Entrepreneurship is a journey. Depending on what day it is, this fact can either be frustrating, rewarding, an incredibly exhilarating ride, or all three of these. I have uncles who have been successful in entrepreneurship for many years and even now, I still watch them growing, evolving, moving forward and incorporating new ideas. This is truly fascinating to me, primarily because I lack the ability to sit still 🙂 which means that entrepreneurship is just the right amount of thrill and adventure.
The problem with the journey’ic nature of entrepreneurship and freelancing is that there are pockets in time during which there is a level of discouragement. Maybe your suppliers have delayed, maybe your profits are low, maybe one more person has told you to get a “real” job. Regardless, there are a number of reasons that would lead to discouragement, and the duration of this discouragement can last from a few minutes to a couple of days. It sucks. So, what to do?
1. Resist the Urge to Compare yourself with other People
Yeah, yeah, yeah…I have been told that comparing oneself with others is a good measure to determine how far you’ve come or how well you’re doing but, I disagree. To find out how far you’ve come, the most accurate measure is to look at where you have come from. Comparing yourself with other people is an inaccurate measure because the conditions for growth have not been the same between you and the person(s) that you are comparing yourself with. So instead…
Look at where you were three months ago, versus where you are now. For instance, I am currently working on a ghost-writing-book-project that I did not have three months ago. I also landed a gig to refurbish the online image and website pages for Dr. Melvin D’lima; yet another gig that I didn’t have then. When you’re down, it is easy to look at all the things that you still need to accomplish (which in my case is, I really want more retainer gigs!). Anyway, it is easy to see where we are yet to go, and lose sight of how far we have grown.
2. Recognize and Celebrate the Small Wins
For the first couple of months (read: many, many months) when I started freelancing writing, I did not really take myself too seriously. I was winging it. I did whatever projects came my way, mostly because I didn’t know better…and also because I was waaay too focused on paying the bills. I have grown. I see my business as a business now, and I treat it as such, too. One of the things that helps me to do this, is to write down every week, a list of things that I would like to accomplish. The list has to be manageable, three to five items. This helps to maintain my focus, in addition to being able to measure and celebrate (yaay!) my progress at the end of the week. The items on the list usually focus on:
- Working on the projects that I already have
- Marketing to and/or contacting new/potential clients
- Writing something that is just for me. A free-flow of sorts which I may not even proof-read.
That last one is particularly important to me because it can be either cathartic (if I have something weighing on my mind), or just a free-flow of ideas that I can incorporate in my work.
3. Take Care of Yourself
As an entrepreneur, especially if you’re a solopreneur, you are your most important asset. Your wholeness enables you to work well and deliver the best product and/or service to your clients. Some important areas are:
- Feeding well: Both in terms of keeping a healthy diet, as well as eating regularly
- Sleep and rest: Take breaks throughout the day, and enough sleep-time during the night.
- Social time: Go out and talk to people. Meet with friends. Share a laugh, a movie, cake (yum!). Indulge in an activity that you enjoy (and that has got nothing to do with your work). Preferably one that involves other people.
The most important thing to remember is that there is a bigger reason why you went into entrepreneurship or freelancing. For me, it provides the freedom and opportunity to engage my mind creatively. This is it. There is no Plan B that will give me the same…ooomph! So when discouragement comes (and it does), it is in my best interest to kick it to the curb; or better still, ward it off before it gets to me. The three tips I’ve mentioned above have proved helpful to me thus far. How do you ward discouragement off? Share in the comments’ section below.