Action Cures Fear. Do Something.
Ahhh … the writer's life!
I wouldn't trade it for the world.
I get up when I want and work when I want. Some days, I spend hours writing in my favorite café; other days, I'm on my back patio or in my office. I'm less stressed than I ever was working in the corporate world.
I spend more time with my kids and more time traveling.
I haven't had a boss for more than three years.
Actually, that is a problem.
Hold on. Not having a boss is one of the main reasons we're all pursuing the writer's life, isn't it?
It's a problem because on any given day, it's hard to know exactly what to do. And no one is going to tell you. It's all up to you.
We'll come back to this in a minute.
But first, let me recap the week.
We've been talking about challenges we face as freelancers and how to overcome them. At some point, you're going to get in a slump, whether you're brand new or a professional with 20 years of experience.
Slumps can be caused by not asking for help, hitting a roadblock and accepting defeat, getting distracted by mental junk food, losing confidence, or listening to too much advice. I offered simple solutions for each.
Today's subject is a sticky point that we usually don't talk about. Having someone stand over your shoulder telling you what to do is the antithesis of freelancing.
I'm not suggesting that you want a boss. Working without any direction or supervision, however, is a serious challenge for a lot of us.
Let me give you five tips to put you on the road to increased self-discipline and productivity:
- Write out your next day each night before you go to bed. I keep it simple and just use an index card. At the end of the day, I transfer any tasks that aren't crossed off to the next day's card.
- Overbook your day. Two schools of thought on this one. Some people like the satisfaction of crossing every item off their list every day. I prefer to have more items than time to do them. Client projects take priority, and I don't miss deadlines, but I get more done by having a big list of to-do items.
- Find an accountability partner just for your schedule. This doesn't have to be a fellow writer. I have a friend who is an independent financial advisor. He works alone like I do, and we check in with each other every Friday afternoon to see how the week went. We don't have a formal weekly report or anything, but just try to encourage each other to stay on task.
- If you can, find a reasonably priced coach. I recently hired a personal trainer even though I already pay a monthly membership fee to a gym. The return has been well worth it. A good trainer or coach will get way more out of you than you would working by yourself. There's no substitute for one-on-one professional training for your body or your business.
- Do something. We're often either afraid of doing something outside our comfort zone or afraid we'll fail. Some psychologists would say it's a fear of success.
Regardless of the reason, one thing I know: action cures fear. Just do something.
If you're not sure of what to do on any given day, write a blog post. Find a project on DirectResponseJobs.com that fits your skills and niche, and apply for it. Update your LinkedIn profile with a new description and keywords (I recently got a project because a client saw my revised profile, which included a new skill).
We have a little less than three months to go in the year. While it may be too late to hit your goals for 2012, it's not too late to build momentum in the last quarter to start the new year at full cruising speed.
Pick one or two things to work on from now until the end of the year. Try focusing on learning one new skill that you can implement in the new year (for example, writing landing pages) along with putting into action now one skill you already have (say, writing autoresponders).
One last thing: write out one goal that you absolutely want to hit this year, and look at it every morning and night.
Put your head down for the rest of the year on developing one skill, implementing another one, and focusing on one goal. Then look up on December 31, and see where you are.
Is there anything I didn't address this week that I can help with? Are you in a rut from something else? I'd love to help, and I'll answer every comment. Leave a note below or privately if you'd prefer confidentiality.
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