Category: Passion Coaching


10 Lessons I’ve Learned From 10 Years of Freelancing

Last week I posted an announcement about the celebration of paNASH’s 10-year anniversary. In it I told how I started my freelance business, the fears I faced in leaving a secure job to go out on my own, and how my business’s mission has evolved.

Today, I want to share some of the freelance lessons I’ve learned over those ten years in working for myself. I hope they will serve as an encouragement to those who are thinking about starting their own thing, are new to the freelancing world, or have been in it long enough to have faced some common struggles.

Freelance Lesson #1

I had to be disciplined. Being your own boss requires A LOT of discipline. Why? Because there’s no one looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re showing up on time or getting your work done. Discipline has always come naturally to me, and I was raised by a former Marine Corps officer who further instilled this trait in me. This is not to say that discipline can’t be learned later in life. But the discipline required to work for yourself will make things easier if you’ve already mastered it through other methods such as playing a sport, sticking with a commitment, etc.

Freelance Lesson #2

I had to use my love for life-long learning. I’ve always loved learning new things. And I realized the need for constant learning when starting a business because “a skill does not a business make” according to my friend and colleague Melody Bowers, co-owner of VirtualCollective.

You need to either already have some business sense, or be disciplined enough (see lesson #1) and have the ability to learn it as you go while managing your other responsibilities. If there’s something you can’t learn, there’s always someone else who has the knowledge you can pay to either teach you or to do it for you.

Freelance Lesson #3

I learned it was normal to question my decision almost every single day. I also realized it was normal to feel like giving up on a regular basis when things got hard. But, once I began working in a way that was true and authentic to my own personal mission in life, those doubts and insecurities started to diminish. I became okay with the discomfort of a process that isn’t linear. Instead, it looks more like this:

freelance lessons

Entrepreneur Darius Foroux further explains the figure above in his encouraging article Don’t Quit When It Gets Hard. I love it when he says, “If you never feel like quitting, that means life is too easy and you need to take action in your life.”

Freelance Lesson #4

I learned I had the ability to figure out the logistics. It turns out the things that seem intimidating at first (i.e. getting a business license, paying for your own health insurance, tracking your income & expenses/P&L, etc.) aren’t really all that scary. In fact, a lot of this not-so-fun part of having your own business is easier than you think.

And Freelancers Union has made a lot of it very simple. They provide tips and resources on the logistics of running your own freelance operation and even provide access to affordable insurance.

Freelance Lesson #5

I learned what I’m worth. The toughest thing for me was figuring out my pricing. At first it was hard to know how much to charge. And even when I thought I knew, I then had to figure out which pricing model worked best. An hourly rate? A day rate? A package or retainer rate?

Like most people first starting out, in the beginning I was devaluing my skills and expertise. But, after I started getting clients and began listening to their feedback on the services they received, I started to better understand my worth.

Yes, it helps to look at your competition and the average rate others charge for the same service or product to get an idea of what you should charge. But, what helped me most was asking current and past clients if they would’ve paid more based on the value they’d already received. To my surprise, most of them said yes, and even some told me flat out I was undercharging.

Now, most people (both potential and current clients) say my pricing is reasonable and fair. It took some tweaking and trial and error, but now my pricing structure is in harmony with the service I’m providing.

Freelance Lesson #6

I learned when to say no. This included being selective of potential clients, turning down certain speaking gigs/presentation requests, not wasting my time with potential contacts who only wanted to talk about themselves but never wanted to listen or make the relationship mutually beneficial, discontinuing professional relationships when trust had been broken, etc.

This is difficult to do when first starting out. Especially when it comes to turning away money. But, I can tell you the times I listened to my gut and turned away the opportunities that weren’t the right fit for my business, I was always glad I did. And the times I didn’t listen to my gut, I always regretted it.

Freelance Lesson #7

I learned not to compare myself with others. My pastor’s wife always says, “Comparing yourself to others makes you either small or smug, and neither of those are good.” I realized because I do what I do in my own unique way, comparing myself to my competition is a waste of time because it’s like comparing apples to oranges.

The same is true for you because you also have your own unique way of delivering your service or product that no one else can duplicate. Instead of comparing, focus on what makes you and your brand solely yours. This is what becomes your selling point!

Freelance Lesson #8

I learned (and am still learning) when it’s time to shift gears. When learning to drive a stick, you start to develop a feel for when it’s time to shift gears. This doesn’t mean you won’t grind your gears on occasion.

