Whether out of virtue or necessity, freelancers know that money isn’t everything, and the top reason for people deciding to go it alone is not the prospect of high earnings. This is the finding of the latest report, “Freelancing in America”, the widest study conducted so far about the world of the self-employed. The prime motivation for embarking on this adventure is the desire for freedom: seven out of ten people interviewed said they were driven by the “possibility of working from anywhere”, almost half said the idea of working without a boss was a big draw, while only a minority ranked the economic factor in first place.
There are other equally valid motivations.
Besides greater flexibility over work hours and place of work, freelancers usually have more opportunities to meet professionally interesting people compared to employees. New customers, suppliers, co-workers and partners are connections that may help launch interesting and diverse projects, which can boost a professional career.
Personal improvement, on a wider scale or specific skills, is also one of the advantages of working for yourself. Creating an efficient routine allows you to exploit the time “saved” for studying, upgrading your knowledge and understanding which skills can give you a competitive advantage.
Passion or escape?
It’s quite a leap from here to imagining an army of happy, liberated workers. Herzberg’s two-factor theory, a classic of work psychology, explains that motivations can often have a negative effect. Intolerance of rigid schedules, the relationship with superiors and an unsatisfying productive environment are typical pretexts for abandoning an office position. A desire to escape may also lie behind some freelancers’ yearning for freedom.
On the other hand, problems start when the freelance lifestyle also has its specific demotivating factors. If not dealt with properly, changes can multiply insecurities like the interpersonal relations that disappear, having to organise your own working days or unpredictable income. Or even fostering second thoughts and a sense of guilt over what is often perceived as a “maverick” choice.
Working freelance is not just about negative factors, of course!
The good news is that by being your own boss, the variables you can control actually multiply, allowing you to tangibly improve your working life, without having to make continuous compromises for other needs. Your requirements, personal and family included, thus become a main priority.
Besides following our advice for smart working, you can find new impetus and combat demotivating factors for freelancers by getting inspiration from the ABCD rule: success is guaranteed!
- A Making contact with “similar” people helps combat the feeling of isolation. Co-working, professional associations and online networks are a goldmine of contacts who have made the same choice as you. Besides reminding you that you are not alone, business opportunities multiply.
- B Working freelance is by nature irregular. Accept the fact that you may experience alternating peaks and troughs of work. Think how you could make those quiet times productive. For example, getting on with some professional training, cultivating your network and getting organised for your next job.
- Collect rewards. Divide your work up into micro-goals and collect rewards when you achieve them. They can even be small rewards…if I answer five emails that need to be dealt with, then I can treat myself to a coffee. A study by Vanderbilt University suggests that doing this helps maintain high levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that sustains motivation.
- D Do away with the PJs. Dress for the office and start the day with a work plan. A smart outfit clearly dictates the rules and motivates you to achieve goals. And if you’re self-employed, you’re the boss.
A better working life has noticeable effects on individual productivity. The result? Hours behind the desk spent more efficiently and more free time!