There’s an old saying that luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. I like this proactive definition of luck—that it’s not about kicking back and waiting for good things to happen, but about going out and laying a solid foundation of preparation for yourself so when opportunity does knock, you can answer. Here are 19 ways to create a little freelance luck for yourself.
1. Be Open to Opportunity: You never know when opportunity will knock or what it will look like. Maybe it will be a conversation with the small business owner down the hall, or a chat with someone in line at the bank. Be open to random opportunities.
2. Talk About What You Do: If you’re not tooting your own horn, nobody else is going to do it. Figure out a way to talk about what you do in a way that’s comfortable for you and feels authentic. If you’re not comfortable talking about your work, maybe it’s time to reevaluate whether it’s a good fit for you.
3. Support Other Freelancers: Supporting other freelancers is a key aspect of creating a thriving freelance ecosystem that includes you too. We’re not each others competition, we’re each others network. Take care of those around you and they’ll take care of you. Further reading: 7 Ways to Support Other Freelancers (and Why You Should)
4. Build Bridges, Don’t Burn Them: As a freelancer, your network is vitally important. Make sure you’re constantly building bridges between people, movements, and ideas. And be careful not to burn bridges behind you. It’s better to walk away gracefully than leave a fiery mess that may come back to haunt you.
5. Go to Events: Get out of your bubble. The stereotype of a freelancer is someone working from home in their pajamas, but freelancers of the future are out and about, connecting, meeting, facilitating, networking, putting themselves out into the community. Get out into your community and see what’s going on.
6. Keep Expanding Your Comfort Zone: There’s a great Neale Donald Walsh quote that reads, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I’ve found this to be true. Every time I move beyond my comfort zone, I’m met by opportunities and lessons and challenges that enrich my life and career. Moving beyond your comfort zone is not always pretty and it’s not always fun, but staying in your comfort zone is a sure path to stagnancy.
7. Face-to-Face Meetings: Google Hangout and Skype and FaceTime are all great, but be sure you’re spending face-to-face time with clients and/or people in your network when possible. There’s something about being in the same space that is lost in online meetings. I am incredibly grateful for the tech tools that allow us to connect virtually, but I also mix in coffee meetings and face-to-face interviews.
8. Be Reliable: Part of being lucky is being top-of-mind when people need someone with your skillset. And part of being top-of-mind is being responsive, reliable and responsible. Hit your deadlines, communicate any issues, return emails, be proactive, prioritize your relationships with people. Returning an email usually only takes a minute, but not doing so leaves someone on the other end hanging and sends the message that either you’re overwhelmed, flakey, or you just don’t care. Do you think the person you left hanging is going to think of you next time around? Probably not.
9. Get (and Stay) Organized: Freelancing involves pitching, bookkeeping, writing, creating, communicating, networking, billing, promotion…and a whole lot more. Find an organizational system that works for you and stick with it. Use a calendar to keep track of deadlines, a to-do list or app to stay on track, Evernote to keep track of progress, the Pomodoro technique to increase your efficiency. There are tons of productivity and organizational apps and tools. Lock in to the ones that work for you. Further reading: Boost Your Freelance Productivity with This Easy Scheduling Hack
10. Have an Attitude of Gratitude: I saw a magnet in a coffee shop in Felton, California years ago, and it stuck with me. It read, “Abundance is an attitude, and the attitude is gratitude.” If you cultivate an attitude of gratitude for what you have, you’re already living in abundance. This is true for freelancing as well. Be grateful for what you have, for what you’ve learned, for where you are in your own career, and you will attract more abundance…and luck.
11. Get Rid of Self-Defeating Thoughts: You know those thoughts that hit you in the middle of the night that make you question your big picture decisions: Who am I to think I can pull off this freelance thing? What the hell am I even doing? What if it all goes bad? Banish those thoughts. You attract what you visualize and visualizing negative stuff does nothing but attract negative stuff. Even if things are not going well, putting self-defeating thoughts on repeat in your mind is not going to solve anything.
12. Visualize Your Best Self: The flip side to getting rid of self-defeating thoughts is to visualize your best self living your best life. What is your magnificent vision for your life? Work you love? A career that gives you time and freedom to pursue your passions? The soul-stirring joy that comes with being your own boss? Hold this vision in your mind even—especially—when things are not going well. Repeatedly aligning with your vision creates a space in your mind, your life, and the universe, for you to manifest it.
13. Connect People: Be that person who is connects people to those who they can learn from, collaborate with, and work for. This makes you a giver and connector in your community, which is an awesome, beautiful, inspiring thing. Connect without thought of reciprocation. Give of your time without wondering what you’ll get out of it. It’s a great way to keep the community energy moving and stoke the fire of your own career. The more you give, the more good stuff comes your way.
14. Never Stop Learning: Be sure you’re always furthering your work and bettering yourself. Read books, read blog posts, listen to podcasts, attend workshops, ask questions. Get and stay tuned in to all the wisdom and information available to us.
15. Hustle Like Mad: Work hard, get shit done, wake up ready to hustle, make a to-do list and stick to it. Do this and luck will find you. There’s something about someone who’s working hard to manifest their vision that attracts others.
16. Make Time to Relax: As important as hustling is, equally important is making time to relax. This is a tricky one for freelancers and it’s easy to get caught up in the trap of working all the time, because there’s always work to be done. Carve out time to not work. Make space in your life to relax. Schedule days away from your desk. You’ll return to work refreshed and inspired, ready to attract opportunities.
17. Take Care of Your Mind and Body: On the heels of relaxing your body, make sure you’re taking care of your mind and body as well. Make time for exercise, meditation, yoga, walks, whatever makes you feel good. Don’t fit this in around work, schedule it and do it as you would any other item on your schedule. Make sure you’re getting fruits and veggies, and lots of water. The better you feel, the better work you’ll do, and the more luck you’ll attract.
18. Follow-Up with People: If you tell someone you’ll send them an email, or give them a call, or connect with them, do it. It’s that simple. Communicate clearly what you’re willing to do, then do it.
19. Ask for Help (and Accept It When It’s Offered): Asking for help is not always easy, but it’s an essential part of being human. We would be nothing without the help of others. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and when it’s offered, count your lucky stars and say, Yes, please! The flip side of asking for help is being available when others need your help. Whenever possible, jump in and lend a hand.
Photo by Jonathan Kriz (CC-BY-20)