The same is true in running a business or working as a freelancer. You’ll start to learn when to give something a little more time to grow before uprooting it. When to pull the plug on what’s not working. And when to simplify if you’re trying to do too much or be too many things.

This type of self-awareness can mean the difference between success and failure.

Freelance Lesson #9

I realized the real risk. At first I thought the obvious risk of starting my own thing was leaving the security of a full-time job with benefits. I was wrong! Since leaving my job at a prestigious university where there were constant hiring freezes and multiple firings, I’ve had more job security than ever before.

I’ve been able to develop the grit and skills required to work for myself and bring in a steady stream of clients, to supplement my income at times when the stream was unsteady, and to eliminate the salary cap I had at my previous job.

The only real risk I faced was potentially losing any or all desire to work for someone else again. Let’s face it. It’s pretty hard to go back to working for someone else after having worked for yourself. But if I ever had to again, I’d be very selective in who I worked for (see Lesson #6).

Freelance Lesson #10

I learned fear is inevitable. Fear is not a reason to not venture out on your own if it’s what you truly desire. Instead, it’s often an excuse. Everyone who’s ever done this has had some level of fear.

Do your research. Prepare (but don’t wait until you feel fully prepared because that will never happen!). Then push through the fear.

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paNASH is Celebrating Its 10-Year Anniversary!

Ten years ago today, I walked into the Davidson County Clerk’s office to get a business license for paNASH. I had no idea what I was doing since I’d never started a business before.

It was scary to say the least. But, I put one foot in front of the other, filled out the form, and paid my fee.

When I walked out I thought to myself, “Okay, this is real now. I have to do it.” My business license was more than just a little piece of paper. It was something tangible that was holding me accountable.

I started working hard on my business part-time while still working full-time. Nine months later I took a leap of faith and quit my cushy career advising job with benefits to pursue my business full-time.

paNASH’s Beginnings

paNASH originally began as an image consulting business working primarily with up-and-coming recording artists here in Nashville. I used my skills from my previous experience as a college career adviser to teach new artists how to present themselves in media interviews, to labels, and more. The additional wardrobe styling piece of the business served as a creative outlet for me at the time.

But after eight years, I started feeling restless in my business and it no longer felt right to me. I couldn’t yet put my finger on why, but I knew it was about to undergo some big changes.

I loved working for myself and knew I didn’t want that to change, but I was burned out on the original concept of the business. And, I’d become extremely frustrated with the way the music industry works. I loved my clients, but I was done with the constant frustrations.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was being called back to what I loved most and was best at, career coaching. Only this time, it was taking on a new approach. For the full story, read From Fashionista to Passionista.

paNASH

paNASH Today

Since making the change to my business nearly two years ago, I’ve been much happier. It thrills me to see my clients gain the confidence to pursue their own passions that have been lying dormant for so many years.

Although they face a series of common challenges while going through the process of pursuing their passions, they start to sense an excitement in the transition to a new life and career. They have a light in their eyes again.

And while I’m also happier, I still face some challenges in my own transition of the focus and mission of my business. One of those is still being thought of as an image consultant. I guess I did a really good job of establishing paNASH’s brand early on. Too good of a job! When you Google paNASH, there are still some things that pop up indicating image consulting. I’ve had to turn away several people seeking image consulting services.

But, I’m using the same branding strategy now that I did then to eventually replace my former brand. And it’s working. Just like it works for my new clients whom I’m teaching how to develop their own personal brand for their career and their lives.

The Importance of a Mission Statement

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It’s so important to have a brand and a mission statement for yourself. My personal mission statement is:

To boldly pursue my passions and purpose, and to teach, encourage, and inspire others to do the same, resulting in lives overflowing with joy, peace, and fulfillment.

This mission statement helps me to make better decisions regarding both my business and my personal life.

My business’s mission statement also aligns with my personal mission statement. When I changed the mission of paNASH nearly two years ago, it became:

To serve, educate, and encourage you by assisting you with the discovery and pursuit of your passions in a way that honors your purpose and your own vision for success, while amplifying who you are personally and advancing you professionally.

No matter what your goals are, I encourage you to also develop your own mission statement. To learn how, check out my on-demand program on personal branding (45% of proceeds go to Justice & Mercy International). You’ll be glad you did because once you’ve completed the program, you’ll be able to make better life and career decisions. Decisions that are true to your unique passions!

