ICBA Blog

Finding Balance As We Enter the New Year

If the slow week between the holidays and the new year makes you feel uneasy, here’s how to reclaim a state of calm

The tail end of December and the start of January can be a bit anxiety-inducing for some independent contractors. The holiday season means a slam of projects for some, while for others it means the work runs dry—especially leading into the new year. On the one hand, you might relish the free time to celebrate the season with family and friends. On the other hand, taking a break from work might make you uneasy, especially if the time of year piles on extra expenses. Here’s how to find balance and peace as you enter 2020.

Recognize the freelancer fear of not doing enough

As an independent contractor, time off can be both a blessing and a curse. As freelancers, we often have a voice in the back of our minds saying, If I’m not working, I’m not getting paid. Even during typical holidays, when many people get a break from salaried jobs, independent contractors can still have feelings of fear about a break—or a sense that we’re not doing enough to stay ahead of the game. If the feeling is just a nagging sense of guilt or anxiety, acknowledge it. Just recognizing what your sense of unease is about is the first step to helping you let it go.

Look back (and ahead) to banish guilt

Taking stock of your past year can help you put things into perspective. Did you meet, exceed, or at least come close to your income goals? If so, there’s no reason not to stop and enjoy some downtime and to celebrate. Even if you didn’t quite get to where you wanted to be, likely you have projects on the horizon for the new year. Getting a good picture of your projected income for the weeks ahead can also help ease anxiety about a work break.

Make a plan for the new year

If you still feel unsettled about the time off, about cash flow, or about the first month of the new year, take control of the situation by forging a plan. What can you do after your holiday vacation to find new clients, generate more income, or work a few extra hours here and there? Sometimes setting goals, refreshing your branding or marketing, or developing your schedule are all tasks you can do to refocus your nervous energy.

Take immediate action if necessary

If the only way to lessen your worry is to find work as soon as possible, take a few minutes to explore gig opportunities you might not have considered. But keep in mind that a little downtime is important for every independent contractor to find work-life balance. So carve out time to relax too.