These GFH articles have been down in the depths as of late, discussing the hard realities of having a business and searching for work. I’d be remiss to suggest that it really is turtles all the way down. Time to bring this trend of topics back toward the surface.
I don’t get stressed out easily. For some strange reason, God has given me a strange shield against freaking out. While I feel stress just like you, dear reader, it never manifests through sports teams, political issues, or world events. The times when I feel pressure are when I could do something and simply cannot. If said limitation is self-inflicted, stress happens much sooner than later.
When you are a freelancer, there are a number of constraints that shape what you do. Your daily process is impacted by a host of inputs beyond your control. I’ve been pondering some examples of external variables that can constrain internal processing.
As a “Gun For Hire” you are probably responsible for finding the work that you will be doing. This process of hunt/gather is daunting when you realize how many of your peers are trying to do the same thing, yet there is an excitement to it as well. Somehow, you have to figure out where your next gig is coming from. There’s a challenge involved before you even start the work itself.
Contrast this to the traditional “job” where you show up and check tasks off a to-do list. There’s a big difference there; one requires a cognitive bench-press, but both require showing up and being faithful to the overall mission at hand.
How about learning new things, picking up skills, or finding new ways of doing things? While most freelancers are likely to be self-starters, there’s something to be said for the old master/apprentice balance of learning new things. I know there have been days when I’d have killed for the chance to talk with someone older, wiser, and more practiced out here in webspace. My father has been a huge help in these moments, helping me make logical leaps even when the issues land outside his understanding (which isn’t that often).
One benefit to working directly with others – and why I believe that every freelancer must regularly network and socialize – is that you can learn how they think, not just how they work. My major confession here is that I have never had any formal web training at all; everything I know has been self-taught.
Notice that I didn’t say I have never had “structured” training, as the host of resources online and (gasp!) in physical books can provide plenty of structure for those who wish to apply themselves.
Ah, yes, the money. You’d probably like to be paid for your work, eh? Any freelancer will have felt the pain of collecting on completed work, which (hopefully) would not be an issue in a traditional company environment. This is where stress can pile up, but you can’t let get to you, as it affects everything that you do. Keep your chin up, bill confidently, and have a contract. Always.
I never want to discourage folks like you from being self-employed. This is one of the most fascinating journeys I have ever been on, and I would not trade the lessons and scars. Having to stand on your own is part of life, part of growing up, part of figuring out how to work with other people.
Freelancers ultimately have to rely upon their sense of when and how high to jump. Some would say, “CK you should get a real job!” It would seem that something full-time would solve a lot of these problems, that having some known factors would be helpful, right?
Even in a “real job,” however, you can’t rely on any company to solve all of your problems. We see things come and go all the time; the mindset of no-stressing-out-allowed still applies.
My parents taught me from an early age that you shouldn’t be crushed by a weight that you cannot control: “All you can do is your very best.” They would tell me that before I took a test, played in a big game, or fired a model rocket into the sky. That mindset has stuck with me and helps avoid the freak-outs that plague a lot of workers in my generation. Reliance upon the work that you do is key to surviving in the wild west of open space. Strap in and get to work!