The Journey to a Balanced Freelance Life

by Rebecca Hass

Working as a freelancer requires a rare combination of skills. At the top of the list has to be flexibility. Freelancers need to have the unique ability to dance with the uncertainty of what work will show up and when. Often a freelancer will find himself or herself in the land of ‘feast or famine’.

When work comes, most of us say a loud YES! What else can we say when we are so well acquainted with the lean times? Because this is the way freelancing works, life balance can seem impossible for many freelancers. How can one have balance with the schedule and demands of freelancing?

But there is hope tor those of us who burn the midnight oil and can’t seem to stop working the weekends. I have five straightforward steps you can take to move towards the balance you crave.


Step One: Redefine Balance

Balance is often defined as ‘an even distribution’, which is possible if you are buying dried goods at the Bulk Barn. But not in your life. The definition that you need is slightly different. Balance is “a condition in which elements are in the correct proportions.”

Forget balance. You want a life well lived.


Step Two-What matters to me?

To discover the correct proportions you need to answer a question: What really matters to me?

Grab a pen and paper and get to work. Below is a list of values that you know from your own life.

  1. Put these in the order you are living them now. What’s getting all your time and attention?
  1. Get up, look out a window, take a deep breath and sit back down.
  1. Now, write down another list beside the first list. Put down these same values in the order you ideally would like to live them. Write what matters the most at the top of the list and continue to the least important.
  1. Compare your lists. If you are unhappy right now, you will probably see that these two lists aren’t matching up. What is fundamentally important to you might be second, third or even lower. No wonder you feel your life is unbalanced and unhappy. The more these lists match, the more satisfied and balanced you probably feel.

Important Tip: Don’t panic and start to feel bad about the disconnect you might be seeing. Your values will fall into three categories:

  1. This matters to me and I want to change it. Let’s get started!
  2. I want to change this, but now isn’t the time. (Money and romance often fall into this category)
  3. This doesn’t matter enough to change it right now (or ever)

Look at your ‘ideal’ order. Mark the values that are ready to be changed and those that aren’t. Get ready to bring more of what matters into your life by acknowledging the values ready for change.


Step Three: Getting what matters into your life.

The skill of saying Yes and No

To really understand the full power of this tool, you’ll to make another list. For this list, you’ll need two columns. One titled Yes and one titled No

Write down all the things you need to say ‘yes’ to, if you’re going to move a value higher up your list. For example: If I know that I need to bump up my family value, I might claim saying Yes to having dinner with my family 5 nights a week and Yes to making this important. Right across from this I recognize what I’m saying No to.

Yes to dinner together? No to working through dinner and eating at my desk.

Yes to family? No to guilt about not working hard enough.

As freelancers we seem to think there will be a next time, a tomorrow when we can pick up this family time or health objective. The fluid nature of our work can trick us into thinking we have a special power to bend time. But the truth is, life balance is in the little moments that happen daily. If you want to find balance, that feeling of satisfaction, then start to recognize that every Yes has a corresponding No.


Step Four: Succeed by Lowering your Standards

The reason most people never succeed in making changes in their lives, even the changes that they say really matter, is because they want it the way they’ve envisioned it and they want it now.

The classic example has to be the New Years goal to get in shape. I know I’ve started that one many times. It always results in one week of working out incredibly hard, which leads to physical pain, overwhelm and quitting. By the second week of January I’m back on my couch with a bag of chips.

Want more of what matters in your life? Lower your expectations. Ask yourself “What is the small step I can take today towards what I want?” And then actually take that small step.


Step Five: Are you hitting the ‘like’ button?

Lastly, notice how these small changes feel. Do you feel more satisfied? At the end of each day, does it feel like you spent time on things that mattered to you? Take stock. What are you glad you said Yes to? Where is a No needed? What small change can you make tomorrow that would get you closer to your ideal list?

Balance is a feeling that you’ll get when you are living life’s many components in the order that speaks to you. Start naming and most importantly, living what matters to you.


Rebecca Hass is a Certified Life Coach and she offers tools for living a more fulfilling life in her role as a  regular columnist for NXNW on CBC Radio One.  She is also a freelance writer, broadcaster and performer. You can find more tips on how to survive the freelance life at her website or follow her exploits on Twitter @rebeccahass. 



Posted on November 24, 2015 at 11:50 am by editor · · Tagged with: , ,

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