My work ethic has always been a huge part of my success as a freelancer, but sometimes our best qualities have their own faults, too. This post is hard for me to write, simply because it’s a mistake I wish I wouldn’t have had to deal with. But that’s how lessons are learned, right?? And perhaps it will be of help or insight to others. This lesson is about expectations, being walked over, and maintaining your work ethic.
I’ve always prided myself in being an efficient and focused worker throughout my life, as it’s gotten me swiftly + safely through many things. However, somewhere between starting my own business and this past summer, that very same drive crossed a line. I knew, at the young age of 24, that there was no way I could maintain my work ethic for the next 20 some years.
The base of my mistake was always about how readily available I made myself to, well, everyone. A people pleaser at heart – I would respond to emails within the hour ( mostly within minutes ), complete same day revisions for easy tasks, and sometimes agree to unfair timelines. As a result, I literally and unknowingly raised the bar too high for myself. People grew to expect instant emails and fast turn arounds from me, simply because it’s what I had been doing all along. Expectations were set with nobody to blame but myself.
With that said, I quickly realized I had to dig myself out of my own hole. Although I was fine with my process & working pace, I knew I needed to intentionally slow things down a bit for growth & longevity. And finally, set a new standard for myself … one that I could achieve and be proud of not only longterm, but on a daily basis.
I no longer respond to emails RIGHT away, complete instantaneous revisions, or agree to unfair timelines. Although it possibly sounds like I’m this gigantic slacker now, that’s absolutely not the case. I made all of this happen without sacrificing my closeness to clients + projects. I still make myself available and will probably always be a quick worker, because that’s just me. By implementing subtle changes, I’ve created a business lifestyle that I can maintain.
My best advice for you would be to always set boundaries. Do what you need to do to get things done, of course, but never sacrifice your own well being. You know … bend over backwards within reason. Always be happy with what you’re doing.