The benefits of freelancing
Freelance consulting offers a range of benefits – good pay, a range of projects, working with new clients, however, one of the main rewards it offers is what some may argue is the world’s most valuable commodity (and always in short supply) – it gives you more time. In this day and age, where everything seems to be running on fast forward, more time is something we all crave but never manage to attain. If you stopped a passer-by on the street and offered them three wishes what would they wish for – wealth, fame or maybe just a Nando’s black card? The one notable exception, for the most part, will be the wish for more time. This isn’t because we don’t secretly all crave it, we’ve just grudgingly accepted it’s something we’re never going to achieve for most of our working lives.
It’s important to define what I mean by ‘more time’. Time is relative to how we choose to spend it – an hour spent commuting to work can’t equate to spending an hour doing something you truly love to do. ‘More time’ to me means being able to spend more time with friends and loved ones, to travel more or just being able to sit in the park and read a good book – basically doing all the things that make life worth living – let’s call this ‘golden time’.
The ‘golden time’ privilege
‘Golden time’ is being able to do the things you look back on at the end of the week and just say to yourself ‘it’s been a good week’. It could be as simple as painting a picture on a summery Wednesday afternoon or dropping your child to school every day, everyone has their own definition of what ‘golden time’ actually means to them. Some of my fondest memories in life are those occasions that happened as a result of having more ‘golden time’ – babysitting my niece for the first time after pulling a ‘sickie’ from work, taking a gap year and traveling through Cuba & Central America instead of jumping straight into a job after university – all things I wouldn’t have been able to do without this ‘golden time’. That’s not to say I don’t love what I do for work, on the contrary, I actually consider myself incredibly lucky to be doing a job I actually really care about – but if you were to ask me if I think I have enough ‘golden time’ in my week – I’d say probably not. I think it’s safe to say that I’m not alone feeling this way. Most of my friends are in high-flying city careers and every time we catch up they all have the same complaint – work’s great but I don’t have enough free time to do the stuff I really want to. It’s something I think you feel the older you get with big milestones acting as a period of reflection. I turn 30 next month and it’s got me thinking – how will I remember my 20’s? Did I really do everything I wanted to – if not, then what was stopping me?
In my opinion, being able to claw back more of this ‘golden time’ is probably one of the main and often most undervalued benefits of freelancing. This ability to earn some more ‘golden time’ is achieved through flexing work-life balance so that you’re able to continue sustaining your current standard of living (paying bills, mortgage, school fees etc.), but freeing up ‘work time’ and devoting it to all the pursuits that you’re most passionate about. This could be either through having the flexibility of only working certain months of the year or being firm with clients that you’re only going to working certain hours on a freelance project. In today’s work environment, so much emphasis is put onto achievements & promotions but I promise you this – show me someone who’s managed to build a healthy amount of regular ‘golden time’ into their weekly schedule and I’m confident their level of contentment will be unmatched versus so-called ‘high fliers’ in the city. When you manage to master the life of a freelance consultant, I’d firmly put you into this category. There isn’t a single category of ‘worker’ I’d classify as being more content with their personal and professional lives than freelancers who’ve mastered the art of switching off when not on a project and keeping ‘golden time’ sacred – no exceptions. The temptation will always be to feel ‘productive’ and scout out new channels for potential projects when you’re not working – but the fact is, if you’ve set yourself up properly and put in the hard graft to establish a strong network of potential employers, there will be regular occasions you can afford to switch off – a truly rare luxury in this day and age.
One of the main reasons I love the freelance space is because I get to meet some amazing freelancers who fill their ‘golden time’ doing some of the most amazing things imaginable. To that end – I’ll finish this piece by listing some of the best adventures and ‘golden time’ pursuits I’ve come across having met hundreds of freelancers over the last few years. Some might find some of these endeavours somewhat mundane, however, that’s what makes ‘golden time’ so amazing – something as simple as being able to spend time with family could be as rewarding and fulling as climbing Everest or running a marathon.
- Training and representing my country at the Ultimate Frisbee Championship
- Taking summer off to take the kids back to China so they can re-integrate with their roots
- Going coast to coast on my Harley Davidson
- Visiting 100+ countries
- Swimming the channel and great lakes
- Launching a start-up that’s going to change the world
- Flying half-way around the world to see my favourite band perform their new album
- Finish my work by 5 pm every day so I can train for the marathon with my 18-year-old son
- Hiring a mustang and doing the route 101 road trip
- Helping my wife for every bedtime during our toddler’s terrible two’s