Freelance In 40 Days [Day 36]: Stepping Outside of The Box

Posted: December 8th, 2009

Photo by Doctorious (Flickr)

Photo by Doctorious (Flickr)

This is Day 36 of the Freelance in 40 Days series where you’ll learn to freelance just by taking it one day and one task at a time. Today will be a lesson in stepping outside of the box as a freelancer.

Stepping outside the box, or letting our creative freedom roam wild isn’t something the new freelancer is use to. Surely the jobs we had prior to freelancing made sure this wasn’t the case… unless you were lucky enough to be an employee of Apple or Google.

One of the greatest freedoms we have as freelancers, however, is the ability to call our own shots… and do whatever we want.

i.e. freedom to step outside the box.

By learning to step outside the box as freelancers we not only open the door to more innovation in our work, but it also makes our work fun and interesting; something we actually look forward to doing.

The likelihood, however, is that many of us have been inside the box for so long, that we’ve taken up permanent residence there.

So it’s time to snap out of it and take that first step outside the box. Here are a few ways.

Forget Everything You Learned In School

Sure, there is always some practical knowledge from your education worth keeping in memory. The general basis of school and college, however, teaches you to do the same thing that others before you have done. In other words, it’s teaching you how to conform to the real world.

Being like everyone else is actually a hindrance to your career. You don’t set yourself apart as a freelancer, especially in the work you do. A result is you fall in the middle of the pack of mediocrity.

Mediocrity is not all bad and you can be successful regardless. But we want to be the best we can, don’t we?

So don’t rely on what others have done before you. Apply the practical knowledge you learn but blaze your own trail with your own ideas and apply them in your work.

Do The Opposite

The American TV viewers can probably relate but I constantly think about the Seinfeld episode where George does the exact opposite of his typical miserable ways to land a girl of his dreams plus a cushy job with the Yankees.

Even though this was done for a good laugh on TV, it is not a stretch to think that this could work in our own freelance careers too.

When you think about it, isn’t doing the exact opposite of our own routines essentially breaking down our comfort barriers and trying new things we aren’t used to?

You never know where those new things we try eventually lead us to.

Don’t Be Afraid To Fail

Failure is, by far, the biggest obstacle we as freelancers face in our careers.

The real truth is that failure also gives us our best lessons that we’ll never forget as freelancers. You see, freelancing is full of hot stoves waiting for us to slap our hand on. Sometimes they burn our hands right off.

Don’t get me wrong. Failures we have can wound the ego and even the bank account but we get over them, like our last boyfriend/girlfriend. Live and learn is a motto for our lives.

So happily embrace failure.

Have Fun

This can be best summed up in a quote by the great motivator, Tony Robbins:

“Have fun, be crazy, be weird. Go out and screw up! You’re going to anyway, so you might as well enjoy the process.”

While we definitely have to take the actual work we do seriously, there’s no reason we can’t make the process fun.

There’s a million ways to have fun… listen to polka music while you work, set up your workstation beside the street, or wake up each morning by singing Jingle Bells outside and at the top of your lungs.

That little bit of fun you make will translate into the work you do too.

Last Thing… Read This Article

Not too long ago, I came across an article on the CNN website on the five secrets of innovation. Learn a few interesting ideas from studies by major universities on how innovators, such as  Steve Jobs of Apple, actually do their thing.

More on the author, Johnny Spence
Johnny is the founder of The Freelance Rant and a freelance web programmer with 8 years in the business. Have a visit at his company Oscarrr!web or see what he's up to on Twitter.

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