A Stoic Secret For Freelance Stress

Brad Bartlett
3 min readJan 16, 2024

Don’t let your obsession with the next gig keep you from enjoying your career.

The variability of freelance work can feel like an emotional rollercoaster. I regularly swing between the feast times with plentiful gigs and the famine times scrambling to land the next client.

Sometimes, it even wakes me up anxious in the middle of the night, wondering, “Wait, what if this is all there is? What if the well runs dry?

Thankfully, I’ve had the years under my belt to give me the perspective I need to calm my fears.

But for those just starting out, it can be a daunting and overwhelming journey.

Navigating the Unpredictability

Trying to operate a freelance business often feels like driving in a thick fog — knowing where I want to go, confident in my abilities, but unable to see more than 4 feet down the road ahead.

I never know when a longtime client might suddenly drop off or when a new high-paying project could unexpectedly land in my lap.

This lack of visibility and dependence on external factors for steady work can feel precarious.

But like any other business, there are ways to navigate the unpredictability and build a successful freelance career — and one key area is building entrepreneurial emotional resilience.

Stoic Principles for Emotional Resilience

Stoic philosophers advise us to “welcome all that happens as necessary and familiar, flowing like water from that same source and fountain,” as Marcus Aurelius wrote.

This stoic attitude recognizes what we can and cannot control as freelancers.

I have agency over honing my skills, networking professionally, pitching clients, and delivering excellent work.

But I can’t control whether a client says yes to a proposal or the broader economic conditions driving hiring.

But here’s the reality — fretting over these external outcomes only distracts me from focusing on my own reasonable preparations and spheres of influence.

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Brad Bartlett

Professional Freelance Copywriter. (www.bradleebartlett.co) Musings on #freelancing, #productivity, #self-development, and more!