How 3 Freelancers Found Meaning and Purpose in Their Work

According to a study from the Freelancer’s Union and Upwork, 75% of full-time self-employed workers say that being able to choose their own projects is a major motivation for leaving behind traditional employment. Consulting firm Strategy& found that a clear sense of purpose excites and motivates workers.And during tumultuous times like a pandemic, it's important to take stock of your career and ask yourself: Do I feel passionate about my work and motivated to complete my assignments?  See how three solopreneurs balance paychecks with purpose—and how you can find more meaning in your own work.

Helping Others Find Calm

Kat Koh is a career coach for self-employed creatives. During the pandemic, she's spent a lot of time working with clients to “cool down the smoke alarm in their brain, long enough to actually use their creative powers.” Many of us have had to deal with a sudden loss of work. Koh reminds her clients, “You didn’t miss an email telling you how to deal with a pandemic. There wasn’t more you could have done.” She has a favorite quote from Rebecca Solnit: “‘Emerge’ is in the word ‘emergency.’” She adds, “There’s space now for something to emerge. Allow yourself time to be affected, instead of jumping into strategy. Then you can actually have a fair shot at seeing what is seeking to emerge. At the heart of your purposeful work is always a desire to contribute."

Amplifying Under-represented Voices

Quinci LeGardye, an LA-based journalist, focuses on topics that affect her community, like Black-owned coffee shops that serve communities under-represented in L.A. news, she says. “And Black women politicians in L.A., because I thought their work should have more of a platform.” LeGardye has also recently covered a comedic web series about mental health. “The mental health stories are definitely ones I wanted to pitch because of their impact on readers,” she adds.Because of the pandemic, she’s had to adjust to meet market demands: “I've gone from primarily writing stories that made me happy, to writing about government bureaucracies and the struggle that Black people are having getting aid. I'm Black, so writing about politics is gonna be harsh because a) it affects me personally, and b) it doesn't always affect me positively.”  

Pivoting with Purpose

Travel journalist Lola Méndez started her writing career to make a difference. “I initially made the transition from public relations to journalism because I felt I could make a greater impact writing about issues directly, rather than pitching on behalf of clients,” she says. “Sustainability, social justice, gender equality, and animal rights are the most meaningful to me. As a full-time traveler, I also enjoy writing about tourism, which is my main beat. Due to the pandemic, I've had to pivot into other areas such as healthcare. The topics have been incredibly important, but it's been challenging to do it justice.”

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