Posted by: faultlessfinish | October 24, 2011

My Way or the Highway

I’m not a control freak. Ok. Actually I am. But I don’t think many people know it. I’m a closet control freak, and this is my official “coming out.” And letting go of this control has been one of the toughest lessons I’ve had to learn as a freelancer.

I’m sure you’ve all heard the old saying “You can’t control others but you can control how you choose to let them make you feel” (or some similar version of this quotation). As a freelancer, you generally deal with clients on a one-on-one basis. At the outset of a project, you generally discuss project deadlines and how and when payment will be issued. But despite contracts and multiple conversations about expectations, sometimes, things will just fall through.

The project that was supposed to be sent at the beginning of the week won’t reach your inbox until two weeks later, pushing all your other projects back. The payment that was supposed to come in at the end of the month and help pay your rent won’t arrive until two weeks too late. This can be frustrating beyond belief, and contracts can help protect against this, but in relatively minor situations such as these, it’s often better to just keep your cool and cut your losses, rather than make a huge deal about it. This isn’t to say you should let people walk all over you. Rather, take the necessary steps to help prevent this in the future and to deal with the situation at hand, but don’t spend hours obsessing about it.

I’ve learned that it’s better to plan for the unexpected. Give yourself buffers. More often than not, the people you are doing business with are not purposely trying to make your life more difficult and are instead facing unexpected difficulties themselves. So take a deep breath, send a polite email regarding the issue, and go on with the day. Obviously if there has been a serious breach of contract, legal action will need to be taken, but in most cases, for your own peace of mind, it’s best to just let it go (in your mind). Don’t let it consume how you live out the rest of your day.

This philosophy also applies to all the relationships in your life. When I really stop to think about it, I’m amazed at how much I truly wish to control how other people act and speak around me. We have certain expectations for our lives and often unknowingly place them on our friends, family, and significant others.

My goal this month? Learn to accept what you cannot control. But take a stand when necessary – being a pushover doesn’t do you any good either.

Namaste 🙂


  1. I agree with you, but definitely know my toolbox is limited in terms of dealing with curbing my wish to control those around me. Thankfully, I’ve been better at this in work, where emotions are a little less prominent. Something tells me that would change in a freelance sort of world. Best of luck!

  2. Thanks, Rose! Even just being aware of when we’re doing it is a step!

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