The New Year effects folks in different ways. Some get excited to start over. Some get depressed because the past year has come to an end. Most people make resolutions that they end up breaking by…ohhhh Jan 8th? (I think that’s fair, right?) Mostly the New Year is a time for reflection of the good and bad over the past year. Although this could be dangerous I think it’s good to appreciate everything you’ve gone through in the past year. With this we can rebuild and reconstruct ourselves. I’m a firm believer in an onward and upward mentality.
At 34 years old I finally realize that those cliche New Years sayings and business sayings are all true. Now I don’t know if I’m getting sentimental as I get older (even though I’ve always been sentimental) or if I’m overcoming the affected cynicism of my twenties. I may also have a different attitude about work and life because I grew up in and still live in New York. I’ve always said this city could be a big balled fist of anger and anxiety one minute and then a paradise of awesome the next. I don’t have small town sensibilities – instead just a get out of my way attitude that I share with my friends who also grew up here. Is it douchey? Maybe. But that’s all we know. It’s not a malicious thing but New Yorkers have an inherent “keep it moving, buddy” attitude. Combine that with being a freelancer and the anxiety that comes with it means the sentimentality and cliche sayings kind of go out the window and hit you at once when you finally get some time to breathe. Maybe not the best way to live but that’s all we know sometimes – especially as a freelancer. We are driven, go go go, and need to get from project to project to survive creatively and monetarily.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was a bit overwhelmed toward the end of the year with project after project and some very extreme highs as well as some extreme lows. (You could associate being a creative freelancer with being a junkie. It’s feast or famine sometimes but we always want more and sometimes when things go wrong we take it personal and blame ourselves…big time.) However, I took the holiday break to consciously reflect on the past year and the things that went right and the things that went wrong. At first I was adamant about fixing mistakes going forward or not doing XYZ but doing ABC instead and it got to the point where my brain was eating itself because I didn’t have all the answers. I was creating unnecessary anxiety for myself and the New Year didn’t even begin! After a couple days of downtime and reading some excellent articles on wellness as a business owner/freelancer I decided to start from scratch as far as resolutions go and maybe throw them out the window. I decided to maybe try and adopt a different attitude toward things and think differently…maybe even think better.
Let Your Mind Go
Most of us unknowingly walk around thinking about the next thing and the thing after that with a furrowed brow deep in thought. If we let that tension and anxiety go it would lead to a clearer head and clearer thinking. It’s one thing to worry but it’s a completely poisonous thing to worry about the endless possibilities that could happen. Don’t sweat what you don’t have control over. Sometimes we need to surrender ourselves to the universe. That doesn’t mean to stop working and be a bum. It means just keep working hard at your thing, hone it, and know that good things will come your way.
No One Is Coming After You
We get so hung up on perceptions that it’s crazy. I think this is one major thing that separates leaders from the rest of the pack. They don’t worry what people think about them. As long as you’re not hurting anyone then who cares about thinking of the time you stumbled over your words at a meeting and causing yourself unnecessary anxiety. Own your self perceived flaws and move on. At the end of the day no one gives a shit and if they do then that means they’re a psychopath.
Mind Your Manners
You don’t have to engage with everything that upsets you. The best part of freewill is that you can just choose to go about your business without engaging anything! Instead of fueling your day with nonsensical anxiety and anger toward people or situations, why not just let it go and be as nice as possible. Genuinely killing people with kindness not only leads to soulful fulfillment but pretty much diffuses any situation. No one wants to be the one that yells at the nice guy.
Take Care Of Your Body
Work out a bit and stop eating like shit. You’ll feel better.
Work Harder, Smarter, Better
Sometimes we get comfortable and coast. Don’t do that. But don’t kill yourself either. Through experience you’ll find that the things you once did could be done a better more efficient way. If you really go through your routine you can fine tune things in a instant because you’ll be thinking about them for once instead of automatically doing them. Look at downtime as a blessing because you can take stock of what you’ve been doing and grow from that.