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5 Common Fears (and Myths) of Quitting a Job You Hate

You hate your job, but because of it you don’t have the time or energy to start the overwhelming process of finding something new. And you think you can’t quit it until you find another job. But is that really a true statement, or just common myth? Let’s look at some of the common fears most people have about quitting a job with nothing else lined up. Let’s challenge the assumptions that breed those fears.

Fear/Myth #1

I won’t be able to afford my bills. Is this a true statement? Do you have a little extra money stashed away you can get by on for a little while?

Are there some unnecessary expenses you can cut to help you pay your necessary bills? For example, could you sell your car and take the bus for a while? Or just park your car and cancel your insurance for a few months while taking the bus instead? Do you really need cable or a Netfilx subscription right now? Do you need numerous music subscriptions? Or can you just listen to good old fashioned radio?

Are there some things you no longer need you could sell? What about that treadmill the only gets used as a place to throw your clothes when you don’t feel like hanging them up (you know who you are!). What about the stack of books you’ve already read (or know you’re never going to read)? If you live alone, do you really need a TV in more than one room?

Are there some other ways you can earn cash like picking up some temporary side jobs or a part-time job? In addition, can you get a roommate and charge rent to help with some of your housing costs? Do you own something else others might want to rent on a short-term basis? Do you have a skill people will pay you to perform because of their lack of that skill?

Fear/Myth #2

I’ll lose my health insurance and retirement accounts. Not necessarily. If you leave your job you can always transfer your retirement over to an IRA where it can still earn some money and you can still contribute to it yourself a little at a time until you get your next full-time opportunity. The only thing you’ll be missing out on in the short-term is your company’s matching contribution.

When it comes to health insurance, you can visit ehealthinsurance.com to find temporary health insurance, alternatives to Obamacare, and more. If you happen to do a little freelancing on the side after leaving your job, you may qualify for very affordable insurance through the Freelancers Union at freelancersunion.org (also, it’s free to join the union!). I get my dental and disability insurance through them at very little cost per month.

Fear/Myth #3

It’ll look bad on my resume. Sure, if all you do is become a couch potato after quitting, it will look bad! However, if you use your time to improve your skillset, take some affordable online classes, do some side or freelance projects, volunteer with a local non-profit, raise money to travel on a mission trip, pursue a passion project, or work a fun part-time job, it’s not going to look bad at all.

Whatever you do, do something you find interesting. I’m sure if it’s something interesting to you, it could be interesting to the people who’ll eventually be interviewing you. Show on your resume what you’ve done and the skills and lessons learned from those interesting experiences. This will make your resume stand out.

Tim Ferris, author of the bestseller The 4-Hour Work Week suggests answering the interview question, “Why did you leave your previous job?” with, “I had an once-in-a-lifetime chance to do [interesting experience] and couldn’t turn it down.” He says because most interviewers are bored in their own jobs, they’ll spend much of the interview asking how you made it happen. You can then respond with how your skills and resourcefulness you used to make it happen will make you the person they should hire.

When I started phasing out my image consulting business due to burnout to decide if I wanted to return to career coaching or not, I worked a few weekends teaching beginner stand up paddling at my local SUP shop. If I’d had to go through a job interview following that experience, I can guarantee you I would pique the interviewer’s interest if I said, “I taught people the closest thing to walking on water.” Then, I would tell them about how I used my teaching and training skills to do so.

Fear/Myth #4

I need to have a “real job” instead of trying to freelance. Freelancing IS a real job! And it’s one of the fastest growing jobs in the country. Don’t believe me? Just check out this infographic courtesy of the Upwork.com and Freelancersunion.org:

quitting a job

Even if you have no plans to become a freelancer, you still need the skills of an entrepreneur to be successful in your next job. (Click here for a list of those skills.)

Fear/Myth #5

If I don’t quit now, I’ll never find a way out and will be stuck in my job forever! Not true! You may feel like you have to quit your job right away despite the fears listed above, but you don’t have to quit YET!

You can start creating an exit strategy now and implement it later when the timing makes more sense or if you’re not financially able to quit without having something else lined up. Yes, eventually you’ll have to rip off the band-aid and quit, but there are ways to be smart about it. I outline four ways to wisely plan your escape route in my previous post, “Don’t Quit Your Daydream (or Your Day Job)”.

