The Freelancer’s Bucket List

In the 2007 film, The Bucket List, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman star as two terminally ill men who escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die. In the process, both of them heal each other, become unlikely friends, and ultimately find the joy in life. Their list of things to do before they “kick the bucket” helps them approach their final days with a new lease on life, and they grow together as friends as well as individuals.

The message of the movie is a profound one. Life is short and you never know when you’re going to die, so why wait to do all the things you dream of doing until it’s too late? Translating this message into the realm of freelancing, the challenge becomes one of exploring all that the freelancing life has to offer and reaping the full benefits while in the midst of it, rather than looking back on this time with regrets.

In this post, I will share a few of my own personal freelancing bucket list items and encourage you to examine and begin pursuing your own.

Celebrate My Freedom

One of the main reasons I took the plunge into freelancing was the idea of complete, self-employed freedom. I could work when I wanted on the projects I wanted to and never have to report to anyone! Of course, it didn’t take long to realize that a successful freelancer often works much longer hours and more intensely than an employee ever does. It is an important pursuit to maintain the freedoms I set out to achieve in the first place. Although I don’t do it as often as I’d like, I want to celebrate and enjoy those freedoms at every possible turn.

Vacations, days off and time away are all potentially dangerous for the freelancer because any time we are not working we are not generating revenue. We don’t have paid vacations or sick days, so we have to manage our time off responsibly and carefully. Yet, we do still have the freedom to work wherever we want, depending on our technology needs.

Finding ways and places to get outside of the home office while still working is a key way to embrace these freedoms. A laptop at a local coffee shop, a notepad in a park, making business phone calls while taking a walk–these are just a few ways we can take advantage of our freedom to work when and wherever we want.

Another way to celebrate the freedom of freelancing while you can is to be a good boss and schedule your time off. I fail at this far too often, but disconnecting from work on a weekday afternoon or saving up to cover the lack of income while taking a vacation are important bucket list additions that we all should strive for.

Give My Family My Presence

For me, a huge benefit of freelancing is that I am home all the time, so I have the potential of being present in any and all family situations and happenings. The struggle I occasionally find myself in is that I can miss out on being involved in what’s going on at any given moment because I am working hard to meet a deadline or something else that comes up in relation to my work.

My family is the most important thing in the world to me, and they are the reason I work as hard as I do, but, as I have shared here before, if I spend every waking second working what is the point? My wife and children desire my attention and interest much more than my income, and although they appreciate how hard I work to provide for them, it is not what they want or need most from me.

While I am freelancing, I am determined to be present in my family. Dropping what I am doing for those that are most important to me is a bucket list item that I am constantly working to improve on.

Experience the World

I read an article recently about a web designer who telecommuted. One day he realized that he actually never dealt with his employer face to face, so he sold everything and moved to a foreign country without telling them. He travelled and explored different locations for months before his employer ever realized he was no longer living nearby! When I read this I realized it was within my realm of possibilities as a freelance web designer, and I’ve been intrigued with the idea ever since.

While I probably wouldn’t take the same route of failing to notify my clients of my departure, I have definitely added the idea of exploring and experiencing the world to my freelancing bucket list. My wife and I have always been a bit nomadic. Once our children are grown, we are planning to travel and enjoy the journey through other cultures and locations around the globe. I know far too many people who have barely ventured beyond their own state, much less to other countries, and I am determined to devour every ounce of life and its adventures around the planet while my freelancing lifestyle allows it.

What’s on YOUR Bucket List?

These are just three of my own personal bucket list items, and my hope is that they will inspire you to examine your own life and how you can experience it to the fullest. Freelancing can become all-consuming, so I hope we can all take a step back at times and re-evaluate what we are putting in and getting out of the choices we have made.

Have you made a “Freelancing Bucket List”? What are some items you are pursuing or have deemed as goals for getting the most from your life? Please share your thoughts, ideas and bucket list items in the comments.