I love freelancing — but it isn’t for everyone. To be successful at it – and happy with your life – your head has to be in the right place. You must have the right mentality. Let’s discuss the 14 components of a winning freelance mindset.
All the knowledge, preparation, and action in the world mean nothing without deep motivation. The drive to go and be freelance will sustain you and keep you committed during hard times.
Why you went freelance is the root of your motivation and should inform every decision you make. Don’t stray from your core mission. If you became self-employed to spend more time with family, for example, you probably shouldn’t say “yes” to every opportunity.
Goals help you move from a current state to a desired state. As a freelancer, they pave your journey from beginner to well-established – and everything in-between. You should regularly set and track meaningful, realistic goals. That way, you achieve your desires.
It’s really easy to operate from a place of lack or scarcity – especially during financially lean times. But you need to know deep down in your gut that there is more than enough money and other resources out there for you – and that you will attain them.
No, you shouldn’t spend willy nilly because the universe will provide. But, you should keep the faith that success is within your reach – even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment.
When you’re an employee, you typically fulfill a defined role, and work is given to you. When you freelance, you must handle every function in your business and actively seek clients. It’s a lot and can be quite daunting until you have the cash flow or momentum to outsource or scale back the hustle.
We talked about general motivation to keep you focused on the bigger picture. But having a high level of self-motivation, aka work ethic, is also vital. It’s the internal ability to propel yourself into action when no one is forcing you to do anything. Without it, you won’t get much done – and won’t be in business for long.
Related Reading: 23 Things You Need to Know Before You Start Freelancing
Unfortunately, you won’t achieve freelancing success overnight. Sorry. Be prepared for long days that feel like you’re making no progress.
You need to be OK with the process of building your future gig by gig, client by client, and testimonial by testimonial. It will be indescribably satisfying when you gain traction – but the journey will test you.
There will be days when you hate freelancing. A client will lowball you in a negotiation. A payment will be late. Your revenue stream will become a trickle. Your website will break.
Sometimes, those days may string together – and you may question your decision to go freelance. That’s where mental toughness, or grit, comes into play. You must outlast the struggle.
Every day, you’ll need to shift your focus between things like:
- completing client work
- responding to a prospect’s inquiry
- adding completed projects to your portfolio
- fixing an error on your website
- advertising your services
- and more
Mental agility, or the ability to change gears quickly and smoothly, is essential to keep your business moving forward in a timely manner.
You must be very comfortable with risk. Freelancing does have built-in income diversification because you have multiple clients. But, as a freelancer, you’re a small business owner, and most small businesses ultimately fail.
You can mitigate this risk by knowing how to budget with a variable income, maintaining a healthy cash cushion, and developing other income streams outside of your freelance business.
Everything that happens in your freelance business occurs as a result of a decision you made – or didn’t make. You need to keep operations moving and plans progressing every day. To do that, you must make choices quickly and with resolve.
The good news? Usually, you can change your mind or switch gears if needed. So take a breath, and choose the best option in the moment.
Growth and Development Focus
If you stop learning, you stagnate. And when you stagnate, your business contracts. You must be willing and able to regularly put in the time to learn new things that will keep your skills and business relevant.
You can do this by taking an online course, hiring a business coach, finding a mentor, chatting with another freelancer, attending a conference, and more.
You’re not in this alone. No one is. You need to develop and nurture a strong network of prospects, mentors, service providers, and encouragers.
You can help each other reach higher aspirations in business and in life. Believe it or not, other freelancers are usually your friends — not your competition!
We all have times when impostor syndrome rears its ugly head. You need to have confidence in yourself as a freelancer so you can tell that awful feeling where to go. If you don’t, your self-doubt will keep you playing small when you’re capable of greatness.
You need to understand yourself – and be honest when you self-reflect. Freelancing can be lonely and challenging. When you feel isolated or burnt out, you must address it right away by reaching out to others and practicing self-care. Otherwise, your chances of success and happiness will go down the drain.
Well, there you have it – the 14 components of a winning freelance mindset. Do you have them all? If you don’t, you can learn and practice them. You’ll be thinking like a successful freelancer in no time!
Learn by listening? Check out this podcast episode about the 14 components of a winning freelance mindset.