I have a secret. I cheat.
A few years ago, I decided to become a freelancer. With a strong business background and plenty of skills, expertise and knowledge, I had exactly what it takes to make it. But I didn’t just make it. I wanted to make it big.
I got off to the right start. I paid attention, I researched, I learned, I applied my skills, my talent, and my charm. I worked hard to make a name for myself and worked harder to create a solid reputation. I worked hard on building my business and pursuing my dreams.
I did everything – literally. I promoted, marketed, did customer service, maintained the books, planned, plotted and strategized. Oh, yeah, and I worked, too. I had personal projects and client projects and more ideas than I had brainpower.
It wasn’t long before I realized I was going to end up where many freelancers are today.
I ended up tired. Really tired. I worked long hours every day, seven days a week. I had to – big dreams take big workweeks, right? Besides, I was a business owner. This is what it was all about.
My family and friends complained that I was always holed up tapping away at the computer. “Take a break,” they urged. “Stop working so hard. You’re going to burn out!”
Okay. I was all for that. I sure could use a break. When I asked who’d pay the bills while I went on vacation or who would help me cut down my workload yet still make financial ends meet, everyone shuffled their feet and looked the other way.
People talk a lot about the freelancing dream, the one where you leave corporate cubicles so you can lounge around eating chips, watching movies when you felt like it, or playing in the sun just because you can.
Personally, I think that’s a crock.
I know many freelancers, online business owners, and entrepreneurs who burn out on a regular basis. They run like hamsters in the wheel, scrambling all the time and rushing through their lives because that’s all they know.
For a while, that was all I knew too. I went back to working hard, scrambling to get everything done, burning the candle at both ends, and isolating myself. I felt like if I stepped away from my business, it would crash.
One fateful Tuesday night, I stared at a document on my laptop screen for nearly an hour. It was blank. So was I. I reached out my hand, picked up the phone, called a friend and said five words: “I can’t do this anymore.”
“You don’t have to,” the friend answered. “You know what you need to do.”
I was an idiot. I did know what I needed to do. I had been too stubborn to ask for help, too determined to make it on my own steam, too ashamed to say I couldn’t do everything myself. I’d been working too hard trying to prove myself and had forgotten about taking care of myself.
I looked at the successful businesspeople around me. They weren’t burning out. They had figured out the game, stacked the deck, and slipped aces up their sleeves. These people lived the dream of doing what they loved, making money, and enjoying wild success.
That part isn’t a crock. Today I live that life, and I’m not near done living it yet.
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