In 2013 I quit my go nowhere job to start my photography business full time. I had no capital, no clients, just sweat equity and moral support. Four years later my business is going strong and I have a steady clientele that lets me pay the bills and have some fun as well. There were many times in that two years in business that I felt like the burden of having minimal finances was too much to bear. There were tons of sleepless nights and days of worry when I wasn’t getting client emails or calls. I would become moody and intolerable.
Mental fortitude got me through it. I know I was good enough to make something of myself on my own. My work was adequate at the time for what I was charging. And slowly but surely my work got better and my clients got bigger. I went from price shoppers and late payers to reputable clients that didn’t play games. During these last four years I’ve tried to absorb as much as possible about business and creating something artful through my profession that is not only fulfilling but something eye catching that my clients want. It’s a never ending journey and I understand that, which I do enjoy because it’s a challenge. I can honestly say being a gamer helps because with each stage or challenge to level up your skills to get to the next area. Sometimes you need to build your skills up more than you ever thought just so you can reach that pinnacle where yet more challenges await and dammit I love a good challenge.
Of course this journey is also full of establishing work life balance, networking, selling your skills, finding work, making sure work gets completed on time, and making time for family and friends. There was a period of time where I just disappeared from my friends, which at the time I thought that was the right thing to do. I was wrong. It was just a mis management of time on my part. There was also a short period where I lost myself to freelancing in the respect that money was coming in and I was being very lazy, which is NOT a good thing at all because when laziness hits that money stops coming in. I fell into the trap of making my own schedule and rules and enjoyed a little too much food and drink, which cause it’s on stresses after the fact.
It’s hard not to let stress get to you but you always have to think about the opposite side of the equation. If you are making your dreams into goals and making those goals a reality you need to operate with a clear and positive mind. Again – having a clear head 100% of the time is impossible but you can strive to be thoughtful and aware of your situation and your skills. Over the last four years I’ve met lots of creatives who gave up on their dreams to go back to a 9-5 work day. The stress got to them and they went back to what they knew, which was a regimented day to day operation in which they are told what to do and punch out at 5 or 6. That’s great if they are happy but I know one of the reasons I work so hard is to not have to go back to the 9-5 drudge. The thought of it makes me queasy.
If you need to destress I suggest look at the things in your life that are affecting your mind. It could be anything from too much alcohol, eating the wrong food, not getting enough sleep, not working out, or just getting easily frustrated. For me I need a combination of working out, clean eating, and getting plenty of rest so I can be at my best every day. Working out helps with a clear head because I can just exercise my frustrations and leave them on the street. Eating clean helps my body as well. If you feel good on the inside it only helps what’s up stairs. I cannot function when I’m tired. I get lazy and just want to crawl back into bed. Limit your late nights for when you truly should have fun and blow off steam. You can easily eliminate your bad habits and turn them into positive ones. For example starting in 2017 every time I wanted to go for a drink or meal that wasn’t home cooked I would just take that money and put it in my savings. It added up and I bit myself for not doing that sooner.
Full time freelancers also tend to forget their hobbies because they are always so busy. You may not know this but it adds to your stress level because you have no mental release of everything that’s pent up inside you. For me 2017 started with adding writing, drawing, and playing music at least once a day every day and I find it extremely refreshing because it again clears your mind so you can focus on your tasks at hand. You are in control of you and no one is going to tell you that you can’t pickup a guitar in the middle of the day so you can jam out a few tunes before sitting back on your computer. Shutting off your screens and chilling out before bed also helps big time. I’m a big believer in positive thinking and there is nothing but goodness that comes from that. It’s all about being mindful. Your mind is so powerful that you can achieve anything you want literally by setting your mind to it. Take a deep breath and exhale that goodness. Fill your lungs with awesome and show it to the world.