Bob Goff is the founding partner of a law firm, a New York Times best-selling author and the honorary consul for the Republic of Uganda. He’s accomplished and successful. But every Thursday he quits something.
As a freelancer it’s OK to quit.
Maybe you need to quit the day job. Or quit that horrible project. Or quit wasting time. Or quit telling yourself you don’t deserve better.
Whatever it is you need to quit, it’s time to give yourself permission to quit.
As freelancers, we’re too busy, doing too much and overburdened by too much garbage, whether it’s poor thinking or bad habits. So quit.
“We can’t change much if we don’t quit much.” –Bob Goff
Bob Goff Quits In Order to Focus
So Bob Goff gives something up every Thursday. Seriously. Thursday comes along and he quits.
Sometimes it’s something real and tangible, like a job. Once Bob resigned a board position at a nonprofit on a Thursday.
Sometimes it’s something less tangible like a bad attitude or pesky habit.
Bob is kind of a wacky guy (he put his personal cell phone number in his book and encourages people to call him any time). But he has a serious point:
We can't change much if we won't quit much. It's Thursday, you can quit anything on a Thursday. What'll it be?
— Bob Goff (@bobgoff) December 5, 2013
It’s too easy to get stuck in a rut. We do something because that’s what we’ve always done. But things change. Life changes. We change. But if we never quit anything, we’re stuck in the past.
Quitting something every Thursday is a way to force yourself to reevaluate what you’re doing and actually shed stuff that doesn’t matter anymore. It’s a way to create margin and bring a little sanity back to your life.
Bob offers a few ideas of things you could quit:
- Quit keeping score.
- Quit believing you’re who you used to be.
- Quit letting other people decide who you are.
- Quit being afraid.
- Quit everything that’s not helpful.
- Quit sorting through our failures.
A lot of those are more attitudes or habits than specific, daily things we can do. I wondered if Bob really quit practical things or if this was more about a frame of mind.
Bob makes his number public, so I gave him a call. Talking on the phone feels like an interruption, especially when it’s out of the blue to a total stranger, so I didn’t want to do it. But Bob seems to thrive on ‘out of the blue,’ so I finally called.
He picked up in one ring.
Turns out he was already on the phone with somebody else, but encouraged me to call back in 10 or 15 minutes when he was done. I did and we had a quick conversation while he was driving somewhere.
He said he quits all kinds of things that will free up time or shake things up.
“Change can be good,” Bob said.
So he quit having an office (he works on a lobster boat he dubbed the “Goffice”).
He quit leaving phone messages (how much time is wasted with that back and forth?).
He quit making appointments (“Friends don’t make appointments.”).
“It frees you up and it works,” Bob said. “It’s not for everybody. It might drive you crazy, and if that’s the case don’t do it.”
But the whole point is to quit doing all the things that hold you back. Maybe getting rid of some of that completely normal stuff will force you to be really creative (and fun—Bob is a lot of fun) and that will be completely worth it.
What Do You Need to Quit as a Freelancer?
So maybe you have some intangibles you need to quit—you need to change the way you think. Or maybe you’ve got some day-to-day practices that just need to go. Maybe it’s how you do your work or maybe it’s actually the work you do.
Whatever it is, this idea of quitting is empowering and inspiring:
6 months ago I quit ebay biz to focus on design. Since then my total freelance income has grown 160%. Its Thursday, quit something. @BobGoff
— Evan Courtney (@EvanCourtney) February 28, 2014
Now it’s your turn. Here are some suggestions of things you might need to quit as a freelancer:
- Quit social media. If Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest isn’t working for you, why keep at it? CopyBlogger quit Facebook when it wasn’t working and they couldn’t fix it.
- Quit charging less than you’re worth. It’s time to raise your rates.
- Quit that crappy project. It’s not worth the stress, the worry, the headache. As a freelancer, it’s OK to fire clients.
- Quit taking it personally. Not everybody has to like you. Not everything you do is brilliant.
- Quit the feast or famine cycle. Start pacing yourself, start managing your work, start marketing all the time. Find ways to beat the cycle.
- Quit working without a contract. Get your stuff together. Realize how a contract can cover your butt and create one. You shouldn’t do work without these standard contract clauses.
- Quit getting paid last. Get your money first, then hand over the completed work. Also, quit working before you get paid. Half up front, half when the work is done.
- Quit putting off backups and security. Procrastinating is never going to hurt so bad. Get BackupBuddy and iThemes Security
- Quit doing everything yourself. Hire people who are better than you. Quit doing your taxes. Quit mowing your lawn. Quit sorting through insurance options. Quit pretending you’re something you’re not.
- Quit waiting for one day. Today is the day. Seize it. Start that dream project today.
- Quit dead projects. Having a dream project can be great for your business. It’s a way to keep yourself sharp, fuel your personal growth and it might even make money. But often those side projects languish with inactivity. If a project has died, let it go. Don’t keep shelling out domain renewals for an idea that didn’t pan out.
- Quit being lonely. You may work alone, but you don’t have to be alone. Join a coworking space. Make lunch appointments. Go to a meetup. Get out there and interact with people. Freelancing is built on relationships.
- Quit taking calls or answering email after hours. Yes, you set your own hours, but that doesn’t mean you have to work 24/7. It can wait.
- Quit neglecting your website. It’s embarrassing for a web designer to have such a lame website. Go fix your site. No more excuses.
- Quit wasting time. There are so many glorious ways to waste time—Netflix, YouTube, social media—ooh shiny! All those things have their place, but you can’t let them distract you. Learn more from Curtis McHale about the importance of focus.
What could you quit doing on a Thursday (or any day)? Do you have a habit to change? A commitment that’s holding you back? A standard practice you’ve never questioned? It’s time to free yourself up, shake things up and make a change.
“What if I quit speaking English?” Bob said on the phone as we finished up. “Wouldn’t that be a riot?”