Are you stuck like a record on your boring freelance story? It can happen to the best of us, trust me. The boring freelance story is a little tougher than the usual to shake because we’re often fatigued. Fatigued by life, problem-solving, caring and the whole she-bang that goes with it.

Yet we do need to recognise when we’re over-indulging our own misery and when it’s healthy.

Here’s hoping this blog will help you work out what your boring freelance story is and how to ditch it

What’s a boring story?

Via Gratisography

Before we take on the boring freelance story, let’s work out the lay of the land.

Ever felt like no matter how much good advice you throw at a situation, you’ll only ever hear the same story repeat? That is the boring story in its essence. It’s when we over-indulge and even wallow in manusha and unhappiness without any real desire to change.

You know a boring story when you see one-

  • When a friend won’t shut up about their stupid, insensitive partner but won’t dump them
  • The worker that hates their job and their boss yet has as many excuses to stay as they have complaints
  • The friend that swears it’s all beneath them yet can’t stop indulging life’s little soap operas
  • The Queen Bee in the friendship group everyone loves to hate- or who loves to hate on everyone
  • The neighbour that can’t help finding the problems in the community
  • The family member that is always lost…or always out to improve you
  • Social media slacktivism

These are the boring stories of life. The small specks we love to amplify and send ourselves over to. The blah-blah that continues without resolution, acceptance – and even action.

It’s simply set to repeat every time you meet.

Sharing the tough times aids us in moving forward. The distinction becomes when we’re stuck in the muck and unwilling to work for a way out. Unable is different to unwilling. We’re discussing the joy derived from the drama and the escalating temperature of the situation with each passing conversation.

It’s about a lack of forward plan coupled with almost satisfied sense gained from raking over the same coals, getting the attention and not much else.

Granted, it’s hard to define this on paper. Yet it’s that weird feeling we’ve had with a friend that seemingly always has something to gripe about and the focus barely shifts.

If you find yourself saying “Oh gosh, Matilda’s coming. I wish she’d stop whining about XYZ”, you’re probably experiencing a boring story.

Doubt is different to indulgence

Let me start by saying there is a big difference between your freelance boring story and having a hard time. Freelancing is bloody tough and there is a lot we need to talk about on a regular basis!

Asking for support. Getting things off our chest to move on. Seeking help and guidance. Relieving your distress. These are not a freelance boring story in the making.

In fact, they’re healthy human processes. We face trials along the road to freelance glory. Doubts collect like bugs on a windshield.

Letting them out in controlled, helpful and health ways is useful in overcoming them.

I had a coaching client recently who was shocked and horrified to realise I too have doubts. No-one is immune. It’s the nature of creative process that we doubt. You can’t be intelligent, empathetic and sensitive enough to the world around you to be driven by entrepreneurial spark and somehow manage to skip the bit about self-doubt.

We all get knocked on our arse occasionally.

There will be times where you worry where the work might come from, if you are charging enough, if you’ve done the best you can, when a client’s mean comments will seep into your bones.

You’re human. It is that simple. You must find a way to respond to those moments that are healthy.

The distinction is when you allow your challenges to become your boring freelance story. And at some point, you need to recognise the boring freelance story for what it is and get past it.

Defining the boring freelance story

Freelancers weather a lot of storms. It’s a stressful gig full of a lot of needless angst. It’s only natural we indulge our boring stories here too.

I love a good boring freelance story. I’m totally guilty of making a snow angel in my own sookiness. Maybe that makes me uniquely qualified to use this moment to kick myself out of the land of freelance boring stories and drag me with you.

The freelancing boring stories look a little bit like: 

  • The client you hate but refuse to fire
  • The collaboration partner who sucks to work with that you don’t work away from
  • The bills that never get paid on time that you don’t chase up
  • The missed jobs that go to somebody else
  • The freelancer with the awe-inspiring social media you covet
  • The freelancers who don’t know half as much as you do who make more money
  • The people selling education that are stuck in the 80’s
  • The existence of attire and lipstick metaphors in women’s business that throw feminism out the window with every pink encrusted logo
  • The bank that won’t give you the loan
  • The parents, partner and friends who think you should get a real job
  • The five-minute expert that knows all about your business from the outside

Snore, snore, snore.

