Dump the self-employment guilt

Like this post? Please share it!

self-employment guiltAmong the many important themes that run through Laura Poole’s new Dr. Freelance Advisor Guide, Juggling on a High Wire: The Art of Work-Life Balance When You’re Self-Employed, self-employment guilt is the one I want to discuss today. While January is a time of shiny-fresh slates, December can be particularly tough for freelancers and those who are self-employed. Here’s why:

  • End-of-year client jobs crash headlong into the desire to spend time with friends and family, and the much-needed recharging of your creative batteries.
  • Your remaining to-do list may be longer than you’d like—books unwritten, unedited, or unpublished…websites unrevamped…queries or letters of intent unsent.
  • Your year’s financial goals aren’t yet met, and the clock is a-tickin’. (With the added kick in the cojones that revenues realized this month will result in a higher tax bill.)

Well, I’m here to tell you: You might not get it all done. And that’s OK. I’m not, however, suggesting that you should just tell the bartender to add everything to your New Year’s resolution tab.

So, what should you do instead?

Turn Self-employment Guilt into a Motivator

The holiday season results in having to make tough choices, and I’m not just talking about what you want from Santa. Ultimately, it means understanding and adhering to the values of your business as well as those in your personal life.

As Laura notes:

A lot of people who work from home fall into the emotional trap of feeling guilty about not working while spending time with family, but then feeling guilty about not being with family when working! Feeling guilty will derail your life balance because you will probably end up frantically spending more time on both pursuits, which is exhausting and ultimately not sustainable.

More often than not, this happens because you haven’t said “no” often enough. If you don’t have a good, solid concept of what it is that you want to do—and when, and for how much—it’s easy to say “yes” to just about anything. I’ve even heard freelancers say they feel guilty about not being able, for example, to help a client who can’t afford them. That’s unproductive guilt at its worst!

Rather than wasting your time on feeling guilty, take an an objective assessment of where you’ve fallen short of the goals you set out at the beginning of the year—or any revisions to them in subsequent months. Some of those goals may no longer be valid. Delete them, and move on. For those that still apply, don’t focus on feeling guilty that they’re still looming. Write down the specific action steps they’ll require, and get to work.

Free Self-Employed Work-Life Balance Q&A Webinar

While we’re on the topic of work-life balance, I’m excited to announce that Laura will be co-hosting a FREE work-life balance Q&A webinar with me on December 17, at 1 p.m. Eastern time. Details and the sign-up form will be posted soon!

In the comments: What do you do to manage self-employment guilt, particularly at this time of year?

Like this post? Please share it!

Like What You've Read? Subscribe to Dr. Freelance

* indicates required


  1. Sam Severn says

    Everything I read on this site absolutely ROCKS my world. This article was no exception. Freakin’ STERLING advice to find BALANCE in my freelancing life. Thanks for the awesome words of flaming inspiration, n’ keep on rockin’ it!!