How to Challenge Your Assumptions

Whatever your fears are about quitting a job you hate, I encourage you to challenge those fears and assumptions. Here are a few ways to do so:

  • Learn how to deal with limiting beliefs (the annoying inner critic that tells you, “You can’t do it!”). The process for dealing with limiting beliefs is available for free in the 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan you’ll receive when you subscribe to the paNASH newsletter.
  • Talk to others who currently work in a job or career field you think you might enjoy. Find out from them the career path they followed to get there. You’ll likely find most people didn’t had a single direct career path that led them there. This will encourage and inspire you. Also, they may provide you some tips for making the transfer to that industry.
  • Take a weekday off from your job and spend the day doing job search activities just to get a feel for what that might be like. Update your resume. Spend some time familiarizing yourself with LinkedIn. Can’t take a day off work to do this? Use one of your non-workdays.
  • Put your resume out there and see what happens. Post your resume with no expectations. You’ll be able to see what kind of opportunities your current resume is attracting so you can figure out how to tweak it with the right keywords to attract better opportunities.
  • Write your resignation letter, but don’t send it. Just write it to help you get used to the idea of what may need to happen in the near future.
  • Dip your toe in the freelance water by offering your unique skills or expertise to a few friends or on sites like Fiverr.com or Upwork.com. Determine from these small assignments if you like working for yourself or not.

Make Time to Experiment

Feel free to find other ways to experiment with the idea of making a job or career change. Short-term experiments don’t have to financially break you and don’t require a huge commitment. In fact, these little experiments might be just the thing to provide a little breath of fresh air to your current dreadful situation. They can either help you hang on a little longer until you’re able to quit your job, or give you the courage now to go ahead and rip off the band-aid.

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How to Handle Life Transitions Gracefully

“If you let it, life will take you on a grand journey beyond anything you could ever plan for. If you are receptive and open, you will be and do things far outside your current view of yourself.” Benjamin Hardy

In Benjamin Hardy’s recent article entitled How to Reach the Next Stage of Your Personal Evolution, he describes much of what my clients are currently experiencing in their lives and careers (and what I too have experienced in my own life and career). Here’s an excerpt:

How to Reach the Next Stage of Your Personal Evolution

“Every next level of your life will demand a different you.” — Leonardo DiCaprio

Life is a multiple act play. In each succeeding scene in the play of your life, you will act in different roles, have different supporting cast members, and take on new challenges.

Going from one scene to the next is a transition, involving loss and newness. Without question, change and transition are always difficult, if that change is real. It’s easy to become over-attached to a certain role you’ve played, perceiving that role as your identity. It’s painful realizing that various characters from previous scenes don’t make sense in the next scene, yet still you awkwardly try to fit them in.

If you let it, life will take you on a grand journey beyond anything you could ever plan for. If you are receptive and open, you will be and do things far outside your current view of yourself. To quote Biblo Baggins, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

The roles you will play

Lobsters are soft squishy creates that house themselves within hard shells with rigid and spiky insides. As a lobster grows, its shell becomes constraining, even suffocating and painful.

Once the lobster becomes too uncomfortable: it hides from predators under a rock, jettisons its old shell, and fashions a new one. This process repeats throughout the lobster’s life.

Each of the lobster’s shells may look drastically different from the previous one. Indeed, in its new shell, the lobster may be unrecognizable to its closest friends and even to itself.

Likewise, the various scenes in your life may demand you to be someone you never intended to be. Although you may have been timid and quiet in the previous scenes, your new situation may require you to lead and speak boldly.

Each situation is different.

In our individualized culture, we like to see ourselves devoid of a context, as though we are a self-contained entity. However, identity and meanings are housed within contexts. Take for instance the shirt you’re wearing. To you, it may be a shirt, to a baby it may be a blanket, and to a moth it may be lunch.

The relationship between things (the context) is the reality, not the things themselves.

In-between scenes (and shells)

Between each stage in your journey, you’ll go through minor — and sometimes major — identity crises. Although this isn’t necessarily enjoyable, it’s necessary and natural.

According to Identity Status Theory, before you commit to and achieve a particular identity, you’ll experience identity crisis. While experiencing identity crisis, you’re as the lobster whose outgrown its shell. You don’t quite know who you are, or what’s next.

