Inspiration and motivation are fickle beasts. Though they can be nurtured, it may seem that they are just as likely to vanish in an instant as they are to stick with you when you need them. Unfortunately, both inspiration and motivation play important roles in defining your success as a freelancer.
Although the comings and goings of your inspiration may seem random, there are, in fact, a multitude of factors that contribute to your motivation, or lack thereof. Additionally, as you will soon find, being at the mercy of their whims is not an ideal way to make a living. Staying motivated is key to reaching your full potential as a freelancer.
However, before you can grasp the inner mysteries of self-motivation and inspiration, you will first need to learn how these abstract concepts are defined and influenced by your reality.
Why freelancers lose motivation
Think back to your time in school: you may recall being surrounded by people your age who just seemed to have everything together. Their grades were consistently high, they were excellent athletes, and they enjoyed a robust, fulfilling social life. Perhaps they were simply blessed with good fortune, or perhaps they had learned how to stay motivated much earlier.
Of course, this star student may have been you at some point. But if you are reading this, it is likely that you have lost your way and cannot find your way back, or you never knew the way, to begin with.
Five reasons freelancers lose motivation
Before continuing, it is important to understand that everyone has struggled with a lack of motivation or inspiration at some point in their life. You are not alone in your struggle, and many other freelancers likely share the same problems as you.
However, understanding why we tend to lose motivation or our sense of inspiration is the first crucial step toward reclaiming them.
Several things can cause a loss of motivation - these ones are the most common:
You may struggle with self-worth
Perhaps the most important factor in determining your success (or potential for success, at least) is your psychological outlook. How you view yourself and the world around you can lead to further motivation and inspiration - or it can sap them away.
Unfortunately, many people struggle with low self-worth. It can be difficult to push back when the world constantly pushes you down. Difficult, but not impossible.
Think of the way you talk to yourself. Is your self-talk negative, full of can't's and won't's? If so, you may need to exercise a little bit of brute force in quashing that forlorn voice with one that is more hopeful and positive.
To start, think of some of the negative things you tell yourself, then write them down and change them into positive sentiments. For example, "I'm incapable of doing this" becomes "I'm capable of doing this, I just need to figure out how.”
Your negative thoughts are unique, but do your best to follow this format and transform them into hopeful intents.
You may not have strong reasoning
Freelancers typically do not do what they do for fun. Working project-to-project is not exactly an ideal lifestyle in the traditional sense. However, the most successful freelancers understand why they do what they do, and they have a strong reason to keep going despite the hardships they may have to endure.
Look inwards and ask yourself why you decided to become a freelancer. If you cannot reach an answer or your answer seems weak, your reasoning needs more definition. Essentially, in order to find more motivation and inspiration, you need to have some to begin with.
If your reasoning seems weak at the moment, do not lose hope. A strong motivation lies within you; you simply need to find it first.
Start by writing down some of the reasons you took up freelancing. They need not be profound - just write until you find yourself nodding along, then stop when you find one that truly speaks to you.
You may not work under the most supportive conditions
As we all know, our environment plays a huge role in our growth and development, but just because you are not an impressionable child anymore does not mean that you are not influenced by those around you.
Simply put, if you surround yourself with negative, cynical people, you too will eventually become negative and cynical. And when you have a negative, cynical mindset, it can be difficult to compel yourself to get out of bed, let alone find motivation.
The solution here is simple: limit the amount of time you spend with these negative people, or better yet, cut them out entirely. This may be tough if you are close with them, but it is necessary to ensure your future success.
You may lead an unhealthy lifestyle
Similar to how our environment comes to define us, our habits - both good and bad - can contribute to our overall sense of motivation.
Happy people's bodies function differently from those of discontent people. Theirs are more active - they breathe faster, stand up straight, and are more involved. Emotion begets motion, but it works the other way around as well. And therein lies the solution.
If you suffer from a lack of motivation, consider correcting your bad habits. Determine how many hours of sleep you need and get them consistently. Eat three meals a day; get plenty of exercise; drink plenty of water. With a healthy lifestyle comes a healthy mind and thus a healthy source of motivation.
You may just be impatient
It is entirely possible that you can have good habits, a healthy state of mind, a supportive environment, and a strong reason for why you do the things you do and still feel unmotivated, constantly craving inspiration. If this is the case, there may be one thing holding you back: a lack of patience.
As freelancers, trying to keep sight of a goal that never seems to draw any closer to completion can be tough. When this happens, you end up doing things out of spite because it feels like you should already be where you want to be.
Practice gratitude for the things you have with the understanding that you will never have everything you could possibly want. Do not be afraid that gratefulness will beget complacency - you can be thankful for the present while still working towards the future. Achieving success is not like sprinting - it is more like running a marathon. Practice consistency and thankfulness daily, and you will be rewarded.
How to stay inspired as a freelancer
Being a freelancer entails a great degree of risk. After all, you will mostly be working project-to-project, and keeping your affairs in order can be a tough task, even if you are a veteran. With this in mind, it is difficult to stay motivated and easy to lose inspiration, but there are a few ways in which you can keep your life on course.
That said, here is a full step-by-step guide to staying motivated and inspired.
As with any job, setting goals is crucial to ensuring that you succeed in the future. Your goals need not be long-term endeavors. Instead, they can be divided up into months, then into weeks, and finally into days.
Before you do anything, sit down and think of some of the goals you hope to achieve. Start small and think of what you would like to accomplish by the end of the week, then break that down into daily tasks.
Your goal here should be to develop a checklist to refer back to and cross items off as they are completed, which can help you feel inspired. Be careful when it comes to distributing the tasks - divide them evenly, and do not place too much emphasis on a single day.
Come up with a routine
Now that you have your tasks and goals in mind, it is time to devise a schedule that will accommodate them.
Start by determining when it is that you work best, be it morning or night, then choose a suitable time to wake up and stick to it. When you wake up, do all the things you would normally do when working in an office: shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, and so on, all of which will allow you to focus on the day ahead.
Choose a designated workspace
Although you are not working in an office, having a space designated for work and working alone is still practical (and, indeed, preferable).
This workspace should not be near your bed and should be free of distractions. Ideally, it should also be close to a window to promote good airflow. Make sure that it is equipped with everything you will need during your workday, including your notebook, pens, laptop, and so on.
Set free time
By now, you are almost equipped to start working with newfound purpose and motivation. However, if you work too hard, you will end up back where you started. In order to retain your motivation, you will also need to set aside some free time.
Choose an hour of your day to simply relax and de-stress. Get outside of your workspace and enjoy some much-needed alone time.
Refer back to the lists you made
Keep everything you have written down over the course of this article in a safe, accessible place. When the going gets tough - and it will - read these lists back to yourself to remind yourself why you decided to become a freelancer and what you are working towards. Then, once you have convinced yourself of these things all over again, get back to work and keep at it.
Use an app
If it seems too difficult to keep track of everything, you can always use an app to help you. Indy's Calendar is a great tool to have on your belt as it allows you to easily schedule tasks and meetings and plan out the rest of your day accordingly. And the best part about it? It is free.
Is freelance work getting too complicated?
Use Indy to make freelance simple. The useful set of tools will make your freelance admin easier by connecting your work from proposals to payment.
By now, you should be fully equipped to deal with a lack of motivation and inspiration. Freelancing is a tough gig, but it can be just as rewarding as well, so long as you know how to stay motivated and inspired.