#58: How to Reimagine Your Goals during a Crisis

First, Black Lives Matter. Let’s talk …

On today’s show I am going to go over how you can relook, reimagine and reexamine your goals in the midst of a crisis, like this global pandemic. But first, I want to talk about the protests happening this week in our country after the murder of George Floyd by police and the “weaponization” of race by a white woman, Amy Cooper, in Central Park.

As if the pandemic wasn’t stressful and heartbreaking enough, racism—which has long been a cancer in our society—has really come to a head in recent weeks. I am a privileged white woman, but I try to be an ally and to listen and learn. I believe that Black Lives Matter. And if we are upset and angry about buildings on fire and broken glass, then we should be 1000% angrier about black men and women and boys and girls being abused, beaten and even murdered by police and other people in our society.

You may not have tuned into this podcast for politics, but we cannot simply talk about our freelance businesses without recognizing what is happening around us and how the anguish and racism affects all of us. We who are white need to listen and learn from others, we need to speak out, we need to try to understand. And to those who are black, to those communities who have been harmed and abused and forgotten, to my fellow freelancers, to colleagues, strangers and friends, I am so, so sorry.

One way we can help as freelance business owners is to be an ally to people who are not white, not heterosexual, who don’t have the privilege some of us were born into. For example, if you hire subcontractors, you can do a little extra work to go outside your regular circle and try to hire people from marginalized groups. You can buy products from minority-owned businesses. You can reach out to other freelancers when you hear of gigs that aren’t the right fit for you.

In this podcast I made a conscious decision from the beginning to try to have a diverse array of voices when I have guests on. And I haven’t done a great job at this—mostly because I have often brought on guests I knew in real life and that tends to be other white women. This is a common problem in our society—we stay in our bubbles when hiring, reaching out, mentoring. And our bubbles often look like us.

I just did an audit of my podcast guest list, and out of 20 guests since I launched last year, I’ve had five people of color on my podcast. So, 20%. The rest were 12 white women and 3 white men. That’s not good enough. I need to do much better. I need to search out more diverse voices, even if that is more work.

So, that’s what I plan to do. And when I say diversity, I mean racial and ethnic, but also LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, regional diversity and more.

I commit to doing this work, but if you know of freelancers—or people who are experts in a certain area who could help freelancers—and you want to suggest names to me, feel free to DM or tag me on Twitter @MelEdits or email me at melanie@meledits.com.

Now, reimagining your goals.

Time to pivot … Let’s talk about how to reimagine your goals during a time of crisis. This could be any crisis in your life, whether global or very personal. Right now, of course we’re dealing with a health pandemic and a global economic crisis that affects all of us in varying degrees.

In episode 53, I talked about how to find your resilience and pivot right now and the fact that you are being forced to pivot because of the pandemic. But I want to think of this a little differently this week. How can you shift your mindset and see this as an opportunity to reexamine and change up your goals?

First, what were your goals this year? Did you set some? If you didn’t have them written down or they were kind of vague, take some time now to think back to December and January. What did you imagine yourself doing this year in your personal life and in your business?

I had some big goals this year, including a huge income goal that I was really excited about. More money would mean more travel with my husband and fixing a few things around the house. Now, of course I’m doing my best just to cover the bills. And this could be my worst financial year in my 7 years as a freelancer.

Let’s first talk about our income goals. There are two main areas I see that could affect your income goal right now—that you are losing clients but also that you might have less time, particularly if you have children now at home.

If you are taking care of children, can you realistically continue to work the same amount of hours you were working pre-pandemic? And if you have lost work, how much money can you realistically earn right now? For the past few months you may have been marketing and networking and reaching out and taking whatever work comes your way. In other words, you have been constantly hustling to get more work. And I understand the need for that.

But, you need to take the time to take a breath and figure out a long-term strategy. What areas of your business are doing the best right now? What services can you offer that people want? What industries and companies can you go after that are doing OK in the pandemic, maybe even doing well and are hiring? Start adjusting your goals or creating new ones based on your answers.

Here’s what I’ve done: I’m a writer and an editor. I offer a variety of services, but what I really love to do is put together publications as a managing editor of magazines and newsletters. But that takes a lot of time and I can only commit to a few of those clients at a time. Pre-pandemic, I had two clients where I was managing editor. Now, I have one.

As a managing editor, I didn’t have a lot of time to write articles. I usually only wrote a couple of big articles every month or two, with four-week deadlines, plus maybe a few smaller articles.

And I didn’t actually want to be only a freelance writer. I liked editing and having a variety of services. But, writing in my industry pays well and by the project, so during this current crisis I switched up my goals and decided to double-down on writing. I’m a health care writer so I was able to stress that I could write about the coronavirus, science and public health, as I reached out to previous and potential new clients.

I quickly received two big assignments related to coronavirus, as well as a few more smaller articles on other topics. My new goal was suddenly to be a full-time freelance writer, with editing—except for my one remaining managing editing gig—taking a backseat.

And I surprised myself by liking this focus on writing. I started to contemplate what would happen if I got my anchor client back. Would I want to go back or would I want to stick with writing more?

It took a global pandemic for me to reimagine my goals and embrace this new mindset of writing more. Ask yourself: Has there been any little thing that has come out of this pandemic that you might have been forced to do in your business that you enjoyed just a bit? Or have you lost a specific client or type of work and realized you don’t miss it at all?

The pandemic has also forced me to slow down, which opened up my day to try new marketing tactics, to network more, to take courses. Now is the time to take advantage of all these free courses.

Another goal I’ve switched up is to go back to former work. Several years ago I cut back on some copy editing projects to make room for other more enjoyable, more lucrative work. But I stayed in touch with those previous clients and recently contacted them. One of them hired me again for copy editing, and I was able to pick up right where I left off.

Being able to be at home every day also allowed me to take on a new editing project as well, where I’m kind of “on call.” It could have been a mental adjustment to be on call every day. I’m a planner and like my calendar mapped out for the week. But for some reason it wasn’t stressful. I think part of that is the anxiety I’ve felt during the pandemic; if I can deal with the anxiety of this health and economic crisis, I can certainly change my mindset to accept a more flexible daily schedule.

You may not have even realized it yet, but you also may have become more accepting and resilient of things that you said you’d never do. You may be more open to new types of work or certain work parameters. So question those hard-and-fast rules you’ve been holding onto in your business. Are they reasonable? Can they be adjusted? Can you be more flexible?

In episode 53 about pivoting, I talked about how I told myself to think way, way, way outside the box. And even though I was doing that several weeks ago, it took a few more weeks for me to realize I could adjust my mindset even further.

As you’re thinking about all this, continue to ask yourself some big questions, like: What have I always dreamed of doing? What have I put off trying because I didn’t have the time? What areas of my business make the most money and how can I double-down on those? How could I create packages of services to offer right now? What do my clients need and want RIGHT NOW?

Biz Bite: Set a daily timer for dinner prep.

The Bookshelf: An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones

Resources:

Episode #53 of Deliberate Freelancer: Pivoting and Finding Resilience

Episode #2 of Deliberate Freelancer: Discover Your Unique Brilliance

Book list: “An Essential Reading Guide for Fighting Racism

For Our White Friends Desiring to Be Allies

Black Lives Matter website—What We Believe (and how you can help)

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