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Home » Operations

How to handle the emotional turmoil of being a freelancer

Today we’re featuring a guest post from Eduard Ezeanu from PeopleSkillsDecoded.com. Eduard is a communications coach from Bucharest, Romania.

You can follow Eduard on Twitter, on his blog or on Facebook.

Today’s Friday Follow (#FF)  is Eduard.   Over to you Eduard:

When I started working as a freelancer, many people who found out about it told me they think it takes a lot of courage to do that and they couldnít handle the whole stress of it. The responsibility, the risk, the simple thought that youíre on your own can create a pretty big emotional turmoil for a freelancer.

I have felt this turmoil myself, manifested in sleepless nights and days without being able to eat almost anything. Fortunately, I found ways to manage it effectively and keep going as a freelancer, following my dream and my plan.

I believe that in order to be a successful freelancer, you need to make more than a career shift or a schedule shift. The most important shift you need to make is a psychological one. Itís mentally embracing the costs and benefits which come with freelancing, so it does function as an emotional burden on you. Here are some of the essential things which will help you do this:

1. Realize that you can handle it. One of my favorite mantras is ìI can handle itî. I recommend that you use it every time you start to worry about how you freelance work is going and think that you will screw things up.

Thousands of people before you have managed to be successful freelancers; there is no reason not to think that you will be able too. The path is largely laid out. What you need is to follow the road signs, think on your feet, take action, adapt when necessary and eventually, you will get great results as a freelancer. The vast majority of worries people have in this area come from underestimating themselves for no good reason.

2. Realize that all failure is learning. One of the main sources of emotional turmoil as a freelancer is the somewhat big possibility of failure associated with this kind of a career path. However, instead of possible failure being a source of negative emotions, you can make something positive out of it.

How? By making a shift in perception: by realizing that all failure contains within it the possibility of success. Failure is feedback. If you seek to understand your failures, you gain valuable knowledge from it. And you can use this knowledge to get success. Most freelancers fail a lot at first, when they are in the experimenting phase of their work. But those who learn from it and move towards mastery, eventually get tremendous success.

3. Have a plan B. Most people instantly drop a lot of the anxiety they have working as freelancers if they know they have a backup plan. Because with a backup plan, they know that even if things go really bad in their freelancing, they can absorb the negative impact and they wonít end up out on the street or something like that.

A lot of things can be a plan B: a regular job you can get, a different type of work you can do, a family member which can support you financially. Look around, think things through and discover what your plan B can be. When you have it and you know you can rely on it, you get a lot more courage as a freelancer.

4. Take time off to relax. The thing about emotional stress is that it tends to build up on itself. Many freelancers make the mistake when things are uncertain and theyíre worried, to work on them night and day trying to solve them. But as this process can take months and even years, their stress levels go through the roof.

This is why itís very important to take time of periodically, and use this time to defocus and to relax. The best way to go is to make sure you have time off every day, days off every weeks and vacations every year. And you use them to actually do relaxing things. When you return to your work, you will be much more efficient.

What those people told me was probably true: they couldnít handle the stress of being freelancers. But it was not because itís impossible. It was because they lack the knowledge to do so. When you understand the way your emotions work, you have the power to manage them effectively, and you can work any way you see fit.

Eduard Ezeanu is a communication coach with an attitude-based approach. He helps others to improve people skills they find relevant and get top notch results. He also writes on his blog, People Skills Decoded.

3 Comments »

  • Joshua Black | The Underdog Millionaire said:

    There are a lot of great lessons in this post. When you’re a freelancer, your entire destiny is on your shoulders. Than can be both exciting and very stressful at the same time.

    I think that having a plab B and taking time off to relax are very crucial steps in the process of moving forward to find your niche in freelancing.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  • Eduard @ People Skills Decoded said:

    Hey Joshua,

    I’m currently taking some time off, chilling with some friends , and I can definitely stress at this point how important time off is. No matter how much you enjoy your work, you need to recharge your batteries once in a while.

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Thanks for the comment Joshua. As a freelancer you definitely need to have a plan B and take time off and relax and recharge the batteries. Sometimes to move forward you have to move sideways or pause.