Just the other night I had a Freelancing Nightmare. I hadn’t experienced one of these in a long time.
You may have heard friends of yours who work as servers at restaurants refer to the “Server Nightmare”. Servers interact with many different people in their occupation — some nice, some not so much. Servers almost entirely depend on tips to make money, so they’re under a ton of pressure to do their job well and meet the high expectations of people dining out.
When they go home after a long night, many servers experience “server nightmares” while they sleep, which are usually the disasters they hope to avoid at work — forgetting to bring food out to a table, angry patrons, frustrated kitchen staff, being scolded by the manager, multiple tables on a busy night, a table of people who clearly aren’t going to tip, and so on.
I’ve never served before, but my wife has and she’s told me all about these nightmares.
However, back in 2012 when I left my full-time job to work for myself as a freelancer, I realized very quickly that freelancers have their own version of the server nightmare.
The Freelancing Nightmare.
After a long day of hustling, finding client work, sending proposals, designing and coding, I would go to bed — and wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat.
A near panic attack.
My mind wouldn’t stop racing and worrying about things like:
“What if the clients stop coming?”
“What if I don’t get any work this month?”
“What if my income this month isn’t enough to pay the bills?”
“What will my income be next month? In three months?”
But then I’d wake up in the morning, the sun would be shining, I’d make a latte, I’d be with my family, and I would re-experience the freedom again.
All was good.
How do you deal with Freelancing Nightmares?
You see, for the first time ever, Laura and I are actually pretty actively looking into buying a house! We’ve been renting for the better part of 10 years (and have been happy to do so) but we’re finally in a place where we are confident it’s a smart move for us. That being said, we’re prepared to front a significant down payment, and our mortgage payments are going to be higher than our rent payments. Obviously, it’s a huge financial obligation, and even though we’re prepared, it still feels like there’s a lot of pressure to ensure the continued growth and success of my business.
I found that the nightmares usually happened during times of uncertainty; when a big purchase was on the horizon, an unexpected cost came up, or when the client work seemed slow. I began to notice this pattern, and it helped me find a way to diffuse the panic attack in the middle of the night.
I would take a few deep breaths and think about how great things are going. I’d realize the freedom I experience daily, remind myself I’ve been doing this for X weeks (or months, or years), how thankful I am for this journey, and then I’d declare that tomorrow I was going to hustle HARD.
I would leave NO ROOM for failure.
It’s definitely helped reduce the frequency of the nightmares, and it’s helped diffuse them quickly.
Freelancing isn’t for the faint of heart. I’ve realized that running your own home business means you’ve gotta be hardcore.
You mustn’t scare easily.
You can’t wait around for success to come your way.
You need to work 10x harder and 10x faster than you think you should.
You have to forge your own path to success.
You must learn to turn uncertainty and fear into kindling for the raging bonfire that is your passion and drive.
Do Freelancing Nightmares ever go away?
You might be wondering if the Freelancing Nightmares stop at some point. Perhaps with more experience, and more success, the nightmares are replaced with pleasant dreams of eating tiramisu and drinking expensive fine wine with your friends on a private jet…
Freelancing Nightmares don’t actually go away. At least, not completely.
I can say with confidence that, with experience, success, and establishing multiple streams of steady income in my career as a freelance web developer, the Freelancing Nightmares have become much less frequent. But they haven’t completely disappeared.
The difference now is that I know how to quickly diffuse the panic, and turn the worry into drive.
To work harder, better, and faster tomorrow.
Do you experience Freelancing Nightmares?
How do you deal with them? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.