Is a Balanced Lifestyle Really Even Possible for a Freelancer?

The three motivators that cause most freelancers to start freelancing are a search for balance in their life, a desire to build and expand a business, or a desire to earn more money.

All of these motivations can be achieved through freelancing, but it is often the first one–a desire for balance–that seems to be the most elusive for many freelancers. And often, balance seems incompatible with the other motivators. It may even seem impossible.

With the many hats that most freelancers must wear and the huge amount of online advice available to the typical freelancer, the goal of lifestyle balance can seem discouragingly out of reach. When you’re a freelancer, there’s no way around it. There’s simply a lot to do.

In this post, I’m going to focus on achieving balance as a freelancer. I’ll share a few questions that will help you determine if you’re really doing all that you can to balance your freelancing with your life. The answers may surprise you and ultimately, help you to find more balance.

Question 1: Who Are You Listening To?

The first question to ask is “who am I listening to?” Whose advice are you trying to follow?

Now, I’m not talking about whether the individual dispensing advice is qualified or not (although that’s also very important to discover). What I’d like you to examine this time is whether or not the advisor’s business goals and motivation are aligned with your own.

Over time, I’ve discovered that the advice of some very qualified folks doesn’t work well for me simply because we have completely different goals for our businesses. It’s most effective to choose qualified mentors whose goals and motivations are similar to your own.

Question 2: Who Really Runs Your Business?

The next question to ask yourself is “who is running my freelancing business?” Too many freelancers let their clients run their freelancing business.

Yes, we work for our clients–but as freelancers, we do have the power to negotiate terms that are favorable to us. That is one of the things that sets us apart from employees.

Yet, some freelancers fail to negotiate. They simply accept each client’s terms, as they are presented, without question.

If you’re looking for balance, it’s important that you fit your work into a reasonable amount of time. You can’t do that if you always say “yes” to projects with unreasonable timeframes or with too little pay.

Fortunately, I’ve discovered that most clients are willing to do some negotiation on most projects (within reason). So, don’t be afraid to ask a client for reasonable adjustments to a project during the acceptance phase.

Question 3: Have You Set Your Boundaries?

Another factor that keeps a freelancer’s life unbalanced is not having clear boundaries about what work they will not accept. As a freelancer, you should know what type of projects you will not do–and stick to your guns in refusing bad projects.

Here are some common boundaries that freelancers set:

  • No rush work
  • No projects that pay below x
  • No projects of type x
  • No vacation or holiday work

Of course, the specific boundaries will vary, depending on the freelancer.

If you don’t set boundaries, you may wind up accepting all work that comes your way–including projects that really are not good for your life or for your business.

Question 4: How Organized Are You, Really?

It takes time to be disorganized. If your goal is to find more balance in your life, the last thing you need to be doing is fumbling around looking for an invoice you misplaced, a client phone number you lost, or a resource you want to use.

Yes, it takes a little bit of initial time to set up an efficient organizational system, but the time spent getting organized is time well spent compared to the time and money that being disorganized can cost you. Don’t let disorganization derail your freelancing goal of balance.

Some Words of Encouragement

Of course, there will be some times during your freelancing journey that you are closer to your goal than others. In fact, there may even be times that you decide to put your goal of balance aside and focus on something more immediate. You may even change your primary freelancing motivation to something else. That is all okay.

These ups and downs happen to all of us. Don’t let an extraordinarily busy period (or an extraordinarily slow period) in your business get you down. Instead, just keep working towards your goal using the best methods and tools that you have. In the end, it’s not a single day (or even a single week) that determines how balanced your freelancing lifestyle is overall.

Your Turn

I hope that this post has helped you discover how to make a balanced freelancing life possible for you.

Do you struggle to balance the demands of your freelancing business with the demands of your busy life? What are some of the techniques that you’ve used to find more balance in your freelancing lifestyle?

Share your answers in the comments.

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