Tips to Motivate Yourself as a Freelancer
Freelancing Is Not All That Glamorous
The freelancer's lifestyle seems to have become associated with freedom, enjoyment, and glamor - among many other enviable things. It is quite understandable that many people think that being a freelancer offers a whole new world of freedom, especially as compared to sitting at a desk from nine to five, five days a week.
However, anyone who has been freelancing for even a few months will know that it is not all that glamorous. And sure, there is a higher degree of freedom and flexibility, but that does not equate to not working at all.
Being a freelancer means self-discipline and being able to motivate yourself even at the most difficult of days.
It does not matter what it is exactly that you do as a freelancer. Whether you write, design, or code, you will, at some point, face a low point in your work flow.
What do you then?
Here are some practical steps to help you find that motivation that is within you.
Take a Break
Normally, I would say just go ahead and plod on at work if you feel the urge to NOT work. However, there comes a point when merely plodding on might not do the trick. Sure, you might still get some work done, but what about its quality? And, in the long run, you may very well end up burning out.
We can all use a break now and then.
When you feel that you do not have any motivation for what you are doing, one of the best things you can do is to step away from your work. Go for a walk, or simply sit out on the porch. Go for a swim. Hit the gym. It does not matter what you end up doing. The important thing is that you remove yourself from whatever it is that you are doing.
This does not mean you stop working for good. It only means that you are giving yourself mental - and physical - space so that you can take on a perspective that is not too intertwined with work.
Keep Your Eyes on the Goal
So you've decided to allow yourself to take a break. Aside from simply prying free from the stress of work, it is also wise to take advantage of this time to egg yourself on.
The most effective thing, in my experience, is to ask yourself this question: Why am I doing this again?
Variations and follow up questions may be:
- Why did I decide to go freelance?
- What are the things I love about being a freelancer?
- How can freelancing help me get where I want to be in x years?
All of us took this path for a good reason. Sometimes, due to a variety of reasons (routine, too much work, etc.), we forget that reason. We lose sight of our goals.
When you lack motivation as a freelancer, go back to your roots. Go back to the beginning and find that main goal of yours. As Nietzsche said, "He who has a why to love for can bear almost any how."
Why did you choose to go freelance?
Give Yourself Something To Look Forward To
It is human nature to work harder if there is something to look forward to. In the corporate set up, good work is rewarded. The rewards take on various forms: monetary bonuses, certificates of recognition, a company car, a trip to the beach, and so on.
Just because you have gone solo and are your own boss does not mean you cannot motivate yourself with rewards as well!
Of course, you have to be disciplined and realistic when it comes to rewarding yourself. What I have found to be very effective is to break down goals into doable chunks and reward myself accordingly.
For example, if I am able to complete all my writing goals for the day, I allow myself a little extra time to watch a TV series or movie that I have been wanting to watch before turning in for the night. If, at the end of the month, I meet my writing goals without having to kill myself to meet the deadline, I treat myself to a little shopping expedition. You get the idea?
Be specific about your goals, and set appropriate rewards that are just as specific. And, don't go back on your word even if you are tempted. You deserve those rewards, and they'll help you keep up the enthusiasm for work.