I recently took my car to a body shop, after losing the car versus snowbank battle that tends to play out in the streets of my city this time of year. While anxiously waiting to find out the fate of my vehicle, and bank account, I spent some time chatting with the people there.
During the course of conversation, it came up that a new tenant had leased some space in the building next to theirs. They were in the process of installing 550 cubicles.
550 neat and tidy boxes where 550 people would sit for 1800 hours a year.
Until they retire.
Or leave for another cubicle farm.
Or die from lack of individuality.
When I first started working for myself, I was always afraid. Afraid that I’d run out of money, afraid that the clients who were paying me would suddenly stop paying me, afraid that I’d never get another client. Afraid that my dream could turn into a nightmare at any moment.
Those same insecurities waft across my brain every now and then, but after these many years of thriving on my own, I’ve learned to acknowledge them for what they are – motivational reminders! So stop dwelling on the fear itself, and instead consider, really consider, how fear can motivate you.
Know Your Numbers
Instead of staying awake at night trying to mentally calculate how much money is left to pay the bills next month and the month after that, turn this fear into positive action. Schedule time once a month to review your budget (not just professionally, but personally!). Make sure you really need all of those things that are costing you money. Don’t just think about your expenses, actually sit down and make a list of them in Excel, or Google Sheets, or Numbers, or another number crunching tool of choice. List everything you can think of, and then take a hard look at whether you’re spending your money wisely. One of the side effects of not having an employer is that you quickly become acquainted with the real value of money. There’s a passive reliance that comes into play when you’re receiving a paycheck every two weeks. It gives a false impression of security. That’s why it’s such a jolt to suddenly lose it, whether by choice or not.
When you’re working for yourself, and your actions are so tangibly linked to earning every dollar, you take a good hard look at how each of those dollars is spent. Not only that, knowing and managing exactly how much your household and business spend every month is one of the best inputs you’ll have toward peace of mind.
Make More Money
Aside from taking stock of how you spend your money, the absolute best way to guard against running out of money is to make MORE money! No, I’m not suggesting you start an exciting new counterfeiting business. I’m also not suggesting that making money is as easy as wishing to do so. But if you work on it, continually and consistently, you begin to realize that generating revenue is always achievable. It’s demanding, and a lot of work, and requires a lot of attention; but once you have a solid understanding of what you have to offer, what value you can provide, you’ll find that you can truly discover and connect with people willing to buy what you’re selling. Connecting with your clients and customers is the first step to making sure you always have an active revenue stream.
People get too hung up on immediacy. Success doesn’t happen overnight. As long as you focus on the long-term, and deliver in the short-term, you can gradually climb the path you need to realize your goals. Give it time, keep at it, don’t give up. These are all well-worn tropes. But maybe there’s a reason for that; maybe they’re so well-known and so often repeated because they represent truths that we’ve gained from experience.
Biggest Fear of All
Lastly, when things get challenging, it’s good to have a conversation like the one I had recently. Because at the end of the day, my biggest fear is that I’ll someday give up and go back to being a cubicle zombie. Who needs more motivation than that?!