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The Lie-In, the Watch & the Half-Empty Wardrobe

The Lie-In, the Watch & the Half-Empty Wardrobe

     

    If you’re thinking about becoming a self-employed freelance writer, you need to weigh up the pros and cons.

    Certain authorities on the subject will describe and exaggerate the positives – working the hours you choose, working from home, working in your pyjamas, working on assignments you prefer – without filling you in on the negatives. And make no mistake about it: there are plenty of them.

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    It takes a particular type of individual to spend the whole day working in isolation. Many have tried and failed, simply because they require the company of others. They need to be in the presence of other people, to have someone else to talk to, to debate ideas with, to give them encouragement or just to tell them what to do.

     

     

    Freelancers can work at a pace that suits them, can take breaks whenever they want to, can enjoy walks or drives in the country when time and weather permit. But most freelancers have to work hard to earn enough to get by, and they can’t do that if they’re out swanning around all day. They need to be disciplined and organized or their careers are doomed.

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    They can enjoy a lie-in every so often if they’re so inclined. Starting work at 8 or 8.30 in the morning probably won’t make a huge difference to the average freelancer, especially if the office is just across the hall. A two-hour session at 3 in the afternoon can be just as productive as at any other time of the day. Other people prefer a solid stint in the early hours of the morning before the rest of the world intrudes. It doesn’t really matter when you work, as long as you do.

    It’s a Job
    Just like any other “job” the freelancer has to produce the goods. The work might be more pleasant than another person’s but it’s equally as time-consuming and demanding. There’s still the potential for stress, anxiety, and frustration, although a brisk walk along the canal can help to get rid of some of these issues.

    According to WebMD sources, job-related stress is caused by a variety of factors, including:

    • Lack of control – the biggest cause of stress in the normal workplace
    • Too much responsibility – it’s often hard to say “no” to bosses face to face
    • Too little job satisfaction – if your work isn’t rewarding it can make you depressed and miserable
    • Lack of support –workers are often left to their own devices, only getting feedback when there’s a problem and receiving little or no real support
    • Poor working conditions – badly lit rooms, noisy environments, long hours and infrequent breaks can lead to a whole range of health problems

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    Naturally you’d expect a freelance writer working from home to have a comfortable chair in a well-lit room, a sturdy desk with ample working space, a bookcase or two with a good supply of reference books, and a decent computer. You’d expect him or her to have control over the types of assignments accepted and fulfilled. You’d expect him or her to experience job satisfaction to varying degrees, depending on the subject chosen, the enjoyment writing about it, and the amount of remuneration.

    It simply wouldn’t make sense for any freelancer to have to endure poor working conditions or settle for work that’s dissatisfying. After all, you can get that just about anywhere. Despite the fact that you frequently have to tout for business to keep projects and finances flowing smoothly, working for yourself is supposed to be liberating and enjoyable. If it’s not, you’re doing something wrong.

    Freelance writers can work just about anywhere. If the office space begins to feel stale or claustrophobic, there’s always the local Internet café. If a particular job is tedious and draining, a walk in the woods with a notebook can help clear the brain and provide much-needed inspiration.

    No More Clock-Watching
    Working as a freelance writer from home was the best thing I ever did. As soon as I started, I took off my watch. I haven’t worn one in five years. I don’t have as many lie-ins as I’d like, but that’s because I can’t wait to get up and get to work. Weekends are precious, though, and work is rarely allowed to intrude.

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    As for my wardrobe, it consists of little more than the bare essentials (no pun intended). I don’t need “business” clothes for every day of the week, so most of what I wear is casual or semi-casual. If I need to meet clients face to face I wear something smart, always conscious that they’re paying me to write and not to appear in a commercial. Most of my work comes to me online, so I often don’t meet the people I write for.

    Conclusion
    Working for yourself isn’t a piece of cake. You get to be your own boss, but that means you have to continually motivate yourself. No-one else is going to do it. Either you work hard or you fail.

    You need to balance your work life with your social life, or one will take over the other. You need to make sure the work you do is worth doing in the first place, and that the time you put in earns you a decent amount of compensation. You need to be determined to succeed, willing to learn, patient, committed, optimistic and resilient. You need to believe in yourself whole-heartedly and be willing to work to meet deadlines, even when the sun is splitting the rocks just outside your window.

    If you can do these things, your career will likely go from strength to strength, and then you can buy as many pairs of pyjamas as you want. Whether you choose to work in them or not is up to you.

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    Last Updated on January 2, 2020

    How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

    How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

    Over time, we all gather a set of constricting habits around us—ones that trap us in a zone of supposed comfort, well below what our potential would allow us to attain. Pretty soon, such habits slip below the level of our consciousness, but they still determine what we think that we can and cannot do—and what we cannot even bring ourselves to try. As long as you let these habits rule you, you’ll be stuck in a rut.

