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How to Focus Less on the "Self" of Self-Employment

Work | Attie Murphy | 6 mins

According to studies, 35% of U.S. workers are part of the gig economy, or what many call the “freelance” community. I am in that 35%, and for several years, freelancing was my career path. I started out writing articles for digital marketers and eventually ended up working as a web designer. Once I went freelance full-time, I told myself I would do whatever it takes to stay self-employed. Now I only have a couple of clients I work for occasionally, and my primary job is Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley (aka writing this article.) So what changed my mind? I realized that the only purpose I was pursuing was money. Even if I had been successfully achieving that goal, I knew it wouldn't fulfill me. I had so many big ideas about using my independence to make a difference, but I missed one fundamental key: people. As long as my end-game was only to have people pay me to make things for them, I lacked passion. When we're honest with ourselves, we realize that even the things we enjoy will grow stale if we're only chasing our desires. But without coworkers or "team goals," what motivation is there beyond self-achievement? 

What are the right reasons? 

The first question to ask yourself is, why do you want to work freelance? Do you want to do something extra on the weekends? Or do you want to start a full-time business? Are you primarily attracted to working for yourself so you can have freedom from others? That is where I missed the point. Our goal should never be to work "for ourselves." Of course, we work to provide for ourselves and pursue our interests, but our purpose is to love others in all that we do. The Bible tells us, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as if working for the Lord, not for human masters." - And that applies even when we are our own bosses. 

When you seek wisdom, God may lead you to take the initiative and offer your talents to the world. If He does, you can trust it is to take you in a direction that glorifies Him. Depending on your skill type, you may not see clear ways to impact people, but you'll find unexpected ways to make a difference when you look for opportunities. No matter what endeavors we go for, we'll find more peace when we follow His path and know that our calling is not to achieve for our own self-glorification. 

Don't get tunnel vision. 

The biggest mistake we can make is to think we can see our whole path ahead. (I certainly didn't expect the 2020 prediction memes to turn out more accurate than my planner.) It's smart to plan but foolish to falsely determine. When we find something we want to do or think we are good at, we tend to look straight ahead through our decided methods. That mentality can affect us in all areas of our lives, and especially when we independently manage our jobs. 

If you want to pursue wisdom and fulfillment in your work, here are some practices that can help you think outside of yourself: 

Remember, it's not all on you.

It's tempting to accept that the "weight of the world" is on our shoulders, especially when we set out to do something creative or risky. Even if you're just working on your gig a few hours a week, you might still feel the pressure to make your own success. But that's where the tunnel vision will come in and stifle you. Stay open to new directions and know that asking for help is not a sign of failure. 

Who is growing with you? 

Who can you share accountability with? Who can you encourage in their goals and receive the same in return? It doesn't need to be someone who works in the same field as you, but someone who shares your desire to expand perspective in your work.

What do you not know?

What leadership characteristics do you not have experience in? In what areas are you unsure of your goals? Who can you learn from? How can you prepare yourself to help others in the future? 

What are your spiritual gifts?

Your spiritual gifts aren't always the same as your talents. They help you understand who you are and how you can make a difference. How can your spiritual gifts elevate your talents to broader goals? You can learn more about your spiritual gifts here

Bring people into your zone. 

As a writer, most of the time, I need privacy to get my work done. And if you do any type of work online, you probably feel the same. But even if it's only ten percent of the time, I realize the importance of regularly having people in my work zone. Whether you invite a friend for a workday at a coffee shop or rent a coworking space, working and sharing with others will help you keep a team mentality in mind. 

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Written By

Attie Murphy

An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.

Published on Dec 6, 2021