I don’t think I chose the freelance life, I think the freelance life chose me.
While other kids were playing little league, I was trying to build a two story colonial house for my teddy bears out of logs, complete with shutters. That never really panned out so well (lack of nails maybe?!), but it taught me that I am most at home in the wild, without the road map laid out for me.
If something failed, I tried again. If people thought I was crazy, it didn’t faze me much. Naturally, upon entering the “normal” adult world of office jobs, I was more than a bit shocked.
I began to pursue freelance design on the side, with the intention of going in that direction one day. The more I did it, the closer that day seemed.
Along my six year journey through one full-time and two-part time jobs, the following signs led me to finally make the leap. If any of these resonate with you, the edge of the cliff might be closer than you think.
Start packing your parachute, and get ready to jump!
1) You’re cheating on your desk job
Have you ever snuck into the office bathroom to make a secret freelance call from the porcelin desk chair? Or used work time to send a quick reply or proof to a freelance client?
Yep, me too.
I still needed my day job at that point, so it was a risky game to play. It can certainly lead to trouble, especially if you signed a non-compete agreement (I didn’t luckily).
It really is unfair to pursue your personal business on another company’s time and property. Eventually, you WILL get caught as you attempt to juggle both acts. That is NOT how you want to leave a company.
So, if you find yourself in a torrid affair with your freelance business while at your full time job, take it as a sign to make some changes!
2) You’re bad at normal tasks
In grade school I used to get in trouble for standing at my desk. Yes, standing there, next to the chair while the teacher lectured. “Tamara, sit down!” I hated sitting; I tried, but it was so unnatural for me.
As I got older and took my seat in office land, I realized I honestly struggled with administrative tasks that most people find “easy.” I WANTED to do well, but I’d miss all these things that other people were seeing as an issue.
Example: in my designs, everything must be perfect. I measure my documents to the millimeter. But I’m totally undisturbed by that two day-old coffee cup sitting on top of that jumble of paper.
I would “get in trouble” for slip ups like this all the time in my normal jobs. It made me feel small, and stupid.
But then I realized I am neither. I am just different. I have different strengths. (And you do, too.)
I can design a mean logo and convince a client to pay me for it. I can stay dedicated to my goal long after others made excuses. Why should I keep putting myself into situations where my weaknesses are utilized and my strengths tamped down?
If you feel as though you just don’t DO well in normal work environments despite your best intentions, maybe it’s because you DON’T! And that is OK! Take it as a sign to pursue something that makes you feel worthwhile every day.
3) Changes you’ve made are getting you no closer to your freelance goals
The final push I needed to go freelance came when I started a second, minimum-wage “part-time” job with 11-7, M-F hours. (I didn’t want to be “that person” who didn’t have a job.)
I could kiss my design business farewell. With hours like that, I wasn’t getting any closer to my ultimate goal. No time to accommodate clients during normal business hours before the shift, and no time after.
I sat there and I cried.
Then I took it as a sign. Now was the time. Now was when I would put 100% into my freelance business.
I quit and never looked back.
4) You honestly don’t want to live an “average” life
Some people work the same job their entire lives. We all know one or two. Twenty years in with the company, a nice pension, security, stability. That’s cool. If they are 100% genuinely happy with the life they live, more power to them! I however, am not this person.
For a creative like myself, I want to explore. I want to try new things. I want my potential to have no limits. I worked to design my entire life around those goals. I want to be able to travel, to meet so many people that come so uniquely into my life. I want everyday to be something different and I never want to stop learning.
I am willing to give up stability (but really, how safe is your job?) for that chance.
I’m not ashamed to say….I don’t want a fancy car in my two-car garage like I’m supposed to!
If you don’t want that either take that as a sign, it’s time to seriously start budgeting and planning out your freelance career.
“AVERAGE” is a choice. Choose more for yourself. If you can’t kick that desire out of your system, chances are you never will. Let it manifest and lead you to jump into your freelance career!