Seven months ago, when I was starting, I thought:
I need to work with as many companies and people as possible, even if they don’t appreciate my work, and take on any job that comes my way, even if it doesn’t help me improve or advance in my freelancing career because I need the money. Just pay me.
Now that I’ve been doing this for seven months and have a few clients and more opportunities than I have time on the horizon, I’m shifting my perspective from trying to work for anyone and everyone to focusing on a smaller but sustainable market. I’m asking myself, How do I become a “meaningful specific” rather than a “wandering generality?” Rather than striving for the largest possible customer base, I see smaller markets that can support me with work that I view as more beneficial.
For instance, now I think it’s doable to be working with, say, six companies and a few people at each who appreciate my work and allow me to develop the skills I’m striving to improve. And the business from each can keep me busy with meaningful work that aligns with my personal and professional growth goals. This approach allows me to level up even if, in the short term, it feels like growth will slow down. I know that in the long run it will deliver me where I want to be.
Life can be uncertain, full of ups and downs, tragedies, and unforeseen events that can quickly derail us from our path. But amidst all the changes and chaos, there’s a thread that we must follow. It may not always be clear to others, but we must explain and hold onto it tightly. This thread gives us direction and helps us stay grounded, even when the world seems to be falling apart. Time may pass, and we may face many challenges, but we must never let go of our thread. It keeps us moving forward, even when everything else holds us back.
Long term goals, dreams, and intentions are worthy but only eventuate because of my short term actions.
Life is a series of short terms that make the long term, but if all you’re doing is maximizing in the short term, you’re going to break the system, and your short term will feel unnecessarily stressful while your long term will go to hell.
What are you doing in the short term to advance your long term goals?
I can allow time to trickle through my fingers as I scroll reels, binge-watch Netflix, or deep dive down an alt-news rabbit hole, or I can do the things I’m glad to have done. Let’s list what we are glad we did last week.
As a freelancer trying to balance a day job and parenting, I find it challenging to find the time and resources to do my best work. It’s easy to feel discouraged and wish for complete freedom and flexibility.
I’ve realized that limitations and constraints are a normal part of the process. Rather than seeing them as roadblocks, I’m learning to embrace them as opportunities to get creative and find new ways to succeed.
I’ve already demonstrated my dedication by waking up at 4:30 to work on my projects, and I plan to continue putting in the effort.
I believe I can produce my best work by leveraging the boundaries and scarcity I’m facing. With a shift in perspective and a willingness to make the most of what I have available, I’m confident I can thrive as a freelancer while balancing my other responsibilities.
I might fall into the trap of shooting for someone else’s vision of success. I might seize an opportunity because I can, not because it’s what I want. I can, but I don’t want to have is a disappointing outcome that fails. It reminds me that ambition is on a sliding scale and to keep refining it.
I won’t wait for the opportunity to arrive at my door. Instead, it’s more like an invite. I will start walking down the road to greet it, one foot in front of the other.
We each possess our unique baseball swing.
It’s ours at birth.
Our swing doesn’t materially change.
As Babe Ruth has the Babe Ruth swing, and Ted William’s has the Ted Williams swing. We have our swings.
Even if we’ve never picked up a baseball bat.
The metaphor is our authentic self.
Each of us has one, and only one, swing (self) that is “authentic” to us.
The worst thing that can happen is to lose this.
Losing our authentic swing (self) is losing our soul, identity, and vision of ourselves.
We swing and miss. Whiff. Strikeout. Slump and feel cursed. Ask why?
The best-intentioned search for wisdom is worthless.
Because when “all is lost,” the only work is to regain trust in our swing (self).
We will always find what we need by picking up a baseball bat and taking as many swings as necessary until we rediscover what’s already ours.
Our swing (self)
Let’s talk about the purpose of school in the face of ChatGPT disruption.
Here’s a simple yet powerful first step: students should watch lectures and explanations at home and do homework in class — no more boring worksheets.
The focus should be on asking questions, having discussions, and doing hands-on activities in class. This way, students can discuss and question what they’ve learned, be graded on their contribution, and show up ready.
This approach encourages young people to take the initiative and think deeply about what they are learning (and are interested in pursuing). School is already failing, and this is what, I believe, ChatGPT threatens. It can potentially encourage more unengaged thinking and makes it all the easier to “get it done” without real learning and investment.
Speaking specifically of writing, I assert that we no longer need mediocre essays. ChatGPT can write mediocre essays for you in seconds. Let’s ditch the essay altogether. Instead, let’s teach young people to write thoughtfully about what matters to them — no more essay assignments for a grade the teacher doesn’t want to read. Mediocre writing is one of the first things AI will replace. Remember that writing is life work, not desk work. Let’s teach and learn accordingly.
I hear the fear in many conversations about ChatGPT and AI in general. I think the proliferation of AI will create a need for people who can bring insight and gumption to exciting problems. For now, that is uniquely human, and perhaps a first step to developing that kind of people is restructuring the school day to emphasize this need. This will help students shift their attitude from “Will this be on the test?” to using their education as a platform for positive change in their small domain.
I’ve been working with a local nonprofit. I’m learning a lot, and it’s rewarding. Here are some notes.
In general, nonprofits often struggle to spread their message and get people to take action. There are likely several reasons, which is a separate post altogether. I’m sharing today from the freelance writer/marketer position hired to help them spread an idea and prompt action.
Here are a couple of critical factors that motivate people to share ideas. People share ideas because they want to feel generous and desire to see the nonprofit succeed.
Consider the actions people take to support a non-profit. It’s important to note that taking action and spreading the word is interchangeable and valuable.
- People will donate money
- People will volunteer time
- People will share with a friend because they know it’s a helpful resource
- People will spread awareness about the cause or mission
- People will give a compliment for the work that is accomplished
Each of these actions is driven by a desire to help, to make a positive impact, and to see this nonprofit thrive.
Especially if your business or nonprofit…
- mentors young people or positively impacts them,
- offer support to someone in need,
- offers service to help a stranger with a task, or
- shares valuable knowledge and skills with others.
If you do these things, you need to highlight them so that it’s sharable in the first place. You have to serve the story to them so it’s easy to share.
Yet spreading the word about a nonprofit is more than asking for help. It’s about inspiring people to care about your cause and to feel invested in your success. When people believe in what you’re doing and see the impact of your work, they’ll naturally want to share it with others in any of those (above) methods.
Working with this local nonprofit, I’ve seen this firsthand. It starts with sharing a story in the context of the mission. Doing so offers the public a ticket to vote for your support which helps reach more people and make a more significant impact.
So if you’re looking to spread your nonprofit’s message, which can very likely apply to your for-profit cause, remember this: focus on inspiring generosity and demonstrating the impact of your work. People who feel invested in your success will be eager to share your message.