Cast a Vision – and Stick to It
One of the most powerful lessons I have learned is to cast a vision and stick to it. This lesson applies to freelance work, but it also applies to life in general. Casting a vision for your career is hard and can take years to fully develop, which requires sticktoitiveness. But, if you apply tenacity over time, you will find the end result is powerful and motivating in a way nothing else can be.
Changing Your Freelance Career Focus
For nearly ten years I have worked as a web developer. For the last 5 years I have worked in the agency world. During this time I have built countless web sites, worked with incredible people and have had varying degrees of success. I have enjoyed this work, but I always found myself drawn to other things. The two most significant of these included:
- Looking for ways to train and teach people
- Identifying more and more books I wish I had time to write
While I can reflect on this now and see that this is what I really wanted to do be doing, I could never see how they could really be a full time job. After all, these were my secondary interests and just fun stuff to do. My real job was web development; I had to write code for dollars and that was final! It just seemed like it was too easy to make money as a developer and anything else was idealistic and crazy.
The irony is that it is actually really hard to sell contract work. And if you want to make it as a freelancer selling contract work you better love it. You better love it so much you can’t get enough of it. You need to get a rush out of helping clients, solving their problems, making them happy and generally doing an awesome job. While many of these things apply to me, it wasn’t true to what I really longed for. More importantly it isn’t sustainable for me over the long haul.
Discovering a True Long-Term Passion
My understating of what I wanted helped me to think creatively and find ways to make it work.
So with my transition out of my most recent job and back into freelance I went on a quest to discover exactly what I wanted. Of course, it was right in front of me the whole time. I wanted to teach more than anything.
This could mean teaching at a university. But it could also mean writing tutorials, or producing webinars. It also demonstrated that the books I wanted to write lined up perfectly with my desire to share knowledge and train people. My understating of what I wanted helped me to think creatively and find ways to make it work.
It turned out in the past I always returned to contract work for typical web work because it felt safe, which was of course a false perception. Selling contract work is unstable and extremely difficult. So with my vision in mind I began taking a whole new approach.
Here are the bullet points of my vision:
- Educate – I want to teach, train and educate people
- Write – I love to write books, tutorials, articles and design critiques
- Develop – I enjoy building stuff, staying sharp and learning new things
- Learn – I thrive on learning
Moving Forward with a Clear Vision
With a clear vision I am empowered to forge ahead at warp speed.
So far it is working out brilliantly. Every day I sit down to work and I know the things I want to be doing. As a result, I do things that take me closer to my vision and goal. This motivates me like nothing ever has. And a motivated freelancer is an extremely powerful thing. The freelancer is free of so many restraints. With a clear vision I am empowered to forge ahead at warp speed.
The really exciting part is that with my vision in place I have begun pursing the right kind of work. It turns out it isn’t so hard to find the type of work I really want. And my perceptions of what I thought I needed to do to make money were wrong. I am much more valuable in my new state of mind and I am empowered to push ahead with laser focus.
Of course I am fortunate in that I found numerous ways to make money doing what I love. And while I have only begun, it appears sustainable. The truth is my passion oozes out of my work and it is so easy to sell my new clients on what I am offering.
Push Past Fear and Do What You Love
What I am suggesting is that you find within the work you are already doing the focus that you truly love.
The obvious fear is one of finances. Can I make it work? Is it possible to do what I love and make money? I have always made money doing X, I can’t stop. Well, some of this might be true. If you love playing board games, you might find it hard to make a living doing that.
What I am suggesting is that you find within the work you are already doing the focus that you truly love. Develop a formula for the type of things you long to do and then set out to find a way to make that happen. For some, doing what you love will require a massive career change; for others, it will only require a better filter to select from the work you are already doing.
Apply Your Vision to Your Entire Life
Casting a vision for what I want means I am empowered to strive to achieve it.
For me this has changed my life. After seeing the success this has had in helping me professionally, I have begun to apply the same principle to my personal life. Forming goals for the type of family I want to have, the experience I want for my children and the future I want for my wife and I. This impacts everything from the types of vacations I would like to have, to the response I form to various disappointments in life. While I am early in this process, the effect is already clear. Casting a vision for what I want means I am empowered to strive to achieve it.