Work-life balance is a goal that can feel more and more unrealistic in the era of push notifications and economic crises. Ironically, it might be that same digitally-enhanced, post-crisis world we find ourselves living in that ends up bringing all of us closer to the kind of balance we’ve until now only dreamed of.
This month, the Freelancers Union and Upwork published their annual Freelancing in America report, reaffirming what most of us already see in our professional lives: All around us, our friends and colleagues are swapping contracts and salaries for gigs and flexibility.
About a third of the American workforce is already doing some kind of freelance work, and it’s estimated to reach 40% by 2020. The big question in these times of economic uncertainty is why?
One common answer is the never-ending quest for balance in our lives. Our society and our employers are becoming more affirming of our need to spend more time nurturing our partners, passion projects, and ourselves.
Whether you quit your job or make a new arrangement with your current employer, you’ll find making the transition to freelancing brings a refreshing dose of balance to your life in more ways than one.
Being a professional certainly entails a busy schedule, but that doesn’t mean you have to sign away the rest of your life in your employment contract. When there’s no time clock inflexibly demanding your attention at 9:00 sharp, you’re free to balance work, family, and everything else important in your life as you see fit and as each day’s unique challenges demand.
Work-life balance isn’t just a touchy-feely buzzword: It’s key to health and happiness. The independence of freelancing allows you to dictate not only your own working hours, but also where you work and how. Some of us are bursting with motivation before the sun ever comes up; and for others, the sweet spot is 2 a.m. in sweatpants on the kitchen floor—as a freelancer, that’s for you to decide.
Gone are the days of committing your entire adult life to one employer and one professional field; and here to replace them is the era of the multi-passionate careerist.
As a freelancer, you’re free to become a professional Photographer-Fashionista-B2B Sales Guru who moonlights as an Android developer and teaches biweekly yoga classes at the local community center. In the new global economy, having multiple jobs is a good thing, and going freelance is the perfect way to reap the benefits and blossom into the modern-day renaissance woman you always knew you could be.
While you’re busy expanding your creative portfolio, go ahead and add badass nomad to your long list of titles: Going location-independent will blow the world wide open, and suddenly the globe is your playground.
Few things are as personally enriching or practically valuable as learning about the world and the people you share it with. Incredible job opportunities all around the world are waiting for you to mix and match them like the resumé accessories they are. Even when your assignment calendar is bursting and you can’t make it to the nearest island paradise, you’ll still have time to take a rejuvenating half-day to play tourist in your own city.
In addition to being a professional, you’re also a body, a mind, a soul, and a human being. Escaping the rigid bounds of the traditional nine-to-five will finally give you a chance to holistically nurture your being and strive for balance between the many facets of your being that make you you.
Your current colleagues might find it more than quirky if you were to plop down on the floor for a meditation break in the middle of the work day, but in your home or coworking space you can recenter yourself whenever you need. The time you save on the daily commute can go towards a morning run, learning a new language, preparing wholesome food, or just sitting by the fireplace with a good book. However you spend the time, the you’s that you’ve been neglecting at the office will thank you for it.