The High Value of Lowering Your Freelance Bar

Make yourself right, right now, and build from there

“You may not be perfect, but that doesn’t make you flawed.” Nicole Kylie

Let’s start there. You’re not perfect, you’re not flawed.

Also, your freelance or solo business isn’t perfect, but it’s not necessarily flawed either. It’s a snapshot of where you are right now. And it’s the only place you can work from right now (or ever).

It’s very hard to work effectively from a mindset of wrong, failing, struggling, not measuring up, falling behind, should be doing better. One counterintuitive, high-value trick when you’re not feeling right is to simply lower the bar. Adjust the lever of your expectations downwards to a point where you’ve cleared that bar. From that perspective — of being right, right now — you can proceed from a place of…

  • success — this is what I’ve accomplished and done well;

  • confidence — this is what I’m capable of and more;

  • empowerment — this motivates me to take the next steps forward;

  • reality — this is what’s next and I’m ready for it.

It’s not magic. It’s just a shift in perspective that supports action over rumination. Feeling competent and worthy rather than bumbling and fearful. But those are no small thing. Business savvy is a mix of hard truths, soft skills, and inner games. Here are some ways to think about the high value that comes with lowering the bar until you’ve cleared it.

Recognition that you’re in the middle of it As a coach for freelancers, solopreneurs, authors, and small business owners, I encounter the expected smattering of popular issues in my clients: income generation, accountability, juggling multiple priorities and projects, imposter syndrome, work-life balance. But the number one surprise that many people encounter is that a “problem” they’re having is not that they’re stuck, but that they’re simply in the middle of it. They’re on a journey they chose to be on and this is what it looks and feels like.

As James Clear reminds us:

“The most important battles must be fought anew each day. Exercising today does not render tomorrow’s workout unnecessary. Supporting your spouse today does not mean you can mail it in tomorrow. Learn to love the endless nature of things and life gets easier.”

Instead of never arriving at elusive destinations and goals that get pushed further out, adjust your vision so that this situation you find yourself in is the destination of the moment. It’s today’s scenic overlook, mile marker, highway pub, or international hostel of the exciting adventure that is your business.

Learning to run your business by running your business

“We can only learn to love by loving.”— Iris Murdoch

Making yourself right, right now, plants you firmly in the sentiment of Murdoch’s quote. It’s the transformative power of taking action, of learning and gaining deeper access to something by practicing it. We learn to write by writing. We learn to market by marketing. We learn to sell by selling. We learn to be right and okay and perfectly not perfect in our business by catching ourselves being right and okay and perfectly not perfect in our business.

Priming the container Lowering the bar has the high value of slowing you down enough to put the pieces of a sustainable business into place. Instead of the breakneck speed of rags-to-riches, mega-stardom, instant six-figure fantasies, this concept allows you to be amazing while intentionally crafting your business container. That is, taking care to prepare your ideal business on your terms with the right boundaries, bells, and whistles so that work easily and continuously flows into it.

The basics Keeping yourself right, right now, can also ground you in the basics of creating the solo business of your dreams. There are a lot of moving parts to doing it right and it’s not all going to happen overnight. You might even be swimming along quite well without knowing other business basics that you can put into place to support your efforts even further for the long run. When you operate from right, right now, any time’s a good time to say, so far, so good, now what’s next? Do any of these areas of your enterprise need an influx of attention: Business development, client retention, income generation, marketing, sales, quality control, accounting, legal, human resources, strategy, values alignment, self-care?

Anchoring your finances in reality Perhaps no area of business demands the hard truths and the top inner game like money does. It tells us where one critical bar is and it’s too often already been lowered for us. Sigh. You can still make that lowered money bar right, right now, by honing in on:

  • success — these are the number milestones I’ve reached and this is what I did well to get there;

  • confidence — this is what I have been capable of so far and here’s how else I can be capable going forward;

  • empowerment — this motivates me to reach my next financial goal by doing x, y, and z;

  • reality — this is where I’m at right now, but tomorrow I will do x, y, and z as I work on my next win.

Tending to business relationships One thing most of us have in common is that we don’t reach out enough to others — to connect, to offer help, and, least of all, to ask for the support we need. When we’re on the brink of right, right now, wondering what is next from our awesome little roost, let this idea be one of the regulars to flit through your mind.

  • Who haven’t I talked to in awhile? Get in touch and let open curiosity drive the conversation.

  • Is there someone in my awareness that needs help I can easily offer? Join the favors economy and make it a habit of paying it forward.

  • What kind of support do I need right now and who can provide it?

  • Tending to your business contacts and cultivating those relationships slowly over time is a cornerstone of sustainable business.

Just doing it As business owners, we should know by now that we have to work on the business as well as in the business. But doing the work, working in the business, is often the best way we make ourselves right, right now. Being right by meeting our deadlines and commitments to clients. Serving them so we can get paid sooner than later for our value. Doing what is right in front of us rather than procrastinating or worrying.

Staying right, right now Finally, we can keep our emotional cool and businesses fit by evaluating where we’re at with the realistic ratio of 3-to-1. That’s identifying three positives and one area for improvement when assessing any business behavior, performance, or decision. This scraps the overwhelm and analysis paralysis and disarms our inner faultfinder at the same time.

The triple emphasis on the positives helps you:

  • cultivate awareness and boost your mood;

  • understand the value you offer, your competitive advantages, your market differentiation, and how that supports business development; and

  • solidify learning by recognizing it and maintaining a growth mindset.

By naming only one thing in each review that needs improvement, you can better:

  • home in on what most needs improvement;

  • keep your weaknesses in perspective relative to your strengths;

  • build and focus on your strengths, which are more energizing and more conducive to business development; and

  • sustain learning, growth, and results in a way needed for long-term business stability and success.

This simple practice keeps you right, right now, right where you’re at and systematically inches the bar up at the same time. It’s easy continuous improvement and performance gains with fewer struggles and anxieties, and less self-criticism and self-sabotage.

What are you waiting for? Where and how will you lower the bar for your freelance or solo business today and appreciate the perch of right, right now?