If you have ever worked for yourself then you are likely to have faced the dreaded loss of motivation, or “Solo Mojo” as I like to call it. The reasons for losing your motivation to work are very personal, therefore there is no one size fits all method to get it back.
To try and get a range of feedback, I asked the lovely folks in the Freelancers Hub Facebook Group for their advice and tips on how they, personally, deal with those times when their motivation levels dip and they can’t function as a freelancer. Here is what they said:
“I think being happy in your personal life can go some way to helping your work life. Cliche as it might be, exercise and socialising will help. If that doesn’t work, I try and get a fun project or work on a fun side project to reignite my creative side.”
“Whenever I’m in that situation, I believe it’s for a reason. So I try to find out what it is that’s bringing me down. A certain project or client? Not enough time for other things? Something completely different and unrelated? To me, that feeling means I have to change something, even if it’s just a little thing. Having the freedom to do so is one of the best things about being a freelancer in my book.”
“For myself it depends what is getting me down.
If the business of freelancing is getting overwhelming I just take a moment to myself, maybe spend the afternoon on a walk in the countryside with my dog and as cheesy as it sounds I find meditation helps.
Then if it’s a really bad wobble I use negative visualization and imagine how much worse life could be if I was in a dead end job doing work I hate for a boss I can’t stand. This soon puts me in a state of gratitude for what I have.
If it’s a creative slump I find myself fed up with particular client work or not feeling challenged, then it’s much easier to get my mojo back. I simply call up some friends, book a model and create some personal work for my portfolio, where I get to create what I want!”
“I’m part of an exclusive group of 12 entrepreneurs that are chosen every year. I find that being around similar minded people is both encouraging and interesting. Being with like minded people that live similar experiences and each one sharing what happened, what they did, client’s reactions etc etc. I meet with coaches once a month which has helped me start seeing things differently, get ideas and try new stuff. All of this is encouraging and gives a good boost to my morale.”
“I believe you lose the passion sometimes if your freelance work takes over your life. To counteract this a non pixel based hobby/interest is vital. I make narrow gauge model railways. Yes its’ a throwback to my childhood! But it includes engineering, crafting and creativity plus has its own separate world of people which allows me to re-energise myself.”
“I think being physically tired has a massive influence your motivation. On Sunday I was helping my dad plasterboard a room in their house all day, then I worked a very long day on Monday (6AM until 11:45PM). Needless to say that Tuesday was a proper sh*t day for me and anyone that who was around me. After 2 nights of decent sleep 2 days working 8:30am till 5pm day, I almost instantly got my “mojo” back.
Conclusion: Getting a decent amount of consistent rest and good brain energy food is key also!!”
“A supportive partner has been #1 for me – having someone behind you who believes in you even when things aren’t going the way you want. Also, podcasts and networking help too. Being able to surround yourself and talk it out with like minded people is key. You soon realise that your #firstworldproblems aren’t unique and there’s always a solution better than getting back in the rat race”
“For those of us, like me, who have also worked in ‘full time’ roles you probably regularly thought ‘I’ve got to get out of this rat race’. I know which I prefer and calling my life my own regularly motivates me.”
“I always find taking some time out to learn a new skill can make you more eager to work again. I recently made time for myself to learn some more node.js and that’s made me eager to jump back into things and test what I’ve learnt in the trenches.”
“What I would say is there are occasions things just get harder and harder and it’s those times when I take a break.
I don’t see any point fighting a rip tide. Better to go with it and turn up further down the beach.
So going for a run, the gym, a cycle, or for me a windsurf, blows the cobwebs away and sets me back on track. I know speaking with other this seems to be most effective.”
“I’ve been freelancing for around two years and have lost my solo mojo maybe three times in that period. Each for a very long time and I struggled to get it back. I tried to take on other people’s advice, which I found usually focussed on changes to personal life, taking time off, going for a run, going to the pub etc! For me this didn’t work as I knew that the work life I was going back to after hadn’t changed.
In order to get my working mojo back I knew something at work needed to change (despite the fact I love to work on my own etc etc). The dream is to get rid of sh*tty clients and only work with the awesome ones, but in reality this isn’t always possible when you rely on a certain income. So instead, I decided to focus on learning a new skill, or improving a skill I already had. I found this was the one thing that really got my solo working mojo back again. Feeling that I had something of extra value to give to clients, and something to add to my toolkit / skill set was very motivating for me. The training day before BrightonSEO came at a very good time!
The more I know, the more I learn, and the more value I can give to clients, the more pumped I am. If a month goes by where I haven’t learn something new, I think that’s where my mojo starts drifting a little. “
“Every time I come off a call recording a podcast episode for Being Freelance I feel pumped creatively and that feeds back into my work. Now, is that because I’ve been talking to a cool freelancer and enjoyed and been inspired by our chat – for sure… (okay, so not everyone’s got a podcast but you can find a way to get that interaction – another freelancer to speak to, chat things over and have fun in person or on a video call) but also I think it’s because my mind’s working on a creative side project of mine that isn’t to do with client video work. So maybe that helps kick me into gear too? I think it’s great to have something like a side project or a hobby, something you can do that fulfils you that isn’t your actual work. The positive energy you get from that will feed back into the ‘day job’.”
“Getting out of my chair is vital for me, even if it’s just standing up to work (which increases productivity in my case) or transporting my ‘desk’ somewhere else for the day. For example, the ‘reference room’ in our local library is a great place to work. I also try to make my weekends sacred, i.e. no client communication apart from the urgent ‘my website has totally disappeared’ kinda stuff. And when I feel really down about it all, have no inspiration and just can’t be bothered anymore, I take a total break. Even if it’s for a few hours, but preferably longer, to go outside and chill on the beach (literally… with thermals on as I live in Orkney lol!).”
“I envision getting a 9-5 again and quickly snap out of it at the thought of getting up early every day to go to an office where I will sit all day in a cubicle for at least 8 hours. Putting on pants every day is a scary thing!”
Col Skinner (Me)
“I have found my motivation dwindle from time to time. There hasn’t been a consistent reason for this but I have found that reminding myself of all the positives of self employment gives me a boost. Alternatively I will put my attention into something else for an hour or a full day until I feel I can face work again. That ‘something else’ may be writing a blog post like this or planning an event or simply doing a bit of DIY that I have been putting off. These things remind me that I am more than just my job or business and give the analytical side of my brain a break. I am planning on building my own cafe racer in the future that should be a very ‘offline’ hobby for those days where I cant bear to adult as a freelancer.”
Thank you to the 14 freelancers who contributed to the post. Readers: I hope you find one of the above tips works for you. Just remember that you are not alone and there is a superb network of solo workers out there who are happy to help or chat through your problems.
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Do you ever find your motivation or ‘solo mojo’ fails you? Comment below with any advice or tips that work for you.