This past fall, I had the opportunity to contribute on article to the Fear Confessions series over at Organized Creatives (thanks Krystal for having me). My confessed fear was being afraid of torrential downpours of the creative kind. Even since that featured was published back in October, I’ve experienced both the good and bad kind of downpours, so I thought I’d share that essay here on Veda House with a few amendments.
I’m afraid of torrential downpours (the creative kind).
Shared By: Krystle Lilliestierna ON OCTOBER 14, 2014
If you know me on a more personal level, you’ll know that I frequently talk about missing my calling to be a professional (paid) storm chaser. I’ve always loved watching thunderstorms roll in and secretly hope I get to experience the beauty of a mid-western tornado…only if no one is hurt in the process. Knowing this, it might be peculiar to read that I’m afraid of torrential downpours. How silly is that!
I should clarify a few things. When I’m talking about downpours, I’m referencing the phrase “when it rains, it pours.” I should also note that we aren’t talking about a delightful rain shower here, we’re talking about the “when it rains, it pours in a bad flood kind of way that destroys everything you’ve been building…” kind of sprinkle.
As a freelance designer, I jumped into this career knowing perfectly well that the job title comes with a lot of uncertainty. I’m constantly terrified that the struggles of running my own business will evolve into something I can’t keep grasp of. I’m afraid that if I lose one client due to budget conflicts, that I’ll lose ALL my clients to budget conflicts. I’m afraid that if I am unable to regain inspiration for an upcoming project, that I’ll lose my inspiration for everything future project. I’m afraid that if I make one huge mistake, that the result will negatively impact everything that follows.
I know all of this sounds a bit extreme and maybe I’m exaggerating just a bit, but the fear of getting stuck in a downpour is debilitating. The phrase “when it rains, it pours” has proven to be true in my life time and time again so I have a few tips that might help weather the storm. Let’s also remember that it can shower a whole lot of “awesome” (aka: paying work) too. Those of you consumed with work and drowning in the process know exactly what I’m talking about.
Tips for the good and bad kinds of downpours after the jump!
A few tips for the bad kind of downpour:
Plan for the worst, but hope for the best.
I think it’s really important to keep one foot in reality at all times just so you aren’t thrown for a loop when something doesn’t pan out the way you envisioned it. For me, scheduling a few clients months in advance and saving a little more from each paycheck has really helped when my schedule gets disrupted.
This too shall pass.
Not all downpours or tornados can last forever, right? So grab an umbrella or hefty rain jacket and weather the storm. I have found that pursuing personal projects that I’m extremely passionate about can help redirect my attention towards things that I can control. Always remember, “This too shall pass.”
Ask for help.
When times get a little too overwhelming (or even underwhelming), this is the perfect opportunity to tap into to your network of friends and family. Gaining an outside perspective might be the only thing you need to spark your motivation. You’ll be amazed how many people come out of the woodworks offering to help when you simply ask for assistance or guidance.
Keep an eye out for rainbows.
Be prepared for what I like to call the “reverse effect.” This is when the skies clear, the planets align and you are found with more work or more inspiration than you know what to do with. This is plus side of Newton’s Third Law “for every action, there is an equal and opposite re-action.” Be aware of this inevitable truth and try to ease yourself back into a comfortable balance of steady work. Knowing your limits on both ends of success is a really powerful tool in crafting the perfect workflow for your business.
A few tips for the good kind of downpour:
Try to think about today only.
Worry about the future and what tomorrow holds can be just as terrifying as not having a constant paycheck, so try really hard to only focus on today’s tasks at hand. Make a list starting with AM tasks, followed by PM tasks. Be realistic when you make that list and use it as a guide to move through your day. Don’t forget to put “eat lunch” on that list!
Buffer in wiggle room.
If you know you’re approaching your busy season, buffer in a little more time into your timelines. Instead of a week turn around time, make it a week and a half. This allows for you to keep up with the fast moving pace while still coming up for air. Your clients will understand. You’re the expert they’ve hired to help them through the process.
Tap into your network of other creatives.
My most important freelance resource is my creative network. Build your network slowly and naturally because this group of people will be you’re biggest fans and most likely your partners in crime at some point. When projects get a bit too heavy and you’re needing an extra hand, ask your network of creatives if they’d be interested in tag teaming the project. It’s usually a win-win for both of you.
Learn from past experiences.
I know this sounds a little like a duh statement, but it’s one of the most powerful things you can do as a self-employed individual…especially when it comes to knowing your limits and boundaries. Personally, I’ve found my sweet spot to be 3 paying clients at a time..the 4th being maintaining this blog. I have had up to 6 clients at one time and let me tell you what…the paycheck seems worth it until you’re so stressed out you don’t even care. Find you sweet spot and stick to it…even if a pretty paycheck is taunting you from the other side.
I hope these tips and suggestions help along the way. If you have any more useful tips, please put them down in the comments sections 🙂