    Like the tiny, soft bodied creatures that build coral reefs, habits start off small and flexible, and end up by building massive barriers of rock all around your mind. Inside the reefs, the water feels quiet and friendly. Outside, you think it’s going to be rough and stormy. There may be sharks. But if you’re to develop in any direction from where you are today, you must go outside that reef of habits that marks the boundaries of your comfort zone. There’s no other way. There’s even nothing specially wrong with those habits as such. They probably worked for you in the past.

    But now, it’s time to step over them and go into the wider world of your unused potential. Your fears don’t know what’s going to be out there, so they invent monsters and scary beasts to keep you inside.

    Nobody’s born with an instruction manual for life. Despite all the helpful advice from parents, teachers and elders, each of us must make our own way in the world, doing the best we can and quite often getting things wrong.

    Messing up a few times isn’t that big a deal. But if you get scared and try to avoid all mistakes by sticking with just a few “tried and true” behaviors, you’ll miss out on most opportunities as well.

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    Lots of people who suffer from boredom at work are doing it to themselves. They’re bored and frustrated because that’s what their choices have caused them to be. They’re stuck in ruts they’ve dug for themselves while trying to avoid making mistakes and taking risks. People who never make mistakes never make anything else either.

    It’s time to pin down the habits that have become unconscious and are running your life for you, and get rid of them. Here’s how to do it:

    1. Understand the Truth about Your Habits

    They always represent past successes. You have formed habitual, automatic behaviors because you once dealt with something successfully, tried the same response next time, and found it worked again. That’s how habits grow and why they feel so useful.

    To get away from what’s causing your unhappiness and workplace blues, you must give up on many of your most fondly held (and formerly successful) habits. and try new ways of thinking and acting. There truly isn’t any alternative. Those habits are going to block you from finding new and creative ideas. No new ideas, no learning. No learning, no access to successful change.

    2. Do Something—Almost Anything—Differently and See What Happens

    Even the most successful habits eventually lose their usefulness as events change the world and fresh responses are called for. Yet we cling on to them long after their benefit has gone.

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    Past strategies are bound to fail sometime. Letting them become automatic habits that take the controls is a sure road to self-inflicted harm.

    3. Take Some Time out and Have a Detailed Look at Yourself—With No Holds Barred

    Discovering your unconscious habits can be tough. For a start, they’re unconscious, right? Then they fight back.

    Ask anyone who has ever given up smoking if habits are tough to break. You’ve got used to them—and they’re at least as addictive as nicotine or crack cocaine.

    4. Be Who You Are

    It’s easy to assume that you always have to fit in to get on in the world; that you must conform to be liked and respected by others or face exclusion. Because most people want to please, they try to become what they believe others expect, even if it means forcing themselves to be the kind of person they aren’t, deep down.

    You need to start by putting yourself first. You’re unique. We’re all unique, so saying this doesn’t suggest that you’re better than others or deserve more than they do.

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    You need to put yourself first because no one else has as much interest in your life as you do; and because if you don’t, no one else will. Putting others second means giving them their due respect, not ignoring them totally.

    Keeping up a self-image can be a burden. Hanging on to an inflated, unrealistic one is a curse. Give yourself a break.

    5. Slow Down and Let Go

    Most of us want to think of ourselves as good, kind, intelligent and caring people. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes it isn’t.

    Reality is complex. We can’t function at all without constant input and support from other people.

    Everything we have, everything we’ve learned, came to us through someone else’s hands. At our best, we pass on this borrowed existence to others, enhanced by our contribution. At our worst, we waste and squander it.

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    So recognize that you’re a rich mixture of thoughts and feelings that come and go, some useful, some not. There’s no need to keep up a façade; no need to pretend; no need to fear of what you know to be true.

    When you face your own truth, you’ll find it’s an enormous relief. If you’re maybe not as wonderful as you’d like to be, you aren’t nearly as bad as you fear either.

    The truth really does set you free; free to work on being better and to forgive yourself for being human; free to express your gratitude to others and recognize what you owe them; free to acknowledge your feelings without letting them dominate your life. Above all, you’ll be free to understand the truth of living: that much of what happens to you is no more than chance. It can’t be avoided and is not your fault. There’s no point in beating yourself up about it.

    Final Thoughts

    What is holding you in situations and actions that no longer work for you often isn’t inertia or procrastination. It’s the power of habitual ways of seeing the world and thinking about events. Until you can let go of those old, worn-out habits, they’ll continue to hold you prisoner.

    To stay in your comfort zone through mere habit, or—worse still—to stay there because of irrational fears of what may lie outside, will condemn you to a life of frustration and regret.

    If you can accept the truth about the world and yourself, change whatever is holding you back, and get on with a fresh view on life, you’ll find that single action lets you open the door of your self-imposed prison and walk free. There’s a marvelous world out there. You’ll see, if you try it!

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    Featured photo credit: teigan rodger via unsplash.com

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