Freelance and remote working are not exactly interchangeable terms. But, they do have many things in common:
- the need to be free to manage your own time
- to be location independent
- the choice to put lifestyle before career
- and, ultimately, to be the one who calls the shots.
However, everything has a flip side – The yin vs the yang.
As Uncle Ben from Spiderman says, with power (freedom and independence), comes great responsibility. We as remote workers, need to be responsible for our success.
The struggle, then, is how to stay motivated – to be responsible…to work every morning, every night, every day. Nobody else would tell us to do our work. When it gets overwhelming it’s easy to forget about our purpose, but we can’t just stop.
Having experienced this myself and by reading interviews of other freelancers and remote workers, I can say that this struggle is real.
Freelancing/Remote work is a lifestyle and it’s not for everybody. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart. You must have self-discipline. Otherwise, you don’t stand a chance.
Some months money can be tight…like REAL tight. And, you need to be willing to go through such hardship and keep yourself motivated to work, even if it doesn’t seem worth it in that moment.
It can even be really depressing. There are times you don’t even want to start the day, but, rather you just want to hide under your blanket, away from the world.
During those times it’s extra hard to stay motivated. Sometimes, you simply give in to laziness. You binge watch Netflix, rather than get to work.
It happens to me and I know to you too.
During my decade-long experience as a freelance remote worker, I had many ups and downs. I’ve been through financial and emotional instability.
Yet, here I am still living this lifestyle.
How did I make it through?
Here are the 5 main strategies that proved the most effective at boosting up my daily motivation. No matter where I was, who I was with, or how I felt, these strategies have helped me to be and to stay a successful digital nomad.
I’m happy to share this experience exclusively for the amazing, useful resource that remotemuch.com is for all of us who chose a world without boundaries VS a daily office cubicle.
1) Always remember the WHY in order to Stay Motivated
This seems obvious, but it’s not.
Actually, when you are caught up in several gigs at the same time and overwhelmed by the constant self marketing, developing of personal branding, and searching for work non-stop – at times without great financial return – you may really ask yourself why the hell you’re not working a 9 to 5. At least you’d know when your day is over and
when you can switch off your brain.
When you freelance that doesn’t really happen. It can be emotionally and
intellectually draining to never truly switch off. It makes it hard to stay motivated.
But then: would you really want to wake up at the same time every morning, dressed up like someone else, bust your ass for someone else’s vision, be locked in the same office space every day, having to compete with colleagues for your boss’ crumbs. Then, repeat this EVERY. SINGLE. DAY?
I call BS!
That’s WHY you practice self-discipline and get to work everyday in your home office, co-working space or café with WIFI. Because the freedom to be your own boss is priceless. Because you want to do things on your own terms and at your own pace.
2) Overcome the FOMO when you work remotely
Especially when traveling, you must accept that you can never fully disconnect, you may not be able to go to all the parties, watch the sunset/sunrise, attend social gatherings, or even to simply enjoy a day at the beach. Sometimes you got to pass things up because you have to work.
You are in that “working vacation” mode and if you think about it, it’s fucking great!
Of course, if you compare yourself to the people you meet and who are truly on vacation, that may be when you’ll get that FOMO feeling.
So, stop comparing your self to other people. This won’t serve you. It won’t help you stay motivated.
Think of this: you are traveling around beautiful places by working remotely from your laptop. It’s a huge accomplishment and not everybody can do it. So, don’t be disturbed by what others are doing. Forget FOMO!
Look at your surroundings and the life you are living: this should be your massive motivator to get up every morning and do your best at working and finding new jobs. You may not be in constant vacation mode but if you’re able to maintain this lifestyle, you’ll be able to work from a beach, travel the world, and meet new and interesting people.
3) Stay Present, Stay Motivated
Anxiety is the fear of the future. Depression is lingering in the past.
Both of them are wrong and painful – they are total motivation killers.
The future is not here and we can’t change the past. And, the more we get stuck in one of the two or in both, the more we get mentally frozen and our motivation goes down.
So, we have one choice: work with what we have…the present.
Staying present allows you to look at the things you have to do, be able to list them out, and focus on them, one task at a time.
I’m an anxious person and have a tendency to think about all the stuff I have to do at the same time.
Before, I was never fully into what I was doing because I was already thinking of how to “fix that little thing once I get to that other project.” The result: none of my jobs had my 100%. And, I used to be more exhausted by the mental rumination about “what’s next” than by the actual work.
I couldn’t go on that way. I knew I had to do something…to stay present.
