Empowering the Freelance Economy

Why every freelancer must write their own obituary

Writing your own obituary is an unorthodox move but it is one of the most effective ways to reassess your career and life goals/Photo by Ketut Subiyanto via Pexels
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Writing your own obituary may seem weird at first. But it’s one of the most effective career-boosting exercises to reveal to yourself what you really want out of life and your freelance work

We delve into the art of writing one’s own obituary step-by-step, particularly from the perspective of those who have built their careers as freelancers. It’s an introspective topic that will likely force you to reflect on your life, career and the legacy you want to leave behind.

Freelancers, those independent souls who march to the beat of their own drum, can often be unsung heroes in the industries and companies they work for. Yet, freelancers touch countless lives, leaving a lasting impact on both their clients and the communities they serve.

For example, that artist that created a logo that’s now synonymous with a brand that generates millions of dollars or the engineer that came up and developed a life-saving app.

But to craft an “obituary” requires introspection, honesty, and optimism. It doesn’t have to be a one-off exercise either. You can practice it whenever you feel an internal struggle or are at a juncture in your career or a big life decision.

It is an unorthodox exercise to write your own obituary but it snaps you into focus with the reality of self-truth. It’s one of the quickest ways to answer the question:

Am I on track to achieving what I truly want to achieve in my life and freelance work?

It’s not all about the accolades

When you set out to write your own obituary, you may realise that it isn’t all about the accolades, awards or money, but rather the profound connections you have or want to have through freelancing. It’s about the people you’ve helped, the lives you’ve touched, and the stories you’ve shared.

Step 1: Reflect on your freelancing journey

Think about the projects you’ve worked on, the clients you’ve served, and the impact you’ve made. Which assignments or projects were career-changing? Which ones are you most proud of? Consider too the challenges you’ve faced, the lessons you’ve learned, and the growth you’ve experienced along the way.

Freelancers juggle multiple clients and projects and can easily forget the contributions they have made to others

Step two: Identify your unique contributions

What made your freelancing approach stand out? Were you a master wordsmith, able to bring stories to life? Did you possess an uncanny ability to understand client needs? Discover the essence of what made your work special.

Step three: Express your values and passions

Freelancers have more freedom to infuse their work with their personal beliefs and passions. Whether it’s a commitment to social justice, environmental sustainability, or simply spreading joy, express these values in your obituary writing exercise, as they will shape the legacy you want to leave.

Step four: Remember the lives you’ve touched

Freelancers have the privilege of collaborating with diverse individuals, industries and communities. Take a moment to recall the impact you’ve had on your clients, colleagues, and those who benefited from your work. Highlight their stories and the transformations you witnessed firsthand.

If you are struggling to come up with examples, this could be a sign that you need to reassess the type of work you are doing and if you are leaving a lasting impression that you are content with. If you are, great. If not, how could you change that through existing clients, projects or new ones you seek out?

Step five: Embrace your imperfections

Freelancers are not immune to setbacks and failures. In fact, it is often through these moments that you can find your greatest strength. Embrace the challenges you have faced and conquered, sharing the lessons you’ve learned along the way. This can be done in a mentoring capacity or through social media posts, a blog, or articles you can write for trade journals or submit as an author on LinkedIn.

Step six: Celebrate your successes

Don’t shy away from acknowledging your accomplishments even if it makes you cringe. Detail the projects that brought you pride and the milestones you reached. Allow yourself a moment to revel in the joy of what you achieved. This process is an excellent way for you to appreciate what you have accomplished and what you want to accomplish over the next 6 to 12 months.

Step seven: Craft a closing that encapsulates your “essence”

Write a final paragraph that captures the essence of who you were as a freelancer, encapsulating your spirit, values, and legacy. Leave behind a heartfelt message that will resonate with those who read it. This is where you have to have a positive mindset with no room for self-limiting chatter in your head.

Writing your own obituary may seem like a daunting and awkward task, but for freelancers and those even just starting out self-employed, it’s an opportunity to reflect on the remarkable career journey you have been on so far. It’s a chance to celebrate the impact you’ve made, the lessons you have learned, the lives you’ve touched, and the stories you shared.

It is also a great way to fill in the blanks of what you want to accomplish in life and your career. This is where you have to visualise it. This is an exercise in the legacy you want to leave and life that you want, so go for it! See it and write it down.

Whether you’re a freelancer or considering becoming one, take the time to sit down and reflect on the legacy you wish to leave behind.

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