Does Freelance Living Have In Common with Exercise?
A recent copy of Information Week included a series of Business-Technologist Visions for 2003 given by industry leaders. All were interesting and insightful, but being a fitness enthusiast and also a class instructor, I was drawn to the statement by Janet Weiman, at that time Senior VP and CIO of Continental Airlines, Inc. She started her article by writing, "Change is like exercise - the more you do, the more you like it." How true!
And how true it is that the longer we remain free agents, independent professional and freelancers, the more we like our careers and lifestyle. After thinking about that idea, I realized that there are a number of similarities between freelance living and exercise which would be fun to discuss. So, here goes in this article. As always, I would love to read your thoughts on the topic.
Taking the initial plunge can be the hardest step. Even if we have been talking about starting an exercise program or quitting a job we dislike, we still have to make the first step by following through. And, this is always the hardest. It is getting up the courage and mustering the confidence to believe that we can succeed. In both scenarios we know that we have a lot to learn and that many people never reach their goals. Just realize that you won't always be able to keep up with those who have been exercising for a long time - they had to begin somewhere. And also remember that your journey into the world of freelance living may be bumpy, but will also be exhilarating. The good news is that once we have made first the step and started, we have initiated the momentum. Just keep in mind that a body in motion tends to gather speed.
Make a plan and follow your strategy. Whether you are working on fitness or on gaining financial rewards, a strategy plan with goals written down will help keep you focused. If you have worked out with fervor and are starting to reap the benefits, you will be less likely to stuff yourself with fatty foods when you know what your weight goals are for the month. If, as a free agent, you have written down how many jobs you plan to complete in the next three weeks, you will be less likely to become involved with frivolous wastes of time - even if they sound like fun.
Don't be hesitant to ask for help. In my fitness classes I notice that the participants who are present on a regular schedule and are showing obvious signs of physical fitness are those same students who often stay after class to ask me questions - about their exercise routines, their nutritional habits or something I have mentioned in class. They are not embarrassed to ask for help, so they automatically rise to the top. It is the same with freelancing. Don't ever be afraid to pick another freelancer's or entrepreneur's brain. Most I know are more than willing to share ideas, answers and hard-knocks information with you. Any who aren't probably aren't doing that well themselves.
Find what area is the most enjoyable for you. For exercise success, you must do a routine that you enjoy. I have discovered over my years of teaching that someone who doesn't like it, won't stick with it. For example, I am a group person, so always do better in and enjoy more participating in a fitness class. Others would rather go it alone, jogging or working out on a machine. As far as your career is concerned, find something you love to do, and your days will be filled with joy and clients. People want to work with people who exude enthusiasm and love for what they are doing.
It is easy to become discouraged. Even with everything I have already mentioned, it is still easy to feel like we aren't making any progress. The scale hasn't changed and our clothes are as tight as always. The prospects and clients are not materializing as quickly as we had hoped they would. Plateaus in both exercising and business are common. Everyone experiences them. Treat them as friends who are giving you a wake up call. I know that it sounds impossible, but I consider this to be a test to see how committed we truly are, so see the next paragraph.
Patience, discipline and commitment will pay off with time. When we are working on our bodies or our own business career, we will find that worthwhile, lasting results take time. I have heard well known speakers say something to the effect, "It took me seventeen years to become an overnight success." All I can suggest is to assure you that I have seen almost miraculous results from exercise students and other freelancers who have been patient, disciplined and committed to their strategic plans - even if the outcomes have taken longer than they originally imagined. They never gave up and they will never look back!
To be successful, we need get control of our time and organize our lives. Managing our time will always pay off in the future. Yes, exercise takes time, but also pays off by giving us more time because of the added energy and good health it produces. Organizing our workspace, our schedules and our lives will bring a sense of peace and order to everything we do. One of the best time management systems I know appears in Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. By putting first things first, and working on what is important, but not urgent, will help us lead the principled life Covey suggests in his book and lectures.
Forget excuses, and just do it! Everyone can rationalize and make an excuse for not accomplishing something he or she desires. We may be too young or too old. We may not be able to afford it or take the chance. It may not succeed. It may be too risky. I want to share one of the most useful statements that a fellow freelancer told me. I was becoming discouraged because a group we both belong to was shooting down all of my ideas for changing. He said, "Just remember. It is easier to receive forgiveness than to get permission." So forget your excuses and giving yourself permission to take the chances. Just go ahead, and if you fail, ask for forgiveness. It is better to have tried and failed, than not to have tried at all.
Stick with the people who are making progress themselves and who encourage, not discourage, you. People who are succeeding with exercise and in their own businesses will be the most encouraging and positive people you will meet. They will also be the most helpful. Make them your mentors and cheerleaders, and before long you will be sought out by others so you can reciprocate by encouraging and helping them. Negative people can destroy your plans and dreams more quickly than any other kind of adversity you will face.
Remember, by keeping on keeping on, you will reach your goals. I guarantee that one day you will wake up and discover a whole new you. Your body will feel and look great. And, you will have so much work from clients you love working with, you will hardly be able to wait to dive in.
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