Lately I have been surrounded by close friends, colleague’s, and mentees who either have recently left their full time jobs to pursue a 100% freelance career (some by choice, and some by force), or they are dying to take that leap but are nervous (or petrified) to do it because there seems to be no visible safety net or stable reassurance they will be ok financially. Having been 100% freelance since 2003, my heart goes out to those who are struggling with this decision, and gets excited for those who are taking on courageousness and walking into that great unknown for the first time. Working on this side of the fence for such a long time I know the benefits of being your own boss and the advantages of creating your own business. But I also know how bumpy it can be and the new way of thinking that one needs to learn to be able to circumvent the bumps. This way of thinking cannot really be taught except through experience because everyone's journey is different, but there are definitely some standard steps you can responsibly take that may make the process easier. In my experience and in observing others do it, these following steps are vital:
1. Forget about the “Safety Net”, it does NOT exist.
2. The scarcity of jobs is not out there, it’s in your head.
3. Be a responsible risk taker - prepare yourself for the jump.
4. Be ready before you’re ready: The Quantum Leap Effect.
5. Hold yourself accountable, do your best and don’t give up.
Now it is imperative that your MIND is in the right state BEFORE you even start attempting all that you need to DO...otherwise you are building great things on a shaky foundation, with high probability for collapse. So in this article we will focus on the first two steps to get you on your way. Once you are grounded in those you can take the next steps...
#1. Forget about the “Safety Net”, it does NOT exist.
Most people who are used to having a "day job"- even if they hate it and only make just enough money to get by- consider it to have a “safety net”. The safety net is really just the perception of stability and a regular paycheck. When they start to consider leaving a day job, they often want assurance of a smooth transition from one safety net to another. Whether its from one shit job to the next, or from an ok job to an amazing job, there is some idea of safety waiting for them. Those who are considering freelancing full time also want to be assured that they go when the time is right, when there is a scenario with a new safety net to jump into. Unfortunately the idea of this net is a total myth. To be honest there is no security in any job, but there is definitely no invisible net that will catch you should your freelance jobs not pan out. At any given moment the world, society, financial climate can change…sometimes you can sense it, and sometimes you cannot. The one constant in any scenario- “stable” job or freelance is YOU. You make a choice to either be proactive in your fate or at the mercy of the tides.
Too often I see people use the “safety net” idea for the excuse why they don’t leave their job. It’s their back door that explains why they continue to stay in a job they have outgrown, that doesn’t feed their soul, and does not fully utilize their talents. Yet all the while they continue to complain about how much it sucks. So just know that you can stop using that excuse because the more you put it out into the universe that you are unhappy where you are, but are unwilling to leave, the universe finds a way to answer your prayers and you could get sacked, and that same illusion of the “safety net” evaporates. You are the one who can dictate whether you are safe or not. Start by eliminating the myth from your mind that you need to be “safe”, and focus on who you need to be to create the work you want to be doing.
#2. The scarcity of jobs is not out there, its in your head.
Now these first two steps are HUGE and involve changing some deep seeded perceptions, so it'll take some practice! I would like to invite you to do a simple exercises that could support you in this mind shift, and make it fun::
- Take out a clean sheet of paper. Write at the top in bold letters "As a Freelance Makeup Artist, I can spend my days...." and continue to brainstorm a fun (but realistic) list of all the things you would be doing if you were your own boss. This isn't just a fantasy exercise...this is a "for real" exercise. This will support you in getting into the mind of a freelancer...the options you have consist of the things you would need to do on an everyday basis, the opportunities that would be available for you, and your family. But here is the twist: write it in the present tense! For example, as opposed to "I would be booked on a $500 photo shoot without worrying about taking off of work", you'd say "I got booked to do a $500 photo shoot, thank goodness I'm available!". Or "When I have my next day off, I can update my website with new images". Or "I can go to the park and read a book today, because my next job isn't for another two days". So BE a Freelancer for the 20 minutes you spend on this. If you get stuck, get out of your head and just have fun. Be sure to read it aloud to yourself when you are done.
I really want you to focus on these two huge steps (and do the exercise!), so I'm saving up steps 3, 4, & 5 for my next post. See you in two weeks! Please share in the comments of anything that came up for you in the exercise, and don’t forget to read what the amazing Jessica Padilla has to say about her recent experience of becoming a freelancer in this past year.