How you, as a freelancer, can keep motivation high

Published on 04.12.2018

“For willingness rids way”, wrote William Shakespeare, who was self-employed and even today, hundreds of years after his death, is revived on thousands of stages large and small every year. He was an extremely successful, highly motivated freelancer whose earnings allowed him to buy the second-largest house in his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon.

We feel the passion for his work come through in his plays and dialogs. And yet we must assume that even Shakespeare had moments when he starred with frustration at the quill in his inkwell. Hours in which inspiration did not flow freely. Or perhaps he was bleary-eyed at the beginning of the week, kept up by drunken ruffians carrying on the night before in his Globe Theater? Did Shakespeare read reviews? Were they always lauding? He certainly wasn’t familiar with Google or Amazon evaluations.

How then did Shakespeare keep his joy of creating alive? How did he keep the creative flame burning bright?

Correctly defining goals: the SMART formula for optimum motivation

Did the deified superstar of theater know the SMART method? Today it is used by competitive athletes and managers. SMART stands for:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Achievable
R = Realistic
T = Time framed

An example: The goal, I’m going to become a wealthy IT professional, is not very specific. Better: I will successfully complete the training by mid April. Measurable would be, for instance, this week I will make eight phone calls to potential clients in the software sector.

The Spanish association Narón set itself an unusual, yet reachable goal when it announced that “in two years our citizens will be one-hundred thousand kilos lighter.” Goals must be defined, be specific, and be verifiable against SMART. Otherwise there is no real result testing.

Intrinsic motivation? Extrinsic motivation? Both!

In the quote at the beginning Shakespeare links desire and motivation to the way to the goal. He feels similar to many freelancers and self-employed persons who chose their profession for the joy of fulfilling their tasks.
You shouldn’t foster just this, but intrinsic motivation as well. Extrinsic motivation can also provide you with much. Imagine the goodies you can treat yourself and your family to. Reward yourself and your loved ones when you have largely or entirely reached your previously defined goals.

Five more brief motivational tips:

• Structure your day. Firm times and rules have a motivational effect. Write down deadlines and tasks in your appointment calendar and check them.
• Don’t get distracted! This is a risk especially prevalent at home. Consider whether to lease office space or seek/set up a shared office.
• Get outside feedback from your customers and clients. Praise, as well as constructive criticism, will draw you out of your shell and often strengthen the bond.
• Look to swap information with other freelancers. One of many options is Working Out Loud.
• Work in pairs from time to time, or as a team. Combine capabilities to generate new projects which address new potential buyers.

The right motivation will make some Mondays and some weeks even more productive. Here at Westhouse we wish you lots of success!

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