Remember The Love You Have
It’s not all about money. Money is nice. BUT money can’t replace your family, your spouse, your kids, or your roots. We get so stressed out during the day that we take that anger out on those closest to us. Instead we should find comfort in their proverbial arms while the outside world melts away. Chances are you wouldn’t be where you are without those people.
Be Firm But Don’t Be A Dick
All this talk of taking it easy and relaxing is fantastic but don’t let folks step on you. As a freelancer it can be hard to speak up sometimes. Lots of times clients or a client’s rep will speak to you as if they own your or as if they could do your job better than you can. Just firmly remind them why you were hired in the first place and if they persist then in a professional way just explain to them that their attitude leaves much to be desired. No harm no foul.
Be Who You Want To Be
What’s stopping you? Just the walls you put up yourself. Have confidence in the person you want to be or evolve into. All it takes is a bit of will power and good energy.
Send Positive Energy Outward
Take a deep breathe and exhale yourself into the universe. Just remember that you’re one being in an endless sea of space and time. You’re the only you. Spread joy, love, and positivity wherever you go. Folks will react in kind, situations will react in kind, and the universe will react in kind. Negativity and pessimism are the greatest anchors that we tow around. Let those anchors go and fly free.
Just chill out and everything is gonna be ok.
Anyway, that’s my two cents. Thanks for reading and have a happy new year guys!
(Book a shoot or two while you’re at it!)
Don’t lose your cool, kid. Keep it together.
Being a full time freelancer is tough to begin with. If you’re a full time freelancer in NYC it can be downright mortifying sometimes. Besides avoiding shady clients, net30 paychecks, and pricing yourself correctly, you are dealing with an over saturation of freelancers who could be competing for the same gigs you’re going for. As a photographer – we’re at times a dime a dozen in this city and that can be broken up into several categories depending on exactly what you’re shooting.
There will always be ups and downs and that’s a part of life. But coming back from those downs can be a bit harder to deal with. It can be a blow to your confidence when the work you do is met with either criticism or if even worse a gig ends that’s beyond your control. You would have to pick up the pieces and move on. If you’re freelancing full time and working hard then there is no reason that another door shouldn’t open. It may not happen over night but it will and you’ll get your groove back. But until then how do you stay upbeat? I’ll tell you:
Hone your craft
If you’re met with extra downtime because gigs fell through then use that time to perfect what got you those gigs in the first place. If I have downtime I look back on my past work and see how I can improve upon my style going into the future. Work hard at perfecting your skill.
Take Care of Yourself
It’s easy to fall into a funk and self medicate with food or candy or drugs or booze. Tying one on is all well and good but don’t let it spill over into a week long bender because you’re depressed. Instead think about ways you can improve yourself. Take up something physical and monitor what you eat. It goes a long way with preserving your mental health.
Know Your Worth
If one or two gigs fall through or your phone doesn’t ring for a week – it’s not the end of the world. There are peaks and valleys to freelancing and yes the feast or famine saying can apply. If you have experienced success and can look back and see what you’ve accomplished and who you have connected with that see the good work you do then you should tell yourself it’s going to be ok – I’m worth it – and better things will come my way. Losing one gig doesn’t mean that they’ll all fall through.
Don’t Get Trapped In Your Own Brain.
Often our minds are our own worst enemy. Those thoughts that keep you up at night can spiral out of control and they could make you lose control over your anxiety or emotions – which can be bad for business. Take a second and meditate. Take a step back and realize that there are worse problems out there than whatever is going on in your brain. It’s tough not to jump to conclusions about your path but taking each day as it comes helps big time. It also makes you a better freelancers because you can adapt to more situations.
When faced with a dilemma one of the best things you can do for yourself is decompress and look at it from another point of view. As freelancers we put the biggest pressure on ourselves and are our own worst critic but we also have to know when to take a break and just be a person and not a work a holic. If you’ve suddenly gotten a gap in your calendar take the time to do the personal things you wanted to catch up on. Read a book, watch your favorite shows, buy some new shoes, or hit a new restaurant. You’ll feel better when your brain and body aren’t under the pressure you put on yourself – even if it ends up being just one day.
Be proud of who you are and what you can accomplish. Don’t ever give up the pursuit of your dreams.