9 Learnings from 1.5 years of freelancing

Why it all starts with self-worth: An honest look back.
September 5, 2023
7 min

Within 3 years I have turned my life in a new direction, which is something I would never have thought I could do back then.

All the change and hard work is slowly starting to pay off. Today I am fairly independent and I was even able to fulfil my dream of having a dog. But my journey is far from over.

I would like to share a few learnings and thoughts on my personal process here. Everything comes in its own time

Content 👀

  1. Need for independence
  2. Everything comes in its own time
  3. Practice a stand-up attitude
  4. Practice patience
  5. Walk through uncertainty
  6. Dare to explore yourself
  7. Happiness ≠ Happiness
  8. Gamification example: a scrapbook of experiences
  9. Where is my journey taking me?
  10. Conclusion: Self-worth

Learning #1 — Need for independence 🕊️

More than 10 years ago, in training, I couldn’t wait to get a job and just contribute my part to society. That’s what I managed to do. I was able to create a new environment for myself over the years and spent a lot of time with my friends.

For me it was a time of letting go and belonging.

Don’t fall

After 5–6 years, I realised that something was missing. The social dramas in my group of friends, the ongoing routine with no appreciation for my work and no prospects for my career etc., triggered a huge emptiness inside me. I was not being myself. I stood beside myself. I was daydreaming about the person I wanted to be or could have been. I wanted more from my life.

Something had to change.

Learning #2 – Everything comes in its own time ☝🏼

I strongly believe that our environment is influenced by our mindset, our attitude. Negative attitudes lead to negative reactions. A sentence that comes up in me all the time:

“ The universe does not give me what I want, but what I need. “

As soon as we are ready to accept challenges instead of fighting them, a lot falls into place. However, in order to develop further, you also have to show self-discipline and courage. And the jury is the toughest in the world: yourself.

Trust that the work and time you invest will be worth it. You can set a rough direction, but the exact destination, let alone the timing, remains unknown.

Learning #3 – Practice a stand-up attitude 🙃

We spend a large part of our lives working. And I refuse to accept that work is just a burden in order to have more resources for our private life.

About 3 years ago I came to my realisation. I felt that I could do more. This couldn’t be everything. I wanted to be able to fulfil my desires at some point, for example raising a dog. Living my own interpretation of work-life balance.

I wanted to value myself more. I wanted to take responsibility and live a more self-determined life. And that shouldn’t be dependent on my employer or other external factors either.

Don’t blame others for your emotions or problems. Be ready to take your life into your own hands and stand up for yourself — especially when it gets uncomfortable.

Learning #4 – Practice patience⏳

Self-employment is the most difficult thing I have done so far. It takes a lot of energy to do something like this on your own. Yet it’s probably one of the most enriching experiences I’ll ever make.

As a result of constantly confronting myself, I am more self-confident today. Not only have I learned to trust myself, but I’ve also got to know my weaknesses better.

Many people say I am a patient person, but to this day I still have to take deep breaths and prove just that kind of patience.

Patience is one of the most important skills to practise. Take a deep breath and learn to wait. Hang in there. You cannot control everything.

Learning #5 – Walk through uncertainty 🕳️

In the beginning, everything was very exciting. I was pumped up with energy and ideas. Later, a sense of stress began to build up. “Maybe it won’t be enough after all.” The motto is to keep at it and motivate yourself.

With time, neutrality sets in. But no matter at what point of self-employment you find yourself: As soon as you get used to one situation, another unknown challenge is waiting around the corner.

What’s important is that you’re not too afraid and that you can learn from your mistakes. I believe that’s what comes with uncertainty.

I still get up every morning with an uncertainty. But it has changed. Instead of tensing up more and more, I have learned to relax. Instead of stressing, I let it come to me. I just make the most of it. There are times when it’s enough, and other times when it’s not.

