Life as a freelancer and / or business owner poses many challenges but also a unique lifestyle to go with it. Sometimes it can be very alienating and oftentimes lonely but other times, it offers the complete opposite. It can be one of the most fulfilling things to be apart of. For me, this journey has been extremely fulfilling and I wake up virtually every morning motivated to take on the day. One of the biggest challenges however, is navigating through opportunity and realizing what is an actual opportunity and what is a distraction. What I want to do with this post is offer some insight into how I navigate through these situations.
Own your happiness
Going into any situation, it is important to approach it with a positive attitude and take obstacles and challenges with a grain of salt. Every situation will pose challenges at some point and it is key to stay positive through them. Whether you are going into a situation that you are in control of or a situation you have no control of, it is key to go in with an open mind and understanding that things may not roll out as you expect them to. Being open to adaptation is critical to avoid disappointment. Beyond this, positivity and / or negativity easily rubs off on the people around you so by focusing on the good, you are able to elevate the experience for all.
For me, I was recently on a trip to Patagonia and during the expedition, I faced a personal breaking point that truly pushed me to the edge and made me question things. The day in question was a tough day. We had spent the previous three days on horseback in the rain riding towards our subject we were planning to film. We were tired, we were wet and we had no food or water. I was ready to call it quits. However, because we were in the middle of nowhere, we were forced to push forward and make the best of the situation.
Once I was able to take a step back and look at the situation as a whole, I was able to re-focus on my core objectives of the trip and make the best of it. Through this, I realized that I was vulnerable and had a lot to learn about myself. Below is a rough edit of my experience in Patagonia that will be part of a longer film I am working on of the adventure.
Challenge your trajectory
Challenging not only who you think you are but also holding yourself accountable will allow you to do a self-check and focus on what is important. For me, continually assessing and re-assessing allows me to adapt to change. That being said, it is key that you don’t use this as a way to establish disappointment as a common. Use these self-checks as a way to judge if you are heading in the right direction and living the fulfilled life you want. I would normally talk about the importance of a 10 year plan here but sometimes, a 10 year plan isn’t relevant ;). Rather, ensure that you focus on the small victories.
One such example for me was a recent trip to Banff National Park. The whole goal of the trip was to focus on what I connected with the most in the production process and at that time, it was aerials. I set a goal for myself of perfecting my aerial flying skills. Through this, I realized my true passion was in telling stories that I connected with rather than one aspect of the production process.
For me, I am currently going though a bit of a transition in understanding the types of projects that make me the most happy. Finding that balance of paying the bills and working on passion projects has always been a struggle as I find it challenging to not feel personally invested in every project I work on. What I have found is that picking your battles is what matters most.
Stay true to yourself
It’s okay to say no to projects and okay to ask a fair rate for your work. I am so used to companies driving down the local market – sparking a flurry of emails from potential clients asking for work at insanely low rates. This is totally unacceptable and will eventually bite them in the ass.
I’ve attached one such example with the city ghosted out for reference.
The City of XYZ is requesting price quotations for video production services in order to develop a series of videos that promote XYZ’s local economy and events. We are looking for a minimum of seven, one to one-and-a-half minute videos, each featuring a core value and one general, summary video. Please indicate if audio (e.g. music, narration), text or other effects are included. Respondents are to indicate what services may be provided within a maximum project budget amount of $2,500. Respondents are to complete the attached form. Links to and/or examples of previous work and client testimonials are strongly encouraged.
Don’t feel you need to buy into this. Wait for the clients that value you and pay you what you are worth.
Enjoy the journey – don’t delay happiness
Don’t stress the little things. Let me say it again, DO NOT STRESS THE LITTLE THINGS. I find myself always on this quest to ensure everything is planned to the ‘T’ and does not stray from this plan. When a difficult time or decision comes along, a good rule of thumb is to not overreact and sleep on it if you are able to. Coming in with a clear head is key to ensure you do not overreact in a situation. With this it is also key to focus on the small victories and realize there is joy in the process. Leave room for adaptation and be open to change.
If you don’t see yourself as valuable no one else will
All I can say is this (see below). Focus on yourself and understand that no one is perfect. We are all in the same battle everyday.
Make every relationship count
I’ve always struggled with the work-life balance. What finally was my tipping point was being in the position of only producing corporate work where I was simply a ‘yes’ man. I began to question why I was doing what I was doing and struggled with understanding the position I was in. Through this process however, these opportunities allowed me to take a step back and analyze what got me to where I was and way I was in this position. I was able to see how work had overcome what was truly important in my life and that was family and friends.
Balance work with play
Following up on the previous point, it is key that you find a balance between work and play. Set boundaries and stick to them. By placing time limits on things and scheduling personal time, you will be able to not only be happier but you will also be more productive. Without these times to take a step back and understand what is important, you will never be able to shed the ‘grass is greener’ mentality. For me, this past year has truly been my focus. I’ve tried to focus on this as much as possible and have a better understand what is important to me. Yes, it does mean taking huge risks but with risks come big rewards.