Working for yourself means less financial certainty—and that’s before you factor in a pandemic. Luckily, you don’t have to sit and stew in your financial anxiety. We asked Brad Klontz, Psy.D., CFP®, a financial psychologist and associate professor of practice at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business, to show us how to cope when worries about money begin to spike.
Ask yourself a series of “if then, what?” questions that lead you toward the worst-case scenario: If you can’t find work that pays decently, then your money troubles will increase. If your money troubles increase, then you won’t make rent. If you can’t make rent, then you’ll have to move in with your parents. “Well, that would suck,” Dr. Klontz says. “But then what would happen?” This thought exercise asks you to face your fears and indulge in your most pessimistic thoughts. “Essentially, what [this exercise will] do is calm down that animal brain that is only concerned about life or death and [help] you realize, ‘You know what, it would suck, but it’d be okay. We’d survive; I’d bounce back,’” he says.
“At least three times a day, ask yourself: ‘Where is the opportunity here?’” Dr. Klontz says, adding that he knows people who have launched businesses amid the pandemic because they discovered new ways to apply their skills. If your current approach to finding gigs or pitching to clients isn’t leading to lucrative work, look elsewhere. Someone outside your usual field could be on the hunt for services you can provide or you may find better luck in an area you used to be more active in but have since migrated away from.This is also a great time to focus on personal growth. Bolster your self-care routine, brush up on old hobbies, or improve your sleep schedule will help you recharge and put you in a position to do better work down the line.
This is particularly challenging now, due to the stay-at-home precautions in place, but Dr. Klontz says that avoiding contact with others will only fuel your anxious thoughts. “There’s nothing worse than being all by yourself feeling lost and alone,” he says. “That's a recipe for depression and anxiety.” Reach out to your friends the next time you want to take your mind off your worries or just vent about them. You’ll probably find that you’re not the only one concerned about finances at the moment, especially if your friends are also self-employed. Even a quick phone call or chat via text will have a profoundly positive impact on your mood, Dr. Klontz says.
Anxiety generates excess energy. You can harness that energy to seek out new opportunities, to deliver your best work, or to vent your frustrations instead of bottling them up. Journaling, for example, not only allows you to get your nagging thoughts out of your head and down on paper, but it also helps you create and visualize an action plan for the days ahead.
How you deal with your financial anxieties is up to you, but how you deal with your finances themselves is a whole lot easier with Wingspan. Our invoicing tool makes getting paid on time stress-free.
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