Meditation helped me greatly to practice staying present. I’ve been meditating for about 2 years now and it feels so good. It’s become a great motivator to start my day, even when traveling.
The more I practice meditation, the more I’m able to apply “staying present” to my work. To do things one thing at a time and to devote my full concentration on it.
Staying present and meditating helped me stay motivated. Now, each of my projects have my 100 percent.
4) Get out there and create your own routine
If, like me, you mainly work from home – whether temporary or long term –
I’m sure you had days like this:
- you never step out of the house
- you were still in your PJ at 6 pm
- and…yeah maybe you forgot to eat lunch too!
But Hey! Isn’t this part of why to switch from being a “regular” employee to freelancer/remote worker? To living the nomadic lifestyle?
Yes! Absolutely…but trust me, you usually don’t want to be doing this all the time.
If this becomes the norm, you might have a problem. Locking yourself up home with the Internet as your sole window to the world will ultimately destroy your motivation.
After years of “home-officing” I knew that I needed some structure. In order to be successful at what I do, I’ve developed some kind of routine – I need to get up around a certain time, have breakfast, meditate, work-out, shower, and dress.
The PJ-couch-lazy type of working can only last for so long. After a while you don’t know what you’re supposed to do anymore, what your priorities are, and less and less you’ll know what to start your day with.
To stay motivated you need have a routine. It helps not only with structure but also to provide some professionalism with your work. Of course, you have to make it your own – you’re your own boss after all.
This doesn’t mean that you make your lifestyle become so rigid. You also need to breath fresh air, to meet with people, hear others’ opinions, hang out, party, and be a part of your current location’s lifestyle.
You should listen to people’s stories and explore places, even within your own city.
Try to see or experience something new every day.
In other words, you need to create your own routine. Create this structure but make it fun and spontaneous. You’re not a 9 to 5 worker, so, you can go with the flow. Your schedule can change according to your needs, location and personal evolution.
You’re routine can be flexible. But, more importantly, to stay motivated, you gotta have one.
5) Transform envy into inspiration
Now this is a tricky one. And maybe it’s not that common, but it’s something I’d had to deal with.
Many of us these days open Instagram or our other social media accounts first thing in the morning.
Even though we all know that what we see is a curated view of the “best” thing about people, we still can’t help but get that feeling of envy.
Every time scroll down, we see people seem to have what we want. We get this bad feeling of “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”
However, this is useless and, honestly, quite pathetic.
I’ve struggled with it myself: I would get the feeling that my life was never as good as the lives the people I see on my socials. For a while, this totally crushed my motivation. Even if I was working from a hammock in Mexico! (Humble brag ;)).
Seriously though, I reached a point where it was actually physically painful to look at all those “amazing” lives.
It took time, but I’ve put in the work in transforming my envy into inspiration. I though to myself:
“if that’s where I wanted to be and if those were the things I wanted to do, what good would envy do in achieving those objectives?”
The answer — ZERO!
So, instead of getting envious and letting what I see suck out my motivation, I turned it on its head instead. I turned envy into curiosity. I started analyzing the way these people were doing things. For example, how are they marketing themselves or their services?
The more I’ve analyzed their ways, the more they turned into inspiring resources. Instead of getting jealous of what I see, I turned what I see into goals. It happened very naturally and it stayed.
Now, when I open my eyes and check Instagram, it literally acts as a kick out of bed, because I want to do and be my best to achieve my goals.
For all of you who want to live as remote freelancers, I strongly advice you to grab the Remote Much Guide. It’s probably the most extensive list of remote work platforms, tips, interviews, etc that exist out there now. It’s an extra valuable resource to stay motivated to start/maintain your remote lifestyle!
In the past 5 years I've been a full time digital nomad, being based between Miami, Tulum, Barcelona and Ibiza.
I hold a BA in Art History and an MA in Art Management.
I have over a decade of professional experience in art curating and content writing, copywriting and digital marketing for the art and creative industries.
I am mainly self-taught because I believe the best way to learn something is by doing it. I've mostly worked independently as I don't dig authority, hierarchies and uniforms.
DIY is my lifestyle's philosophy, my vision for creativity and work ethic.
My writing specializes in contemporary culture and trends editorials; artists and creative people interviews and profile articles; exhibitions and events reviews.
After years of first-hand experience, I've recently started writing tips and stories about freelancing, remote working, creative entrepreneurship and how to successfully live the digital nomad lifestyle.
I'm currently in the process of making Berlin my home-base.