6 ways to be a more disciplined freelancer

One Friday afternoon, I sat down with my coffee and planner. Got a little motivated to list down my schedule, priorities and upskilling plans for next week.  Here comes Monday doing what I planned but upon checking my to-do list. I end up with only 3 accomplished things out of 10 that I wrote down.  With my great despair, I searched for some motivational videos and ended up with this video of Thomas Frank. A YouTuber, author, musician, and the creator and main writer at College Info Geek website. Having an office-based fulltime job and side hustles of freelancing gigs. I know this one’s make sense to freelancers like me.  Thomas ran down 6 ways to be a more disciplined freelancer.

The first thing Thomas Frank mentioned in the video is to set a clear definition of self-discipline.  According to his research of the meaning that he got from a writer, Samuel Thomas Davies.

“Self-discipline is about leaning into resistance.  Taking action in spite of how you feel. Living a life by design, not by default.  But most importantly, it’s acting in accordance with your thoughts – not your feelings.“

The second thing he clarified is how self-discipline differs from motivation and he said that

“Motivation is your overall level of desire to do something whereas discipline is your ability to do it regardless of how you feel.” 

So let’s see more of these life-changing ways to inculcate discipline in our mind and body.

Focus on Identity

When you want to change your behavior, don’t put so much focus on your goals. Instead focus on the change in identity you want to happen.  An example he cited from the book he read entitled Atomic Habits.

There were two persons that would like to stop smoking and have been offered a cigarette. 

The one said, “No thanks, I’m trying to quit.” but the other one declined to say, “No thanks,  I’m not a smoker.” 

Once you’ve embraced a change in your identity you will find yourself doing the change you want.  To make this testimony stronger he cited again another book entitled Influence,

The Psychology of Persuasion, written there is, “Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment. 

Those pressures will cause us to respond in ways that justify our early decision.”  Overall, Thomas said that giving attention first in shifting mindset and embracing the changed identity you want to be will eventually lead you into your goals.

Create Reminders

Frequent reminder for yourself to why you are being disciplined will also help.  Thomas got this inspirational concept from the life experience of an actor, Jim Carey.  In the early entertainment career of Jim, one day he took out a napkin and he drew himself a check made out to himself for $10 million and posted for 10 years in the future. 

He put that check in his wallet so that every time he’d bring out his wallet, he could see it and remind himself of why he is working so hard.

In relevance, you may write down in a sticky note or make a dream board.

Put it on your working table or to your computer desktop so you would be able to see it a lot of times.  Make a reminder action for these are the reasons why you are building self-discipline.

Embrace the Discomfort

Find ways to like the things that you don’t like doing.  Cold showers in the morning are not usually what most people love to do.  Choosing to take cold over the hot shower is a way of embracing discomfort and disregarding your resistance.  You can simply start on waking up early at 6:00 am, taking the stairs instead of the elevators, not staying up late and going to bed early or working without a sideline of visiting social media.

Eventually, these small habits will practice you to always take on the challenge of doing herculean and hard projects. These are beneficial for your career move.

Target the Fundamentals

To target the fundamentals first means to pay attention first on your biological needs like sleep, nutrition, and exercise.  It is a must to observe your self acquiring enough rest and energy. This is fo your brain to function well to whatever you need to accomplish.  Putting in the right inputs will result in the right outputs.

Lack of sleep, a crappy diet and a stagnant body with no exercise which most freelancers are guilty of can put your brain system down. Which is vital because it dictates your whole body to function.  Put discipline first onto these things necessary for your overall well-being.

Practice Zazen

Many say that meditation helps to improve the level of self-discipline.  Thomas mentioned that

“In 2013 study at Stanford University showed that people who went through compassion training which was a specific meditation program, we’re better able to regulate their emotions afterward. And this is crucial for remaining disciplined and being able to make rational decisions.”  

Thomas recommends Zazen Meditation which he himself is practicing.  Proper sitting in a correct posture with your eyes closed to concentrate on your breathing is what this kind of meditation is doing.  You discipline your mind not to fly with other thoughts while meditating, practicing to keep your mental state focused on what you are doing at present which is breathing.

Build Some Habits

Behavior is not automatic that’s why building new habits will help you establish discipline in the process.  Whatever good habits you choose to build, start small, track your progress by using available applications.

Examples of habit building apps are Habitica, Strides or HabitBul, celebrate small wins and remember not to focus on perfect streaks.  If you forgot or the situation won’t allow you to do that habit, assess and bounce back. Gauging yourself that you are moving forward towards your goal is what all that matters. Your habits become your behavior and your behavior results in self-discipline.  

In a nutshell

Being in the freelancing industry is a tough career to live with.  Motivation is not enough to survive this industry, we need self-discipline to flow in our blood so whether we are not feeling okay. The weather is gloomy, the problem arises, distraction comes along, you will still stand to take action against whatever you feel and whatever hinders you. So, say hello to a new you!

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