Freelancers (myself definitely included) often feel a strong emotional attachment to their work. This attachment has some notable benefits:
- An intrinsic desire to produce the best work possible
- A sense of purpose when you’re working through a project, especially when you’re working alone
- Pride in the end result of all your work
The danger comes when you take that emotional attachment too far and start conflating your sense of self with the success of your projects. This might be fine if every single thing you work on is successful and proceeds smoothly.
Realistically, that just isn’t an appropriate expectation. You are going to have at least a few bad projects, even if it is because of things that are outside of your control.
This is something I’ve been dealing with for the last month or so. A project went off the rails and, while I’ve been working as hard as possible to finish it in a satisfactory way, it just hasn’t gotten any better. Because of this project, I’ve been depressed, angry, and not a ton of fun to be around.
I’m trying to take a step back, now, and see my work as separate from myself. Things are slowly getting better, but it is still a struggle for me to not conflate my sense of self worth with my work success.
If you are experiencing the same or similar feelings, take this opportunity to realize you are not your work. Remind yourself every day – that’s what I’ve done and it is helping.
If you’ve got other ways to deal with this, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.