Freelance After 50 Newsletter

F50 Issue #23: Building a Healthy Freelancer Mindset

Published 28 days ago • 5 min read

F50 Issue #23: May 28, 2024

Mindset Matters: How to Build Healthy Habits After 50

In the 2002 movie About a Boy, Hugh Grant plays a character named Will Freeman. If you’ve seen the movie, you may remember that Will saw himself as an “island” — a free man with no responsibilities and obligations to other people.

Because he inherited royalties from his father’s hit Christmas song, he didn’t have to work. Instead, he carefully carved out a lifestyle with daily habits that enabled his brand of “island living”:

“The important thing in island living is to be your own activities director, and I find the key is to think of a day as units of time, each unit consisting of no more than thirty minutes. Full hours can be a little bit intimidating, and most activities take about half an hour.
“Taking a bath: one unit. Watching Countdown: one unit. Web-based research: two units. Exercising: three units. Having my hair carefully disheveled: four units.”

At first, it seemed like the perfect lifestyle for him, but later on —

Well, we won’t spoil the ending for you if you haven’t seen the movie. But you may have guessed that he wasn’t developing healthy habits. From an outside perspective, his day seems a bit monotonous.

It’s the opposite of what Edith Wharton describes in her book, A Backward Glance (a lightly edited quote shared in James Clear’s April 25th 3-2-1 Newsletter):

“The producer of old age is habit: the deathly process of doing the same thing in the same way at the same hour day after day, first from carelessness, then from inclination, at last from cowardice or inertia.
Habit is necessary; but it is the habit of having careless habits, of turning a trail into a rut, that must be incessantly fought against if one is to remain alive... one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways."

Compared to this description, Will was definitely in a rut. His self-care routine was the same every day and left no room for creativity or exploration. He simply trudged down the same trail over and over again.

When you decide to become a freelancer, we recommend creating healthy habits that will enhance your flexibility, fulfillment, and financial opportunities. The five-part Self-Care Wheel is meant to give you freedom and prevent careless habits:

  • Physical health (healthy eating, consistent sleep, regular exercise)
  • Mental health (stress management, mindset, purpose and gratitude)
  • Relational health (personal relationships, support network, social groups)
  • Client health (time/schedule boundaries, workload management, client relationships)
  • Organizational health (business systems and processes, personal productivity and development)

Without these habits, it’s easy to become disconnected from work, loved ones, and personal interests. As you burn out, you start to feel physically and emotionally exhausted. Ultimately, you lose motivation and desire to do anything. Like Will Freeman, you’re stuck in a rut.

To get out of it, you can use the Self-Care Wheel. But before that, you need the proper mindset. It’s like having the right tires to keep you traveling smoothly and exploring new trails.

So, let’s return to Edith Wharton’s quote and examine her four recommendations. They’ll help you build the right habits so you can thrive after 50!

Four Ways to Have the Right Mindset for Healthy Habits

1. “Be unafraid of change.”

Change can be difficult. Sometimes it happens to us unexpectedly, and sometimes we need to initiate it ourselves. It’s tempting to avoid change and just keep the status quo.

But fear of change can cause an inertia that keeps you in a rut. As long as you’re moving forward, you can adjust your direction. Ensure that you’re making strategic changes for future growth, not hasty changes out of boredom. And remember that change will help you learn and grow!

2. “Be insatiable in intellectual curiosity.”

Speaking of learning and growing, healthy habits come from a lifelong learning mindset. Maintain that youthful curiosity many of us enjoyed as children. You can apply it to both life and business.

Freelancers often build a learning block into their schedules so they can continue training and upgrading their business skills. But you can also add a learning block into your personal life. Learn a new language, craft, sport, or anything else that you’re curious about. And never stop learning!

3. “Be interested in big things.”

When you become a freelancer, you’re interested in big things. A new world opens up, full of possibilities. We recommend that our students visualize what they want to achieve and make measurable goals to help them reach their dreams.

But sometimes people keep their dreams small because they’re afraid of failure, or they think they’re too old for big things. These limiting thoughts lead to unhealthy habits that will keep you stuck in a monotonous rhythm. Break out of that rut by dreaming big and building habits to make those dreams happen!

4. “Be happy in small ways.”

In the Self-Care Wheel, we recommend that freelancers include purpose and gratitude as part of their mental health. Being happy in small ways is another important part of building healthy habits.

For example, schedule time to journal about your day, listing things you’re thankful for. After all, appreciating the beauty around you is just as important as being “insatiable with intellectual curiosity.”

So, when you’re building healthy habits, remember to include time to enjoy the small things that make you happy:

  • Reading a good book
  • Watching a sunset
  • Enjoying a favorite piece of music
  • Strolling through a garden
  • Coloring with a grandchild or other special child in your life
  • Anything else you can think of!

And we’ll add a fifth recommendation here — don’t be an island, isolated from others! If you decide to become a freelancer, stay connected to fellow freelancers, mentors, or coaches who can help you maintain healthy habits and stay on the right track.

Often, these connections help calm your fears, fuel your intellectual curiosity, and open your mind to big things and small ways to be happy.

Will Freeman wanted to isolate himself from other people and missed out on a fulfilling, meaningful life, until —

Oops, we almost gave away the ending. If you haven’t seen the movie, enjoy watching how he gets out of the rut he built for himself!

Did You Know?

During the Industrial Revolution, Benjamin Franklin was “a great forerunner of sticking to a healthy work-life balance,” according to an article titled “12 Proven Daily Habits From the Past for Improved Well-Being Today.”

As entrepreneurs and thinkers at the time promoted strict time management strategies, Franklin scheduled healthy habits that fit around his professional commitments:

  • Getting up early
  • Going to bed early
  • Reading
  • Personal reflection
  • Socialization.

And Leonardo Da Vinci avoided getting into a rut by structuring his day around a wide variety of activities. This was “a powerful way to keep his mind fresh and engaged.”

Here’s an example of his schedule:

  • Morning: Artistic creation
  • Afternoon: Teaching pupils and learning from fellow masters
  • Evening: Deep philosophical discussions at intellectual salons.

Check out the article for more advice on creating healthy habits (and some interesting examples of how the ancient Romans structured their daily routine).

Words to Live By

“You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old.

– George Burns

Here’s to a life of healthy habits and “island living” that expands your horizons instead of shrinking them!

Until next time,

Craig and Kelly

PS. Check out our recent YouTube video, "Discover 4 Trends that Will Shape Your Freelance Future in 2024"... a must-watch!

Co-founders of Freelance University

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Freelance After 50 Newsletter

Craig & Kelly Cannings, Co-founders of Freelance University

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