You will meet many unknown factors during your independence. Do not regret a thing, because there is nothing you can do about it anyway. Just do better next time. Many times it will feel like you are walking in the dark. Just keep moving, because stagnation is the enemy.
There’s a reason why they call it “the calm before the storm”.

Learning #6 – Dare to explore yourself 🪐

When it comes to self-development and personal improvement, we often refer to our comfort zone. We are creatures of habit, so we like things we’re familiar with. I think it’s important that we dare to try new things and stay flexible.

Give yourself a jolt.

The comfort zone is not a closed room with four walls. We can just as easily imagine a universe in which we can move freely in any direction. But we can only see as far as we’ve got to know ourselves. So, there is still a lot to discover.

Like an unknown landscape, you can explore and unlock your comfort zone if you dare. There is more to each of us than we realise. Have the courage to try the things you have wanted to do for so long. Each step will help you to get to know yourself better.

Learning #7 – Happiness ☘️ ≠ Happiness 🍀

We have become addicted to fast happiness. A cappuccino, a new dress, a bar of chocolate, a pizza, a party with or without a sexy end.

But long-term satisfaction doesn’t come from fleeting moments like these.

I think we may have forgotten that we will eventually have bad times along the way. We have to learn to take risks. To recognise the good in bad times and find solutions. We have to learn to stay optimistic. If we open up and allow that to happen, we begin to value these life experiences. This makes us more robust and more fulfilled.

Learn to distinguish between what short-term and long-term happiness means to you. If you can navigate through the low times, you will treasure the highs even greater. Stay optimistic and recognise the opportunity to find solutions and grow from them.

Learning #8 – Example Gamification 🕹️

To this day, I have an admiration for people who live their lives as if it were a game. However, the longer I work on myself, the more I realise that it feels like a real-life game. The good thing is; practice makes perfect.

An example in 4 sentences:

Imagine you have a collection book for life experience stickers 📒. For each experience you get a sticker and put it in the book. That’s your own personal score. Completely individual, invisible and untouchable.

Personally, such a perspective helps me to put everything into perspective instead of letting my emotions get the best of me. It makes me calmer and more content. Meanwhile, I’m almost curious about what the next challenge might be that I can grow with.

Every moment in your life will belong to you forever. No one will ever be able to take that away from you. Collect your experiences as if they were coins in a Nintendo game.

Realisation #9 – Where is my journey taking me? 🗺️

Today I live in the now.

Even though I would fail in the long run, I am incredibly grateful and pleased for this experience. I have become stronger and more fulfilled.

But I also realise that working as a one-man show is very exhausting and risky in the long run; if I don’t work, my business won’t work either.

It is time to move on.

There is only one direction: forwards

At this point, my business needs to grow so that I can not only live off it in the long run, but invest in it again. Which means there’s only one way to do it: scaling.

I will spend the coming time — probably years — working on building a long-term business and putting together a team. On the one hand, I need to build up the services and products, on the other hand, I need partners and the financial means for employees and investments.

And I am insanely excited about the next 5 years!

Conclusion: Self-worth. 🥰

Most of us spend about a third of their lives working. Self-worth starts with giving more value to ourselves also. Our lifetime is the most precious thing we have and can give to others.

Patience is gold, risk-taking is necessary and the journey is the goal. My experience and my willingness to change are my constant companions.

Here are a few sentences I would like to leave you with:

  • Be grateful. Learn to value and appreciate your time and experiences.
  • Take responsibility for your problems.
  • Give yourself the self-worth you deserve by trying the things you’ve wanted to do for a long time.
  • Give yourself a push and keep at it! Trust that positive actions will lead to positive reactions.
  • Dare to go into the unknown, this is where you find your way back.
  • Practice patience and endurance.
  • Be ready to reinvent yourself and adapt.
  • Collect experiences as if they were bonus points: Practice makes perfect.

Did you like this post? Let me know!

What does your path look like so far? Do you share this view? I would love to read about your experiences!

All the best
~ greg

I will never send more than one email per month, I promise!

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