Reader QUIT: Repelling Freedom with My Immaturity (by Courtney Johnston)

Tap Til You're TuckeredWhen I first started out as an entrepreneur in 2010, I wanted one thing: FREEDOM.

I craved freedom like most girls crave shoes.  Or carbs.  I wanted freedom to do what I wanted, when I wanted, where I wanted, and how I wanted.  And I certainly wasn’t willing to settle for anything less.

In fact, I went so rogue that I underlined my fight for freedom with a hot pink sharpie by buying a one-way ticket to Paris.

Well, after eight months of lunchtime champagne cocktails, sleeping until 11:00 a.m., and winging it with my writing work, I was exhausted by freedom.  I spent most of my time deciding what to do and had no energy left to actually do the work that I felt inspired to create.  Every day was a struggle (though I did have a nice view of the Eiffel Tower from my room).

I wasn’t very good with freedom because I wasn’t treating her like the classy broad she is.

Too much freedom, like too much money, will drive you mad without the right systems in place.  If you’re not ready, you can’t handle it.  Like a lottery winner who winds up more broke than ever a year after victory, I was incapable of properly handling freedom.

So, I moved back to the U.S. and spent several months creating systems in my work and life that would bring freedom back to my life.  I missed our late night chats, whimsical walks through Paris, and starry-eyed promises about the future.

Freedom stole my heart, and I don’t think I’ll ever get it back.  Hell, I don’t want it back.  Freedom makes me a better person.  (Aww…)

On my quest to regain freedom’s trust, I realized that she broke up with me because I was doing the following (immature) things:

  • Neglecting to keep a regular schedule.
  • Using crappy tools, electronics, and resources.
  • Spending too much time doing “fun” things with friends and not prioritizing my freedom machine (i.e. my biz) first.
  • Failing to create a plan or goals for my work.
  • Implementing zero systems/processes to facilitate work.
  • Sitting at a messy desk and desktop, with a nonexistent filing system.
  • Trying to do everything myself (finances, marketing, writing, creating, scheduling, etc.).
  • Calling myself a “starving artist” or “freelance writer.”

But I’ve changed.

And I don’t think that freedom will be able to resist me now that I take myself and my business seriously.

Some things I started doing include:

  • Investing in a smartphone.
  • Outsourcing my client schedule to Schedulicity.
  • Creating a filing system and “action folder” for desktop files.
  • Recording my systems and processes (the exact steps and processes I take in every area of my business in so much detail that I could hand them to a total stranger and they could complete the task just as well as I could).
  • Establishing office rituals.  (I always light incense and a candle when I sit down in the morning, for instance.)
  • Prioritizing tasks that directly lead to money.  Everything else is secondary.
  • Creating an editorial calendar for my blog.  (If you don’t have one for yours, this is the numero uno thing that you must do TODAY.)
  • Having mad respect for my Google Calendar.  I don’t betray her anymore.

Acting like a professional (think “world’s best”) requires unique actions for each person.  Your needs may be different than mine depending on your business, but until you decide to take yourself seriously, you’re going to attract amateur work.  No fun!

In fact, I hope that you’ll take 10 minutes right now to list 5 areas of your life where you’re not taking yourself seriously enough.

What systems do you need to put into place in order to kick it up a notch?


Courtney JohnstonCourtney Johnston is a copywriter and the czar of The Rule Breaker’s Club, a rebellious website that helps you create a wildly exciting life + biz. Every month, she publishes a newsletter called “Project Moolah,” where she reports on her progress towards her goal of earning $2,000 a month with her blog by August 2013.



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  • Darius Belejevas

    Ah, your “immature” list looks painfully familiar.

    I used to work as a business performance analyst and would always frown upon managers, who couldn’t implement and use well defined processes and systems in their projects. But surprise surprise, the moment I quit this job, I’ve fallen in the same trap.

    Thank you for sharing this Courtney, it’s a great reminder to handle some of my own stuff 🙂

  • I’ve been navigating many of these same issues when it comes to my freelancing. Learning how to structure my freelance days and prioritize the work that really matters versus the busy work has been tough, but SO worth it. My freedom didn’t feel like freedom until I did!

    And you are so right about the editorial calendar. I’ve just implemented that this year, and it’s been a lifesaver!

  • Yes to both of you! It seems that all entrepreneurs could use a little kick in the bum every once in a while. Even I needed to read this today 🙂

  • Kimberly

    Great post Courtney!