You can achieve freelance success if you really WANT it. Discuss.

Talk to almost any freelancer and he or she will tell you they really want to succeed.

But there are many different degrees of “wanting” something.

As a coach, working with freelancers almost daily, I often hear about how badly people want to succeed.

But the word,”want” is inadequate to the task of expressing what it really means to want something.

I want some ice cream for dessert.

I want to go away for the weekend.

I want my children to grow up healthy, happy and wise.

The degree to which I want ice cream is insignificant compared to how much I want my children to grow up healthy, happy and wise.

A little while ago I was talking with some family and friends over dinner, and we were sharing stories about how some people we know had overcome major life obstacles like drug addiction and mental illness.

The individuals who had overcome these challenges had succeeded because they really, really wanted to. They didn’t succeed as a result of taking medication or going through a 12-step program. They succeeded because they decided to. They chose to, because they had a burning desire to move on and have a better life.

I’m not suggesting everyone facing these circumstances can do the same. But I do know some people who have.

That’s a whole different level of “wanting” than simply wanting some ice cream.

When I look at immensely successful freelancers and entrepreneurs, I suspect they are driven by an equally powerful desire to succeed. It simply isn’t sufficient to say that they just “want” to succeed.

This now begs the question: How can one tap into this deeper, more powerful level of wanting something?

Unfortunately, I don’t have an easy answer to that.

But I do think it has a lot to do with the value of the intrinsic reward anticiapted.

If someone addicted to drugs can take a moment to look forward a few years, and see the enormous benefits of a life free from drugs, they can see clearly the reward they can achieve.

If the person with a mental illness can envision the improvement to their close, personal relationships that could come with full recovery, that’s another, powerful intrinsic reward.

As a freelancer you can work through a similar exercise.

Look to the future and visualize a change in your life that would be of huge and real value to you. I’m not talking about making money. Money is an extrinsic reward. Think about the intrinsic rewards – things like a sense of personal accomplishment, the admiration of your family, the fulfillment of a childhood dream, the repudiation of those who say you can’t succeed.

To tap into the power of really wanting something, you have to be able to anticipate a massive, intrinsic reward at some point in the future.

This is an exercise I often go through with my coaching clients, and it might be something you could do for yourself.

Go for a walk, or sit somewhere quiet, and envision some powerful, intrinsic rewards that would come from succeeding as a freelancer.

Then pick the most powerful reward of all, and hold it close, every day.

3 thoughts on “You can achieve freelance success if you really WANT it. Discuss.”

  1. For those who have overcome such things as substance addiction or behavioral compulsion, there was usually a point at which they realized, not what the potential (extrinsic?) rewards would be of a (name your poison)-free existence, but that things could not get any worse. The common term, I believe, is “hitting bottom.” Once they could finally understand that their undesirable overall situation was a direct consequence of their immediate actions, however comfortable or good they may have been able to feel in the moment (a kind intrinsic reward, don’t you think?), they acquired the option of improving their lot by a variety of methods.

    A recovering alcoholic once explained to me that, when he was drunk, his problems did not, in his mind, “go away,” they were not “deferred” until later, they simply ceased to exist. Once he’d bottomed out, he was able to understand that, in fact, his drinking was itself an avoidance behavior. He suddenly had the choice to deal with stressful things that reinforced his addiction, and acted accordingly. It was continuously difficult, but he met with success.

    Your analogy is apt, and while it’s true not everyone manages to arrive at the critical point, or even recognize it and make appropriate decisions once there, some people do make conscious, even informed decisions after weighing the consequences of various pathways to “success” and choose to redefine “success” as something that may or may not include some of those extrinsic rewards we think we want. I want to be wealthy, but most of the pathways open to me are not conducive to acceptable behavior or leave me open to an unacceptable level of risk, and so I choose not to go there. I guess, in your terms, that means that I do not “want” success enough to attain it.

  2. Thanks, in part, to your help (as a coach), Nick, I did decide I want to be successful.

    And sometimes that realization comes, not in or during coaching. But long after, once you have the time to “stew” about it for a while.

    I am on my road to being successful. Not just wealthy. Well, yes wealthy–but that’s not what I initially saw as my goal.

    My goal is a the process of accomplishing success. Resulting in a huge job well-done. “A repudiation of those who say you can’t succeed.”

    For me, coaching with you, and some others, led to my mindset re-set and it wasn’t something I just said “OK, now I’ll be successful.” It’s hard to describe, but over time I realized I absolutely could be successful.

    One important idea I have to keep in front of me at all times is, “Will this action take me closer to my goal or further away from my goal.”

    Just FYI.

  3. As a business woman first and a writer second, you’re right. It’s sheer force of will some days to stick to my plan. I absolutely know if I keep going, I can achieve my goals. As my Buddhist friend says, Determination has a shelf life of three days. Great reminder!


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