Tommy Darker, a musician, shares his very personal experience setting out on a freelance career in London, a new city.
“… I am free!
Total freedom. No boss. No pressure to wake up at 5am anymore and no constraints on my creative integrity.
It was my choice after all, right? It was me that quit that well-paid NATO job in order to ‘do my own thing’ and devote my life to music. I should feel more comfortable with myself, shouldn’t I?
Except that I don’t.
I’ve never considered giving up and going back to a normal day-job life. This is the threshold of a new life and I’ve got to take the rough with the smooth.
And this is what you’ll do, Tommy.”
I’m talking to myself, don’t worry.
On reflection, I learnt a lot in my early days as a freelance. 5 little things in particular that I’m sure you’ll recognize.
1) My schedule is totally my own
As human beings, we like consistency and routine.
When you are in a day job you delegate most of your decisions (and big part of your life) to your employer and work. Even your social circles often include colleagues from work and your discussions revolve around topics you feel comfortable with.
People argue that ‘they want to break free from the day job’ but in reality they’re afraid of letting go. Because they’ll have to face the ultimate fear: they’ll be totally responsible for ALL of their choices and actions.
So I structure my day, my way. Otherwise my days seem like long periods of time without beginning or end, difficult to organize.
Doing everything on my own terms includes activities that are meaningful to me, changing environment every now and then and going to work in places that inspire me.
Meeting people who share my interests, passions and stimulate me is really important of my average day. (Kindred events are a good start).
I need to do something challenging every day. Especially if it is nerve-wracking and well out of my comfort zone.
2) Pushing myself to my absolute limits is how I stay alive
I used to think that I pushed myself to my limits because I had to, because hard work is expected of you. But it’s more than that. There have been times when I have pushed myself to the point of mental exhaustion at the end of the day. But just when I think there is nothing left, that’s when the special stuff happens.
I understand my own rhythms. It may not be perfect, but it’s part of who I am.
As a friend of mine put it:
“Physical birth is a magical moment filled with pain and cry – but it’s not totally your choice. Likewise at the moment, you face a second birth, the one you chose for yourself and you got the total control of. There will be pain and struggle, yes, but it’s something magical – and it’s yours.”
(thank you my friend)
So there is a constant battle within me, but I enjoy it. Because I know that there will only be one winner: me.
3) I forgot how to be awesome
I was trying so hard to deal with the practicalities of living and working in a new city at the beginning that I almost missed a trick. I worried about perfect cafés to work in, how to position myself as an authority in music marketing and build a reputation, connect with authentic and influential people, but there was something missing.
I wasn’t satisfied.
I was spending too much time in doing ‘busywork’ (an expression coined by Seth Godin) and forgot to do what I do best: be awesome and be bold.
When you realize how you are spending more time on the paperwork and admin than pursuing your dream, it’s just the right time to show how bold and awesome you are. You didn’t set out to be mediocre, did you? Neither did I, and I remembered to be much more bold in my ambitions.
4) Every day I HAVE to do the amount of work it takes
Work doesn’t have to be bad! Even if you love what you do and you don’t consider it to be ‘work’ in the conventional way, it’s what will make things happen for you.
We human beings are creatures of habit: when we get used to doing something, it gets easier.
Some may argue that when you make something part of your routine, you lose the magic and spice but I strongly believe that consistency and a little routine keeps you creatively motivated.
5) Self help books are for the ones who can’t
I’m 25, a fairly young member of this amazing community, and I already know it.
I don’t need blogs about motivation to tell me what to do. They might be entertaining, but they only make me laugh.
I think that constant motivational prods to do stuff probably means you are doing the wrong stuff.
If you are buying Tim Ferriss’ books one after another looking for hacks, consider putting your money in your pocket already, treat yourself a nice warm drink and get to work. It’s that simple. You only make this Tim guy richer.
Enough of me though. I’m interested to know whether this is your experience. Do you struggle with motivation?