#029: The In Between – Embracing the Journey to Freelance Success

Impatience has been a recurring theme in my life. Once I decide to pursue a big goal, I can’t WAIT to make it a reality.

This goal-centered mindset has served me well. But it has also caused me to miss many of the little moments that make up that exciting journey.

Moments I can’t ever get back. They’re gone forever.

In this episode, Jeff Goins, author of The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing explains why moments of breakthrough are NOT where life’s greatest transformations happen. Instead, they happen in the

“in-between” moments for freelance success.

Waiting in the checkout line, waiting for our first big client, waiting for that big trip to Europe…

This is an important discussion for all those who freelance, regardless of where you are in your journey. I hope it’s as helpful to you as it was for me.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes or on Stitcher to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

Why do we tend to focus on the next big thing at the expense of the journey?

It’s very common in our culture. We live in an affluent age with amazing technology, and life has become, in many respects, pretty easy. Survival is no longer a question—it’s a given. We’ve come to expect that everything should come easily. But life doesn’t always match our expectations.

Today, we have a sense of entitlement. Some argue that we’re the most entitled and ungrateful generation ever. Over just a few generations, we’ve shifted from, “Life is hard, so I’m grateful for what I have,” to “Life is easy, so I’m going to fixate on what I don’t have.”

When you focus on what you don’t have, you’re less motivated and less happy. When you’re grateful, something magical happens. You tend to get the things you don’t have more easily because you have an abundance mindset instead of a scarcity mindset.

Malcolm Gladwell refers to this concept in his book Outliers. Those who know how to use resources well, turn them into more resources. Those who don’t, lose them. Your reality conforms to your expectations. It’s malleable.

How is this sense of entitlement and impatience affecting us?

Thanks to the Internet, we have almost everything at our fingertips. So we’re more prone to distraction than even just a few years ago. We’re constantly tempted to engage with people on the other side of the world, at the expense of our loved ones right in front of us. It’s very habit forming. We’re practicing the habits of distraction and impatience, and we struggle to be present in the moment.

You talk about the “growth” that can happen in moments of waiting instead of attaining. Can you talk more about that?

Life is mostly made up of the time between the big moments. In-between time is very important time. It’s how we live our lives, how we spend our days. Look at what you’re doing today. How you spend today is a microcosm of how you spend your life. Are you practicing being the person you want to become?

Come to grips with the fact that we’re never done. There’s always another goal. You will never feel totally complete or satisfied. So maybe the goal isn’t to get everything you want, but to have a great story. Maybe the goal is to live the life you’ve been given as best as you can.

The curse of the entrepreneur and/or creative person is to have one big hope or an amazing dream. You think everything will be great once you do this one “big thing.” But if you wait for that one big thing, and not enjoy the now, won’t be very proud of your life. There’s always another “then” to get to.

But if you’re doing work you love, then you enjoy every step of the process.

What about listeners who’re stuck? Those who want to make a living from writing and say this is the only hope they have.

Be careful where you place your hope. But at the same time, if you have a passion, go for it. It’s okay to want things. We live in a free market society, which is a gift. But don’t put too much stock in one change, thinking that it will do everything for you.

You’re the only person who has control over who you are and who you want to be. Most of our obstacles are internal, not external. And you need to address the internal obstacles before you can address the external ones.

People struggle with pain, tragedy and disappointment. These aren’t good feelings or fun places to be. But they’re inevitable. When they happen, the question is not, “What are you going to do?” but “Who are you going to be?”

We all have to go through the in between. So appreciate it and learn from it.

I know what’s going to happen after this interview. My habits will take over, and I’ll revert to my old ways. How can we make these ideas practical?

Start by building some good habits. Develop habits that help you to slow down, let go of control and learn to be more grateful. Create little benchmarks in your day that remind you that this is life.

These habits will be different for everyone, but here are three that Jeff uses daily:

1. Go for a walk. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes. Take a break, re-energize and re-focus. Enjoy nature without multitasking. This is especially important for creative professionals.

2. Make a meal with your own hands. It doesn’t have to be the best meal in the world. Spend an hour or more preparing. This reminds you that some things are worth waiting for.

3. Spend time with family while being fully present. Put away your phone. Hide your laptop. When you go back and forth between work and family, they both suffer. It’s okay to put things on hold to enjoy the people most precious to you.

Do something creative or playful that feels like a waste of time; something unproductive. It’s essential to mental health and contributes to a healthy lifestyle.

Where can listeners learn more about you and your book?

Jeff’s website is Goinswriter.com. There you’ll find links to Twitter and Facebook, and you can sign up for his free newsletter.

 


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Till next time,

-Ed

  • Kathy Mercure

    Fabulous advice here Ed and Jeff! It so fits where I am in my freelance life, and the way the clients I want to attract would want to be too.

    • edgandia

      Super! Thanks for checking it out, Kathy. Good to know this struck a chord. 😉

  • Angie Mangino

    You couldn’t have introduced Jeff to me at a better time than now. His advice hits home directly with me in my personal life right now, and is much appreciated.