I got fired by a client today. Before you feel too badly for me, let me explain.
This client is a longtime colleague and friend, and I was tasked a few months ago to help her with an ongoing mini-writing project. Today when we were chatting, catching up about our work lives, I mentioned my endless list of things I can’t seem to cross off the list and my desire to get back to more creative writing. Although it had nothing to do with the project I was doing for her, she was connecting some dots between the things I was saying… that’s when she fired me. She told me she enjoys working with me, but she’d rather that we continue collaborating on larger nonprofit projects… she’d rather I gain back some time and mental energy by declining smaller projects like hers. So she released me from the commitment. We joked that it was sort of like being fired.
But really? By releasing me from this smaller gig, my colleague affirmed my expertise in the nonprofit realm and affirmed my writing skills. She affirmed the nudging I’ve been feeling to focus on larger client projects—as well as my own creative writing.
Getting fired/freed today is reminds me of the podcast discussions we’re hosting on Persuasion in our series called The Creative Process. All those ideas are coming to bear here: I love my work as a freelance nonprofit communications consultant, and I love my creative writing/podcasting/idea shuffling work. But for those to work in tandem, I have to be very clear about my call and purpose, taking on the projects that lead me in the way I think I’m supposed to be heading. I need to fight for margin and space to create, even as I’m faithful to deliver quality for my clients.
The freelance life is a strange beast. Hustle is required to get enough work to make it financially viable. And more hustle is needed to juggle fluctuations in projects and pay. Often I’m taking on more work than I should so I can have work in the queue after another project wraps. But this constant hustle prompts me to take on any work that’s within my space—even smaller projects that I’m capable of but do not challenge me or use the best of my skills. That’s why we all need colleagues (friends!) who have our back—even as they fire you. Sometimes the hustle clouds our judgment, and we need people who believe in our skills to clear the air and help us make decisions that free us up to do our best work.
Now I just need to take advantage of that momentum.