Jeff Goins calls this phase “The In-Between,” — the tension between now and the next big thing. This in-between time is confusing and vexing. Like the naked lobster, you’ve outgrown and cast away your old shell, but haven’t found your new one yet. You feel exposed and vulnerable.

In each scene, you will feel like a child

At each new stage (or shell) in your journey, you will feel like a child. You’ll be required to learn and do new things. You’ll relearn past lessons but from new angles and with new meanings.

Continual growth demands you continuously become a child again. As a child, you will crave and seek understanding. Once you learn and adapt, you’ll likely become complacent. Thus, you’ll need to become a child again so your thirst to grow returns. In this way, you’ll never get stuck or stagnate. (Click here to read more.)

Learn to Relish Change in Life Transitions

In my work with my clients, I see these identity crises in clients of all ages. There’s no such thing as only one crisis that occurs only at mid-life. It occurs in my clients who are turning 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, and so on.

One of the things I have to help them understand, as Hardy also explains, is to not only be patient in these times of uncertainty, but also to learn how to relish this time. These periods of life transitions can sometimes be the most exciting and exhilarating times of life because it’s when we finally open ourselves up to learning and trying new things. It’s when we feel most alive. Yes it can be uncomfortable, but it can also be fun if we allow it to.

If you’re currently going through a life or career transition, embrace it and let paNASH help you see the potential opportunities it can lead to. Click here to enjoy the rest of Hardy’s article.

Be Honest: Is Your Comfort Zone Actually Comfortable?

Is Your Comfort Zone Actually Comfortable?

You’re bored with your job, relationships, or life in general. But you’ve been unwilling to make any changes for improvement, big or small.

You’re stressed because you’re drowning in debt. But you’ve been unwilling to sell some of your stuff or cut out some of your unnecessary spending.

You’re lonely because you never asked out that girl or guy you found attractive. But you’ve been unwilling to risk rejection.

You’re worried about your job because you’ve been hearing rumors of a lay-off. But you’ve been unwilling to make a career change or look for something new.

You’re afraid to try something new because you’re unwilling to risk failure.

You’re medicated to help you deal with all the above feelings.

Does that sound comfortable to you? Your comfort zone is anything but comfortable. At best, it’s misery. At worst, it’s hell.

The Line Between Your Current Situation and the Life You Desire

The antidote for all of these feelings lies just outside your comfort zone. But the area outside your comfort zone is not the opposite of comfort. It’s not a “discomfort zone.” Instead, it’s what I call the THRIVE ZONE.

The “discomfort zone” is actually the thin border between your current comfort zone and the thrive zone. This small space is very awkward and painful, but that pain is short-lived. Once you cross that border, you’ll be in the thrive zone, also known as the life you desire.

comfort zone

Are You Willing?

What does it take to cross the border?

Willingness! That’s it.

The rest you can learn and figure out.

Are you fed up enough with how uncomfortable your comfort zone is that you’re willing to experience some temporary discomfort and make some changes?

Next Steps

If you answered yes, here are some steps you can take to help you figure out what to do to create the positive change you desire.

First, subscribe to the paNASH newsletter to receive an 8-Step Goal Achievement Plan. This complimentary resource will help you:

  • Prioritize your goals.
  • Set goals you can commit to.
  • Break your goals down into manageable steps.
  • Overcome obstacles standing in the way of your goals.
  • Ultimately achieve your goals.

Along with that, you’ll want to register for the complimentary on-demand program 5 Ways to Pursue Your Passions in Life and Work. In this program you’ll learn how to:

  • Become unstuck and get out of your rut (your not-so-comfortable comfort zone).
  • Reframe your negative beliefs.
  • Pursue your life-long passions and discover new passions.
  • And more!

The Results You Can Expect

As a result of these free resources you can expect to:

  • Have more success in your life and your career.
  • Serve as a positive example for your family members.
  • Focus more on your goals.
  • Obliterate the obstacles previously in your way of your goals.
  • Develop an action plan.
  • Have a true sense of accomplishment.
  • Gain the courage and freedom to pursue your passions.
  • Obtain guidance and direction toward work you love and enjoy.
  • Lessen your negative self-talk and develop a more positive mindset.

Does all of that sound better than boredom, stress, loneliness, worry, and fear? Yeah, I thought so. Don’t stay in misery any longer. Instead, subscribe and register for the free resources above and start thriving today!

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