Casting off the shackles of 9 – 5 based oppression requires you to accept and adapt to a much different modus operandi. Regular income, corporate benefits, paid sick days and the ever popular overtime are now things of the past. But it doesn’t stop at the financial differences, your social life and even “quiet alone time” could be lost to you, even when you attempt to relax the looming sensation of “I could/I should be working” will stab the back of your mind like a shiv.
You have to take complete and total responsibility for yourself, your business and your future. And what’s worse, you will often find yourself alone with no information about how to proceed when faced with problems. It’s simultaneously the most liberating and frightening thing you will ever do, and fundamentally – you are alone in it.
This piece isn’t meant to dissuade you from becoming a freelance/contractor, merely lay out a few universal truths about the realities of doing so. It can be tough, often thankless work, and your friends and family might not fully understand it either. But you’ve made this potentially life altering decision so “man up” (not sure how that idiom is meant to help women?) and except it or move back to your parents basement!
So then, all aboard the truth train!
The line between “professional” and “Private” life will fade.
One of the fundamental truths of freelancing is that your perception of “at work” and “not at work” becomes redundant as you start to run off the universal standard of “Client time. This becomes an even harder transformation if you happen to work from home and not “on site” as you lack anybody to inform you of when your day is “done”.
The other side of this coin being if you sleep in, or simply miss a few hours doing… well anything really, you again lack anybody to tell you “GET BACK TO WORK!” As such, you can often be left with the perpetual nagging feeling that you really should be anything else right now (no matter what your actually doing at time) most likely working.
Set your own goals, achieve them and repeat.
One more “luxury” that will be stripped away from you upon going freelance is that of excuses. In steady employment you had the option to (or make the excuse of) blaming your employer or perhaps the company as a whole for a lack of any real career progression or terminally low pay. Upon making the leap you lose this ability, everything rests firmly, almost oppressively upon your own shoulders.
Every decision about your business, career and the consequences are yours alone to live with. Instead of litigation with your boss, you enter into full blown negotiations with multiple clients like the newly elected representative of a small principality arguing potential resource rights with the “Big Boys”. That’s the realities of business – high risk, potentially higher reward for those who swim rather than sink.