My first Internet business was impressively exhausting.
I built it while working full-time in a job I hated, so naturally, it sucked up every extra bit of energy and time I had. It amounted to a part-time job (at LEAST) on top of a full-time career. I learned a lot of lessons that I’m thankful for, but I’m beginning to accept that what I should probably be most happy about, is the fact that it failed.
In the second semester of my junior year of high school, I learned a life-defining lesson about myself…I don’t deal with stress well.
I guess it depends on how you look at it, but all I know is that stress, for me, manifests physically. When I was younger and fighting my way through college applications and AP exams, that meant a series of sinus infections and recurring lower back pain. At 21, in a depressing post-collegiate job, it meant thinning hair and disordered eating. In grad school? Problems with my thyroid.
By the time I got into my 30s, I had accepted how my body processes stress. The problem was, I didn’t know how to get away from the extended drain of an abusive work environment (that was quickly burning me out) without piling even more onto myself. In my work to build that business my body, of course, reacted again. This time with weight gain and more health issues.
By the time I started freelancing, I’d learned my lesson four times over. I knew that if I didn’t prioritize peace, not just in my life, but specifically in the business I was shaping, that I would end up repeating that same heavy lesson one more time…maybe even forever.
I want you to skip as much of that as possible, so I’m going to give you a few tips on building peace into your freelance business. If you’re already up and running, know that it’s not too late to shift your perspective and rethink the way you approach your work and your freelance life.
Know Your Motivations
From personal experience, I can tell you that running way from something one of the most stressful types of motivation you can have for…doing anything really. I dealt with this heavily after I was laid off because I felt that there was a life of miserable employment nipping at my heels at all times.
Eventually, though, I took a step back and realized that what I was actually doing was finding a place for myself in the world of freelance work. That orientation didn’t get me paid any faster, but it did calm me and help me make better decisions.
Start Before You Need To
If you think that at any point in your life you might want to consider going out on your own, start now.
I don’t mean you need to do everything right this second, but start listening to other freelancers. Start thinking about your niche, developing your skills, and following freelancing overall. Not having time (or bills) running you down is possibly the best stress-reliever out there and when you do launch? You’ll be in a place most freelancers don’t get to experience.
Be Careful Who “Inspires” You
Insecurity is a powerful tool.
On this Internet of ours, there are a lot of people who make a living making sure you’re constantly grinding, steadily expending energy, and endlessly pushing toward whatever goal is popular for that week. I’m not saying inspiration, or even effort is wrong but know that not everyone out there—business guru, family, or friends—benefits from you finding peace.
Know who gets by off you feeling like you’re not enough. Make distance accordingly.
There are multiple reasons I push choosing a niche around here, and peace is one of them.
Ask anyone who’s trying to figure out where they fit as a freelancer, and they’ll tell you not knowing your place can easily leave you chasing after any and every client out there, not knowing how to reject poor fits, and burning priceless energy on unorganized marketing.
If you’re open to being specific, even if what that ultimately looks like changes over time, you’ll be getting better return on your effort and finding more focus as a freelancer.
Make “No” A Habit
That tiny little word isn’t only important before you start freelancing, it’s also something you’ll need to get comfortable with doing more and more often.
You’ll need to say “no” to skillsets that don’t work for you, niches that have cooled off, clients who just aren’t worth it anymore, and even information that doesn’t pertain to you. Keeping an open mind is critical to freelancing, but knowing when to close doors is possibly even more important.
Acknowledge the Beauty of Slow Growth
I STILL struggle with this one sometimes, but I regularly get reminders of why it’s important.
I would love to have 3 huge new clients drop in my lap tomorrow, but if I’m being honest with myself, getting acclimated to a new client can be a stressful process for me, that leaves me swinging between confidence and insecurity and falling back into bad coping habits that I developed while I was employed.
As someone who’s still got some healing to do, slow growth is important for me. Applying that concept has required that I be very serious about standing by my worth, pushing my rates and focusing on higher-paying clients so that I could build the income I needed, which isn’t a bad habit to get into at all.
Make Peace a Priority
Most importantly, if you want a business that ultimately contributes to your life, you have to be intentional about it.
Know what peace looks like for you. Know how you relate to goals and other progress measures. Pay attention to the signs that you’re experiencing negative stress and listen to them. Ultimately, shaping a business that improves your life won’t happen unless you decide that it’s something that’s important to you.
One last thing…encourage others to prioritize their well-being as they shape their businesses too. It’s a habit that has a way of coming back to you.