The following is a guest post from Christina Nellemann, a graphic/web designer, writer and blogger from Northern Nevada who travels the world and attends Burning Man. Her work can be found at Feline Design.
You’ve worked and slaved (maybe for decades) for your freedom. You’ve saved up your money, made contacts and connections, and — most of all — you’ve beaten the fear that plagues most people who want to quit their job. You’re free and working on what and when you want.
Now comes the guilt.
As I write this, I’m celebrating over a month of freedom from my full-time job. I worked for 15 years for other companies and now I’m running my own freelance design and writing business. For the past year my schedule was like this: wake up at 5am, work full time for eight or nine hours, come home, grab some food and go right back to work on my freelance job until 10pm. That type of schedule is enough to turn anyone into a workaholic and when it comes time to leave the full time job, there tends to be a bit more free time available.
Along with this newly acquired freedom often comes guilty feelings:
- “I really should be working harder ” (I’m up at 6am already working on writing jobs).
- “I should apply for all the jobs I can” (I’m actually getting overwhelmed with offers).
- “I’m not getting enough billable hours” (freelancing is totally different from a full-time, full-pay job).
There’s no doubt in the first few weeks of your new life that guilt will begin to nibble at your day. You’ll chastise yourself for not living a “regular life” because you’re not making as much money, not working all the time and not getting enough respect from peers and family. However, you can waylay that guilt by keeping the following tips in mind.
1. Give Yourself Some Credit
You’ve probably already worked hard to become free and you will continue to work hard to stay free. Give yourself some credit for the work you’ve already put in to making this new life.
If you’ve saved up enough money to cover the lean times, you already have the discipline to work hard on your own business. Now you also have the freedom and time to work on those multiple streams of income. Remember, everything doesn’t have to be done today.
If you do start feeling guilty about the money issue, remember that not all the work you do will make you money directly. New relationships, communications, planning, ideas and brainstorming help your business in other ways — not just the bottom line.
2. Make Guilt Work for You
You know that nagging feeling of guilt when you should be working on a project and you’re busy watching reruns of “The Walking Dead”? Make that nagging feeling work for you and get off your butt. Guilt about not making enough money keeps you out looking for jobs and new connections. It keeps you away from the latest YouTube videos or photobombing pics.
Some days are going to be more productive and lucrative than others, but keep yourself motivated every day with the many tips featured here on Leaving Work Behind.
3. Set Boundaries
You are bound to get comments from family and friends who think you sit around all day doing nothing. To the people who head to a corporate environment each day, sitting at a laptop in your pajamas looks just like slacking. But what they don’t realize is that you probably work harder than they do. Even away from the computer, you’re constantly thinking up new ideas, concepts and projects.
When I left my full-time job, family members would tell our friends I had retired. I wish! I had to work even harder to convince them I was not sitting around in a rocking chair all day.
In truth, many people will be jealous about your new found life and won’t be able to admit it. Suppress their thoughts and comments and be sure to set regular hours when you can’t leave to help clean your friend’s messy garage.
4. Find Your Groove
Your freelance hours may differ somewhat from your full time hours. Your most productive hours are not dictated to you by your boss, but by your own body and mind. They could be from early morning to mid morning or from 10pm to midnight.
Personally speaking, I’m up at 6am writing when my mind is clear, but my body begins to shut down around 3pm. Jarrett Bellini of CNN decided that 2:55pm is his most unproductive time of the day and I can relate to that.
No matter what your daily schedule is, what doesn’t change is the need for regular breaks and vacations. Even with guilt, your excitement could get in the way of how you take care of yourself. Get away from the office or computer and take a daily walk, hike or nap. It’s tempting to keep the guilt at bay by working every day. Avoid that guilt, but keep your work antennae up for new contacts and inspiration — they can come from anywhere.
5. Surround Yourself With Other “Freedom Fighters”
Friends and family who have “regular” jobs may not understand your guilt, but the freelance writer or designer down the street is your new best friend.
Get together regularly with other people who work for themselves and ask how they set up their day and deal with any guilty or unproductive feelings. The longer someone has been in business for themselves, the less guilt they tend to feel.
Ditching the full-time job and working for yourself is not “weird” any more. It’s the new way of work. However, it’s still not the norm in many social circles and explaining what you do without feeling guilty might be one of the first steps in your new work life. Good luck!
Photo Credit: 30dagarmedanalhus