can really help to steer you towards others.
There are also many Master Mind groups out there, too, which mix an entrepreneurial spirit with support and recognition. You could also always start your own group via Meetup or Craigslist. As the saying goes, if you don’t see the group you need, then it’s because you are supposed to start it!
If you are feeling too overwhelmed to even contemplate trying any of the exercises here, or feeling as if your isolation has reached a limit, a psychotherapist can really help.
A licensed therapist will help you recover the fulfilling and meaningful life you’ve chosen for yourself. At Nassau Guidance and Counseling, we will hold a positive and welcoming space for you, wherever you are on your journey.