Every freelancer experiences ups and downs in their motivation levels from time to time. When you land a new client or finish a large job and have the satisfaction of sending out a substantial invoice, it tends to be a good day. Conversely, when a client goes completely incommunicado mid-job and you have queries outstanding or misses the deadline by which they faithfully promised to pay, this can have a negative impact on your motivation levels. These fluctuations are a natural part of freelance life. But what do you do if your motivation has ebbed and you can’t seem to get it back?
When you feel motivated and inspired to do your work, you can work harder and faster and turn out higher quality results – and still feel happy at the end of the day. Motivation is so much more important to freelancers than to company employees. When someone else is the boss, you get paid regardless of how motivated you feel. When you’re your own boss, your motivation levels can directly impact how much you can bill your clients. Trudging through the day at a snail’s pace because you’re not ‘feeling it’ means that you will work slower and be able to bill less. As such, feeling motivated is incredibly important when you work freelance.
A wide range of factors can cause you to lose your motivation. They differ from person to person. For some, the dull grey and rain of the winter months can feel oppressive and demotivating after the excitement of Christmas has passed. For others, taking on too much work can elevate stress levels to the point that a lack of motivation occurs. Meanwhile, for some, it can be occurrences in their personal life that result in a loss of motivation at work.
If you’re not feeling motivated by your work, then it’s important to explore why that is. Identifying the cause of your lack of motivation will help to shape your strategy for dealing with it – you need to know what’s wrong in order to know what to change.
If you’re looking to revitalise your interest in your freelance work, some or all of the following may be of use.
When did you last learn something new? It can be easy when working freelance to fall into a rut of taking on the same kind of work for the same rate of pay. Why not refresh your career by learning something different? There is so much demand for services such as video translation these days, for example, that a crash course in time-stamping and subtitling could serve to boost your energy levels as well as your bank balance. If video translation doesn’t appeal, how about marketing translation or patent translation? Whatever you choose, a new focus can be a great way to fall back in love with a career that used to inspire you.
If you’re feeling stressed by work or by things that are happening in your personal life, there are steps that you can take to counterbalance those things. Why not meditate or try yoga or Pilates to help you restore inner peace? Tidying, sorting and redecorating at home can also help to bring about a feeling of starting over, which can boost motivation levels in your working life as well as your personal life.
Goal-setting can be a great motivator too. As a freelancer, you won’t have a boss to set your goals, so you’ll need to be proactive and come up with them yourself. How about setting a monthly income target that increases each month? What about tasking yourself with finding two new clients over the next two months? Or with updating your invoicing and payments system? Whichever goals you choose to set, go for a balance of short and longer term aims, so that you can benefit from a fast sense of achievement as well as from the feeling of working towards something.
When you work for a company, treats come in many forms, from team lunches to cupcakes for colleagues’ birthdays. If you’re feeling under pressure and demotivated working on your own, it could be time to treat yourself to something nice. Doing so will both reward you for your hard work and remind you of the value of that work.
Family, friends and even complete strangers are all there to help motivate you if you reach out for support. If you don’t feel like sharing with those closest to you, or they don’t understand the particular strains and stresses that freelancers face, networking on professional sites such as LinkedIn can open up a world of support. After all, there are plenty of other freelancers out there who have been through a crisis of confidence and lost their motivation. Receiving empathic support from others can do much to help you rediscover your mojo, so why not join some freelancing groups on Facebook to kickstart your motivation?
Have you struggled with motivation in the past? What was it that got you back on track? Leave a comment below so that other freelancers can feel inspired by your experiences!