The truth is we all suck at something to do with our business at some point or another. We’re all at the mercy of the whim of others. And things often are not fair. The only thing you can change is the way you respond in a lot of cases.

Once you do, things will start to improve. Well, at least you might have more space to rent in your head for the next one, anyway.

A couple of common complaints we must stop trotting out: 

  • The government will never step in and save you from eBidding sites. And you can’t ask for your freelance livelihood to be protected against them while you use them to source your cheap labour either. #sorrynotsorry
  • You are not entitled to work simply by existing. You do have to work to get leads, keep clients happy and move the needle
  • No matter how bad your client’s attitude is or how many times you cop that attitude as you go, you cannot adopt the same attitude and expect to succeed
  • In service does not mean subservience. Saying yes to everything that walks past will burn you out and lead you astray
  • There is no 1-2-3 punch in marketing or freelancing that will fix your business outside sweat and hard work. And even then, a lot of us still failing to be done
  • Clients don’t have this mythical thing called “common sense”. You must put the boundaries in to get them respected
  • Having terms and conditions alone isn’t enough to get paid on time. You must enforce them as well
  • The crushingly boring addiction to money related issues in freelancing. You aren’t your money, but you also need it. Why can’t we find a happy medium between minted ponce and penniless martyr?

Ditch your freelancing boring stories to reduce stress  

Freelancing is a tough as all get out gig. To protect your mental health and your ability to take all the knocks on the chin, you need to ditch your boring story. Or at the very least, stop trotting it out and dwelling on it.

Find better ways to relieve the tension. Write in a journal. Get a counsellor. Find a mentor. Take up kick-boxing. Walk the dog. Sing death metal at karaoke. Something!

And at the risk of sounding like your parents or doctor, you also need to ensure you rest, eat well, exercise and ditch overwork.

Notice how these “how to stress less” tips don’t include comparing yourself on Instagram or pulling all-nighters?

If you want to reduce your propensity for indulging your boring freelance story, prevention against stress is your best damn cure. Lowering stress raises resilience.

Reducing stress in freelancing 

  • Spend time outside
  • Organise time away from the computer, social media, email etc on a regular basis
  • Interact with other human beings (online and in person)
  • List what you’re grateful for
  • Make time for exercise and movement
  • Take breaks
  • Eat well
  • Get enough sleep
  • Plant positive thoughts
  • Have a relationship with optimism grounded in realism (no denial, no sad-sackery)
  • Make time for hobbies that give you joy (e.g. gardening, reading, travel, painting, cooking etc)
  • Add mindfulness to your day
  • Spend time with friends and family
  • Remind yourself of the good times and your freelancing achievements (not just your TO DO list)

If you don’t look after your stress levels, it grows like vines over a fence. There is a productivity cost to stress that will catch you in the end. You chose to be a freelancer to gain freedom. Don’t stomp all over that by tying yourself to a life of servitude to your Inbox.

Talk to other freelancers on a regular basis. It helps to share information with others because it shows you how much you know when you help others plus gives you a feeling of being useful. Gaining help from others also helps you avoid making mistakes and helps when the isolation sets in. Plus, it’s great networking and for finding out clients you should avoid as they get named and shamed on the freelance grapevine.

Here is a little inspiration for you and a little education to help you understand why self-care is so important:

Swapping the jailers: In business for yourself

The best time to be in business is when it all blows up

The line between business you and your creative pursuits

Working for balance

Using your misery to motivate you

Why working too hard impairs your thinking

Why writers need to maintain their mental health

Exercise:

  • Write down your 3 most boring freelance whiny-pants stories
  • Look at them in the cold black and white
  • Choose 3 ways to solve the problems OR 3 alternative positive stories
  • Activate

Ready to kick your boring freelance stories to the kerb? If you need a hand, I can coach you through it