There are a lot of myths and rumours about working as a freelance anything, especially something where you are working from a computer all day. These myths, fuelled by the desire to live and work outside of an office environment, are also a facade when it comes to living a life as a freelancer. From the outside, what could be better than working your own hours, away from people in solitude, peace and quiet, taking half-days, and maybe a nap in the afternoon. It’s total freedom, right?
Unfortunately, freelancers aren’t millionaire like the description above. This is something someone with a lot of money doesn’t have to worry about. Freelancers still have to work to make a living, pay bills, taxes, and various expenses, while still trying to save money, with the dream to live a leisurely life-like everyone else. The difference is the environment in which freelancers work and how often they receive work.
A very real threat to freelancers, especially those who work remotely, is mental health issues.
It’s very important for a freelance [whatever] to maintain a state of positivity, in physical and in mental health. To not find positivity in relief from a remote working environment, is to gradually fall down a slippery slope into an issues affecting your mindset.
If you find yourself unmotivated to continue work, if the work is too stressful, or maybe there isn’t enough work coming your way for some time, which is just as stressful as hard work. How are you going to pay your weekly/monthly expenses and even continue living the lifestyle you once had, let alone aiming to increase your standard of living over time?
Thoughts of self-doubt do kick-in from time to time. Where you think to yourself, ‘Am I good enough?’, when you see other people achieving goals in a similar field to yours. You can’t help but think, ‘Why couldn’t that be me?’, and ‘Why am I not achieving my goals?’ or ‘Why am I not growing?’. This is an asinine mindset of course, and like I mentioned above, is part of the slippery slope into a pit of self-doubt, where there is no ladder you can only dig down.
To take the shovel out of your hand. You have to stay positive. Easier said than done, right? It’s only if you want to get better. Like everything in life. If you want to succeed or get better at anything you have to want it enough. Enough to be willing to sacrifice something else that isn’t working at this time or is taking your time that could be put to better use elsewhere in your life.
Even if that is more hours on a computer, working at what you once loved to do, but no feel drained and hardly motivated to show up, the only thing that motivates you to turn up is where the next paycheck will come from to help you make ends meet this month, instead of when it was once to turn up for your own personal and artistic growth.
Show up to get better, not to live, but for the sake of growing your skills and becoming a better person.
Remember why you starting this campaign in the first place. Remember the drive and passion you once had for the subject. If you can get that back from the rut that you may find yourself in at any moment in time, it snowballs from one thing to the next either in your work life or social life. It’s all about maintaining, or if you have lost it, gaining a positive mental wellbeing. Not just for your work, but for your yourself.
Here are some tips on staying positive while working solo, from a remote environment;
- Get dressed into the clothes that you would wear if you were in an office surrounded with other people. It’s easy when you first leave an office environment where you had a routine of waking early and getting dressed where you would see people all day. The routine is something that can easily be transferred into your freelance routine. Over time, the temptation of sitting in your PJ’s may set in as you become aware that there is no one to get dressed for if you are working for yourself and a freelancer. But keeping all the routines you had in your office job or otherwise where you had to maintain some sort of dress code is an under appreciated key to staying motivated. The idea is to maintain a work/life balance. This extends to the types of clothes you wear where you work. Get into smart casual in the day, then change to lounge-wear in the evening, the same as you would do if you were working with people in a public place all day. (See Enclothed Cognition)
- Keep your social life healthy. Go out with friends, do new things, if you can;t travel abroad then travel within your own country, join new clubs even. Anything that will keep you socialised with new people and make new connections. I say connections in a personal sense, not just in a work sense. The more people you meet the more people they will know who may avail of your services in the future. I’m an ENTJ [personality type], which means I like to be around other people in social environments. So for others who struggle with working remotely away from others. Try keep in with people and make new friends to hangout with and talk to. Trying new things with friends or even strangers is a good way to help break up the monotony that is sitting at your desk and working. The work will never end when you work for yourself, there is always something you can do. Be sure to get away from your desk and hangout with friends, or even make new ones and create new experiences.If you’re struggling with work or your health or something is getting you down about it, talk to someone you trust, a family member, a close friend. You will find, just talking about the problem makes it feel like less than a burden. They will want to help you get back to your normal self in any way possible, they may even have a solution for the problem you were worried about. Sometimes you worry so much that you cloud your own judgement while the answer is right there in front of you the whole time.
- Take a break and go outside. As simple as it sounds, the benefits of going outside are tremendous. Fresh air, sunlight, and the ability to walk away from your work and think of other things in your life. I find that a lot of my ideas for new artwork and designs come from doing absolutely nothing at all, just walking outside away from the confines of a small, quiet room. The health benefits of going outside for someone who is used to working indoors for prolonged periods can be profound. We absorb 90% of our daily requirement of Vitamin D from sunlight, even on a cloudy day. So take a break, and go outside.
- Set a goal and be around successful people. Try to get around other successful people, in your field or otherwise. It’s a mentality. Successful people want to do better, and aren’t satisfied with just being successful in one thing. There is a drive to do better. Listening to interviews, speaking events, radio shows or podcasts from various different fields. The drive to succeed is contagious if you can get around the people with it. I recommend trying to find someone who you can be accountable with, someone on your level, not someone who has been established for 10 years, has 100k followers online and is a well-known figure in your industry. you need someone on a similar level to you. Reach out to them, even if they do the same thing as you. Don’t compare your level of work to them, compare you level of output. Help each other grow, set a goal and be accountable to one another. This will help your grow your skills and reach new goals for your business, while also maintain a social interaction.
- Wake early and exercise. exercise and sleep are fundamental in maintain a positive mentality. There are numerous studies on it, and I don’t have to tell you how important this is for maintaining your physical and mental wellbeing. Make a routine of waking up early and doing exercise early rather than later when your energy has drained. Instead of laying in bed checking your phone. Get up and run for 20 mins, or do resistance exercises, anything that gets you up and moving. Set a challenge for yourself, dedicate a time to go running or do a workout on a regular basis. At the end of it all, your health is all that matters, you know all about it when you are unwell.
More than likely, you’re freelancing at something because you have a skill, you have the ability to offer others a service that is learned and acquired over time. Never forget that you are a specialist for that reason alone. This makes you unique at what you do and a reason to be proud of what you do.
Keeping positive is crucial when working for yourself and by yourself in isolation some times. Getting outside, meeting people, taking time off for yourself and rewarding those little successes is what makes you freelancing pay off in the long run.
Remember, struggling in silence will get you nowhere. There is always someone, somewhere willing to help you, in any way they can.