Helping Your Family and Friends Make the Adjustment
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As you move away from the “inner circle” of your family, the impact of your career will naturally lessen. Most extended family members won’t have their lives change much as a result of you deciding to freelance. This depends on how close you are, though: some adults see their siblings and parents and others every week, while others barely speak to them at all and meet up in person at most once a year. Like with your spouse or significant other, the closer you are to your family, the greater the effect, but also the potential for mutual support and assistance.
There’s one way that interactions with extended family might change that freelancers don’t anticipate: family members may start to take your flexibility for granted. Suppose you have a family and so does your brother, and you live several hours from each other. You get along well and you like to get together so the cousins can spend time. If you freelance but your brother works a full-time job, he may come to expect that you visit him more than the other way around, since you have more flexibility to take time off than he does.
There’s nothing wrong with this as long as it is kept within reasonable limits, and you don’t feel like you are being taken advantage of. It’s important that you help extended family members understand that flexibility still has its costs: you can take time off, but you’re foregoing work and earnings. They need to also recognize that there are drawbacks as well as benefits to freelancing. For example, if you agree to visit more often, you may need to spend some time each day working away from home, or at least checking project listings and communicating with clients. They should respect that this comes with the territory.
Like extended family, most friends won’t be impacted too much by you becoming a freelancer. In fact, I’ve found that most are quite supportive of the idea. However, there may be certain cases where you need to do some “educating”, and especially to set boundaries. If your friends work full-time jobs, they may not realize that your work day often doesn’t end at 5 pm. Again here, this is all the harder if you’re juggling a regular job and freelancing part-time. Help friends to understand the demands on your time, and make some space for them in your life—that’s not only good for your relationships, but it helps keep you balanced.
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