In part one of this sequence I talked about what I wanted to be when I grew up, and how that didn’t work with who I wanted to be — and how writing allows me to be that who while doing something a rather enjoy.
In this sequence, we’ll look at 6 tools, techniques and considerations you can use to turn a freelance career into the life you want.
1. Start at the Top
Covey said it best: “Begin with the end in mind.” You can’t design your perfect lifestyle if you don’t know what it looks like. Start with how much money you want to make, how many hours you want to work while making it, and what opportunities and experiences you want out of your life. Write it down and reference it often.
2. Work the Numbers
Freelancing means working sales, and sales means taking lots of swings while getting only a few hits. Especially early in your career, you’ll need to apply to hundreds of gigs every month to get the assignments you need to make your dreams happen. At this stage, I still send out 5 applications every day and two proposals for magazine articles every week. The more you ask for work, the more work you’ll get.
3. Take Time Off
Freelancing makes it tempting to work all the time, but you’ll have your best ideas and do your best work immediately after a vacation. Give yourself at least one day every week to “unplug” from work, and take plenty of long weekends and longer vacations. Travel. Volunteer at your kids’ school. Owning your time is one of the greatest benefits of freelancing. Not taking advantage makes all the extra work less worth it.
4. Design Your Work Day
Don’t let your time own you by forcing you to react to emergencies all day every day. Schedule your work around your natural rhythms and the activities you enjoy. Work with your family so they respect your work time and are available during your play time. Keep a daily schedule, but keep it to your standards, specifications and needs. Tim Ferriss’s The Four Hour Work Week is an excellent resource for learning about lifestyle design.
5. Have a Plan
Without a boss breathing down your neck, you’ll have to create your own plans and hold yourself accountable. Set annual, quarterly, monthly and even weekly benchmarks for yourself according to your work methods and job flow. Set your daily agendas with the aim of meeting those goals. You won’t always be able to work your plan to the letter, but varying from a plan is better than not having one.
In part three, we’ll look in details at setting goals. Later in this series, we’ll discuss family life for freelancers.