Sounds a bit harsh perhaps, but to be honest, that’s often how you can feel after leaving your corporate job. You start your career with the very best of intentions, but find that 6 months into each job you can find that you’ve got very little in common with the culture. So many people leave jobs having lost their confidence, their energy and their sense of worth, and either find themselves on the edge of freelance-dom because they want to take control of their own career, or they have to find a new way to earn.
Of course going independent, and working freelance is the best job in the world, but it’s a radically different way to earn a living, it can be challenging and it’s a good idea to detox and rid yourself of all that negativity before you launch in.
So here’s some things to consider:
1. Remember what you want to stand for
One of the greatest regrets when leaving a job that promised so much at the start is that you will have come to realise that those things that you hold dear, the things that matter – ie your value set, does not match those of your employer.
As you approach your new independent career, think about what really matters to you and make sure that your new life isn’t at odds with your values.
2. Keep your feet on the ground
It might sound odd, but having all that freedom to choose your own hours, your clients and your lifestyle can be a heady mix. Make sure you allow yourself time to enjoy the good days, because every freelancer or independent has moments of doubt and days when it doesn’t quite come together.
And there’s another reason for enjoying your freedom and being grateful for it. When the bad days come, you’ll need to draw on these memories. It’s what stops you from compromising
3. Get yourself a routine
As I said above, the freedom to be able to choose your hours and how much work you take on takes some getting used to. It’s easy to fall into the trap of putting it off for another day!
You really do need to set yourself daily goals. They don’t need to be bit ones, but you need to get into the habit of routine, Especially if you are doing something that you love that doesn’t feel like work.
4. Get yourself some help
Noone. No, not even you, is perfect at everything. We all have our strengths and you need to identify what you can do yourself and what you need to outsource.
Most people make the early mistake of thinking that they can save money and do it themselves. To a certain extent, it’s good to stretch yourself, but we soon come to realise that getting another expert in to do those things that you aren’t as good at can be a great way to cover off more bases and make more money. Basically, you should outsource everything you aren’t in love with doing so that you can get on with doing the things you love.
5. Remember how to have a relationship
One of the great joys of freelancing is that you can choose who to connect with and who to work with. You build your own virtual team. In fact, it’s critical that you remember how to develop good relationships based on mutual trust and collaboration, because you won’t survive without them.
I quite often connect with people at an event or even on Linkedin, and we’ll grab a coffee together. As someone said to me this week, a coffee with someone new is never wasted.
But there are also your more personal relationships, with friends and family. Take time to nurture these too, because they will guide you when the going gets tough, and bolster your confidence when you need it.
6. Develop your immune system
By which I don’t actually mean your internal immune system – although you should certainly stay healthy and fit – that’s one of the benefits of freelancing. What I really mean is that the nature of freelancing means that you will have ‘troughs’ in earnings. Sometimes a new client comes in and they’ll pay you a decent rate, but then you might have a long period with no work.
When that happens, inevitably you start to believe that a full time job as an employee looks a lot less stressful. It’s at times like this when you need to draw on your experience, your friends and your network. Understand that this will pass. It almost always does. You’ll regret giving up to go back to corporate life. So hang on in there. You do that by learning resilience.
So, now you’re all set. What are you waiting for? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are thinking of leaving your job behind and working for yourself. We love to hear your stories and we sometimes feature these on the blog.