Articles - 17th December 2020

Are freelancers right to challenge the growth mindset?

Words by Amanda Smith
Illustration by James Merritt

Freelancing is often a paradox of perspectives. To many members of the public, freelancing is an ‘in-between’ career choice – not something to be relied on or thought about in terms of longevity.

 “Can’t get an agency gig, huh?”

“Oh, you’re busy? Why not hire people?”

“You can actually earn enough freelancing?

But the truth is, freelancers are only succesful as freelaners because they want to do it. It’s only when our schedule’s bursting beyond our self-designed six-hour workday that we even flirt with the idea of hiring and systemising. When that chatty internal voice tends to get louder…

Hello, passive income…

It’s what all entrepreneurs do…

Then it’ll be a real business…

Everyone else is saying to do it, it must be true…

If I’m not doing more and earning more, I’m not growing. 

It’s like having an annoying co-worker who doesn’t shut up. But I’ve never been one to succumb to office politics. That voice is just a servant to a philosophy that’s ingrained within us: that bigger is always better.

Freelancing isn’t a jumping off point for something grander. What’s ‘better’ is what’s right for you. I didn’t become a freelancer to spend my hours training people and chasing leads to supplement wages.

To me, freelancing means fostering a deeper connection to the world through the stories I tell and having the freedom to pursue something that’s tugging away, ‘saying’ follow me! It’s a way of working that’s values-led, intentional, and always changing.

Sometimes it means doing more, creating more, and selling more. Other times, it’s taking the foot off the pedal and giving myself the time, space and permission to take a step back. That’s what makes the game so fun. The push-pull.

Freelancing is the structure I work best within. It feeds my needs for variety, fun and flexibility. I look at work like I look at life: getting right up close to the edge the end of the unknown. If my work was a cocktail, it would be a shot of predictability and a few nips of serendipity as mixer, to take the edge off.

It’s by leaning into these nuances that freelancing has become my longest ‘job’ in 32 years. Here’s what I mean by challenging the growth mindset, to create more joy in your days.


Interrogate that uphill trajectory

Get in the habit of asking yourself: why do I want to do this? Develop the muscle of observing your thoughts and learning whether they’re your own or not. Is it true to YOU or did you adopt it socially?

Sit with yourself and explore why you associate hustling with success or why working nights and weekends is ‘good’ for your business. Why do you want to write a book, expand globally or work with bigger companies? It is because it’s a real dream or something you feel you ‘should’ do?

Don’t get caught in the trappings of linear thinking. Freelancing is anything but linear. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with staying nimble and humble, fighting the expectation to hire staff and go big.


Be wary of growth addiction

Freelancers tend to play more on the cusp of the unknown, with an affinity for newness. Your worldview is expansive and there’s never a shortage of things you want to achieve in life. There’s a fire inside of you and accomplishments are like kindling – you just want to keep that feeling burning.

It’s probably the reason why you’re a freelancer. You go where others don’t. But it’s also a double-edged sword in that you have to learn to settle that beast and find solace in where you are, right now.

While it feels like there’s always something to be done, to achieve or progress towards, be conscious of your affinity for growth.

Growth for growth’s sake is pointless.


Challenging the ‘you need this’ advice

The same wave of thinking can be used when you’re coming up against “you need to do this” advice. This advice might even be coming from that monkey-mind of yours.

You can’t not be on social media…

You have to put profit back into marketing… 

You need to outsource…

You get the drift? Again, master the skill of interrogation. Explore beyond those thoughts and the advice you receive, to see if there are alternatives. Maybe you CAN operate without social media because you’re sending daily emails. Take what you hear with a grain of salt and find what works for you. It’s a whole new way of thinking.


Eliminate, don’t outsource.

Outsourcing is sexier than elimination, yes. But do you really need a VA, a team to delegate tasks to or setup automations? Will this really free up more time and help expand your profits?

Before going anywhere near outsourcing, work on prioritising what’s essential. Whether it’s project management, deadlines, software or that neglected to-do list, then cut the rest. Give yourself the PERMISSION to say, ‘hey, I don’t actually need this.’ You’ll save time, create mental space and liberate yourself. Plus, cutting things back won’t cost you 5p.
While there are certainly plenty of motivators to grow, the point is, it should be up to you to make that decision. Bigger isn’t always better. Staying small doesn’t mean limiting.

With just you behind the wheel, you choose the road you want to take. You can change lines, pivot directions, stop to enjoy the scenery, and enjoy the ride. It’s an empowering position where you make the decisions about when to work, how much to earn, and what’s important.

It’s probably why you became a freelancer in the first place. Check in with yourself and ask: Am I doing this because I want to… or because I think I should. Challenge ‘business as usual.’ Heck, It’s challenge ‘life as usual.’ You get to make the rules.

Start exploring how you can fit your business into your life, not the other way around.

We champion the freelancers and every entrepreneur who took a leap of faith with their idea.

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