Some people are perfectly content with an endless supply of monotonous tasks in a sterile environment if it produces a paycheck at the end of the week. Others are not so easily satisfied. They want to work on projects they align with, and work with people they are proud to support.
Freelancers choose the unpredictability of the gig economy over the stability of a 9-5 job because it gives them the freedom to choose projects they will enjoy working on throughout the day. It also gives them freedom to work whenever and wherever they want. A majority of freelancers prefer to work from Starbucks or local cafes.
Even so, the number one allure into any realm of business tends to be money. Many freelancers enjoy the work they do but are still driven by the desire to grow their bank account. They start out snagging gigs thinking one day they will build a profitable business in their niche, become a millionaire in a decade, and retire to some beachfront property.
For many who follow this path, it only takes a few years for life to become a struggle. While many push harder with their eyes on the goal of financial wealth, a few catch a glimpse of a different possibility.
There is nothing wrong with pursuing wealth, but it is not the only reason to be a freelancer. The ultimate benefit of freelancing is the ability to enjoy your life. It sounds too simple, but that is what everyone really wants – most just think money is how they will get it.
An obsession with money can tank your business quickly
Contrary to popular belief, acting like you have money will not make you rich – it will drive you into debt. Even when you are certain you will be a huge success in the future, you should not live beyond your means in the now. The world’s top entrepreneurs are frugal with their spending, but what they spend is relevant to their income. For instance, if they charter a private jet, it does not make a dent in their income.
Your business expenses should be driven by need, not desire to show off on social media. If you are a one-person show supported by a few other contractors, you do not need a showy office. Coworking is less expensive, and keeps you out of the cycle of increasing operating expenses. If you generally earn $25 or more per hour, you will not have to work an extra 50 hours each month just to pay for your workspace. It is also a better environment than sharing an office suite when you need to be creative.
Until and unless your actual operations demand it, you do not need a 1,500-square foot office with fancy, modern furniture and a $5,000-a-month overhead. You do not need to drive a new BMW with a $500-a-month payment, either.
If you want to post photos from your office with bay front views and expensive chandeliers dangling in front of the camera, you will get plenty of attention. Though, no matter how fancy your office is, Instagram comments will not make you successful. It is a complete waste of cash, and a quick way to sink into debt.
The sooner you drop status items from your list of goals, the better.
Money is not what anyone ultimately wants
You only need one marketing course to realize people are driven, at their core, by the desire to be happy. People want something because they think it will make them happy. A five-year-old wants a new bicycle for the same reason a twenty-seven-year-old entrepreneur wants a six-figure business. Both want to be happy, and they have got different ways they think they will achieve it.
Money does not bring the lasting fulfillment many expect to achieve in business, but the temporary high creates an endless cycle of chasing it. There is always something bigger and better on the horizon.
In Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Socrates told Dan, “if you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold onto it forever.” This is true and applies in the business world. People become millionaires only to discover happiness cannot be bought while others lose their fortunes and fall into despair. It is an unfortunate reflection of how much emphasis is wrongly placed on monetary success being the source of fulfillment.
Know when to let go of superficial goals
If self-fulfillment is your trip, then freelancing is your all-access pass, provided you are willing to drop superficial goals. Instead of placing your happiness on dollar bills, pursue your passion instead. If you have never dared to pursue your ultimate passion, you are missing out on a serious dose of contentment money cannot buy.