reading-a-book-in-winter

I’ve been thinking a lot about how the ebb and flow of scarcity versus abundance affects my entire life. This is a mind-set we’re taught to put on from an early age—one of those subtle rules we assign meaning to in some way or another, whether it’s scarcity-thinking of finances, possessions, time, friendships . . . it truly devours and gnaws away at us, to the point where abundance is always an arm’s length away.

I’ve been freelancing now for a few weeks, and I’ve been blown away by the abundance of projects and work I wasn’t anticipating. It’s been so nice, and honestly, I didn’t expect this cushion. Now that I have it so soon, however, my grip tightens. What if it’s not enough in a month—four months? It’s feast or famine. What if, just before I take a breath and know I’ve officially settled into this transition, something is taken away? These past few weeks have been a dream. When will the other shoe drop?

Scarcity-Thinking Steals Joy

I think people pursuing ambition always have to fight away the monster of scarcity-thinking. It steals joy and replaces it with fear and anxiety. A scarcity mind-set is carved out of a purely physical perspective, even if it’s just time on this earth and not having enough of it. Being a freelancer full time again means I’m trying to figure out those healthy boundaries of work and life, and while being protective of my time is a necessary step, it’s easy to peer through the lens of “only.” I only have this much time to spend with friends. How will I manage my time? If I have all of these editing projects now, I’ll only have a few to work on later. What will I do then?

In My Reading Life

I’ve even noticed the scarcity mind-set creeping into my reading life. Not having enough time to read means I’m paralyzed from picking up my next book, even when I try to make time for myself. There’s always something different—something better—I should be spending my time on. I’m a reader who reads when relaxed, not a reader who reads to relax. I have to feel as though I’m in a place of abundance—spiritually, mentally, emotionally—before I can really dig in, quiet my brain, and enjoy a good book.

While reflecting on this word only, I remember Jesus feeding the five thousand (Matthew 14:13-21). The disciples know what scarcity looks like.

“‘We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,’ they answered” (Matthew 14:17).

But what happened? Jesus gave thanks and broke the loaves. He gave them to the disciples to scatter among the people, and “they all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over” (Matthew 14: 20-21).

The Abundance Mind-set

Jesus came to give abundant life (John 10:10), and I can put on an abundance mind-set because of his generosity—trusting that even the leftovers of the abundance of Jesus are far greater than the scarcity the world offers. I don’t have to worry or be frustrated, and what’s more: I don’t have to scrap the bottom of the barrel. I can dare greatly, and I can rest—even in the possibility of failure and falling. There’s freedom to fail when you aren’t clawing for a false security. And when we aren’t afraid to fail, we can be vulnerable, creative, joyful, generous, and alive.

4 THINGS I’VE LEARNED AS A BIZ BOSS LADY

I can’t believe how much this little brain-child business of mine has grown in the past year. I’m humbled and honored to walk alongside authors, publishers, and business professionals on their publishing journeys and creative project goals! I’ve learned a lot over the past year about what it means to be a freelance editor and writer—and a lot of what I’ve learned has nothing to do with editing or publishing. It’s amazing how our professional lives can spill out into our personal lives!

As a freelancer, I’ve learned the following:

1. YOU CANNOT SWEEP WORK STRESS UNDER THE RUG.

Because I try to maintain a healthy work-life balance, it’s easy for me to neglect the stress of deadlines or client interactions when five o’clock rolls around. Unfortunately, sweeping stress under the rug means I look completely relaxed on the outside, when I’m actually feeling the pressure and stress on the inside. I can’t totally “leave the office” and adopt the out-of-sight-out-of-mind attitude that most people can cling to in the evenings or on the weekends.

As a result, I realized I needed to communicate my deadlines and crazy schedule to my dear husband, who, unfortunately, cannot read my mind. It sounds silly, but it took a while to figure this one out. My coping mechanism to all the stress—and the way I procrastinated—was to pretend the pressure to deliver didn’t exist, and that I was free as a bird. I’ve learned that it’s important to acknowledge the pressure for so many reasons. It’s actually freeing to admit when things are a little crazy. And guess what? My husband wants to care for me during the busy seasons and help me carry some of the load, so finally blurting out just how busy I am is actually a huge relief. Dealing with the stress and being honest with myself—and my spouse—removes some of the burden. Imagine that!

2. THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE SAVES LIVES. 

Okay, so it doesn’t actually save lives, but I’ve found that timing myself—particularly in twenty-five-minute increments and little breaks in between—is a wonderful way to boost productivity. Editing is a meticulous process that demands total concentration and strains the eyes. Giving myself five-minute breaks or fifteen-minute breaks helps me stick with it in the long run. It really is like a marathon, not a sprint. Having a timer to keep me on track of projects is also immensely helpful—not only to limit distractions, but also to track my hours for future estimates and quotes. I’ve really gotten into a rhythm; I know how long a certain type of editing or project will take me, which really makes all the difference with scheduling.

3. PEOPLE WON’T ALWAYS “GET IT.” 

As a freelancer who works from home, people tend to automatically assume I have a ton of flexibility and that I set my own hours. It’s true that I do have some flexibility—I can usually schedule doctors’ appointments during the day and go grocery shopping at 11 a.m.—but that doesn’t always mean I have hours to kill with my friends at the coffee shop or that I’m down with unexpected visits during the work day.

I may work in my PJs most of the time (it’s true!), but I promise you: I am working hustling. I’ve had to learn that people won’t always understand what it means to work from home as a freelancer, so I need to set appropriate boundaries and protect my home office time.

4. IT’S WORTH IT TO GO THE EXTRA MILE. 

I know this is a cliché, but it’s so true: It’s so important to go the extra mile with clients. There’s no greater feeling than exceeding clients’ expectations. If I’m working 59 hours on a project, I want to make it count. Why coast your way through, only to deliver a half-assed job? When you go the extra mile, it is not only satisfying to receive positive feedback, but your clients stick around.

Disclaimer: Going the extra mile ≠ an unhealthy pursuit of perfection.

In my business, editing and revising is all about the process. Sometimes, there are drafts upon drafts before a better product emerges. And guess what? That’s okay. In fact, that’s where the magic happens. One thing I’ve learned as a biz boss lady is that there’s no way to kill off joy and creativity faster than trying to be a perfectionist. Even as an expert in your field, there is always more to learn. In fact, I think it does a huge disservice to your clients to assume otherwise.

Continued education is huge, so don’t stress over reaching that moment when you’ve officially “arrived.” Keep striving toward different goals, refining your process and skills, and giving yourself time and grace to learn new things.

Freelancer friends: How do you manage stress and *own it* as a boss? What wisdom can you share for aspiring freelancers? I’d love to hear your thoughts!