Breathing new life into your career when you work for yourself.
Q: For the past couple of years I’ve been freelancing, more or less by choice. But lately I’ve been losing my enthusiasm for it, especially having to find business. How can I put the spark back in? — Franni, 44, business consultant
A: Now may be the time to take stock of your options and consider your vision for the next phase of your career.
Let’s face it; your tone doesn’t exactly ooze enthusiasm for your current situation. In order to figure out if it still works for you, do a brief retrospective on how you ended up a freelancer. Many people land there after a downsizing or as a result of some level of dissatisfaction or problem at work.
For others, it can be a handy solution to a desire for more flexibility.
The problem is that often, if you are going away from an unsuitable situation, you are not making an active choice toward something.
Next, reflect on aspects of your current professional life that you particularly like and those you don’t care for.
Also think about what’s missing. Don’t worry about what you think you “should” like; be as honest as you can. This is your chance to understand what you would like to change in your work life.
You can then prioritize so that minor annoyances don’t loom larger than they deserve. Then, if you still have a genuine passion for the actual work you do, it can re-emerge.
But an important reality check needs to occur. If you are going to be successful as a freelancer, you must bring in new business.
If you are really falling short on it and you want to remain self-employed, take steps to build your skills.
Find a sales coach, take a class, get a mentor, whatever will work for you to give you the knowledge you need, and also build in some accountability to drive action.
Refresh your approach to finding new contacts, as well. Look for interesting professional groups that you can participate with.
Go into them with the purpose of getting energized, not making sales. This will keep the pressure off while allowing you to build a broader network.
This can serve as an organic fuel source for your business pipeline.
Now, maybe you have decided that you are more interested in a return to a formal workplace. This, too, will require a strategy. Interestingly, it’s not all that different from the approach needed to build your business.
If you are going into the job market, you probably know the drill.
First and foremost, decide what you want to do. Are you looking for a new role in your field or a change into a different type of position?
Especially if you are making a change, you need to be able to tell a compelling story on why you’re a good candidate.
You might practice by having conversations in low risk settings about the roles you’re seeking.
Then get the word out — again, a networking situation. This is the most successful way to find a new job, so it’s worth the effort.
Through it all, maintain your well-being and positive attitude.
This will serve you well regardless of the path you choose.