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With all the resources out there on how to better yourself as a freelancer, you might find yourself in sensory overload wondering who has time to do all this reading that is supposedly crucial to your success. As a self-proclaimed business book junkie, I’ve made it my mission to go back through the shelves and choose the books I thought were most helpful to my career—and give the highlights to you. Today, I’m looking at one of my favorite must-reads for freelancers, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.
Reasons to Read
This book is for every freelancer ever: All people with career autonomy have to hold themselves accountable to their workday, and honestly, that’s difficult. Productivity can go by the wayside without a boss standing over your shoulder, and Pressfield aims to make you consider building habits that will help you cultivate a successful professional life.
Spending time on this book is a solid investment: You’re never going to kick yourself for putting in time to consciously build better habits. And what’s most important is the way in which you’ll change how you view yourself professionally—which Pressfiled breaks down into being either a pro or an amateur. Most of us are probably amateurs and think we’re pros. This is the book to read to level up.
In a Nutshell
The book reads more like a list of commandments than a set of tasks to be completed, and is broken down into three distinct chapters: resistance, combating resistance, and beyond resistance. Pressfield’s boiled down the practices of a successful person, including the way they perceive resistance to accomplishing tasks, so that you can gain an understanding of these practices as you apply them to your own life.
What I like about the way War of Art is written is that it’s easy—especially as a freelancer—to get caught up in the pace of your work without pausing to reflect on the habits you’re building and whether they’re setting you up for the lifestyle you want long term. This book can help refocus you by creating an awareness of habits you may be cultivating that are working, but not working as well as they could be for your long-term success. We all use stop-gap measures to get us through busy times, but we need to start asking if those measures are ultimately the business practices of a pro or are simply band-aids.
The Best Chapters
This book is very short (just under 200 pages), and would make for a quick read. I recommend trying to sit down for a few nights or a long weekend and experiencing it as a whole.
I had a very meditative experience reading this book for the first time while on a camping trip, and found that having the space to ruminate on Pressfield’s points while outside of my everyday environment was helpful to adjusting my business practices once I returned home.
The Critical Takeaway
As a freelancer you are the employee, boss, and entire company. You have to set (and complete) the goals for every project. It all comes down to you. This book gives you the hard facts about responsibility and a solid understanding of what’s needed to make it out there as a freelancer—and how you can shift your perception of yourself as a professional.
Real talk: Some of your perspectives about work right now are wrong. But that’s okay—mine were, too. Something I still ask myself often after reading this book is: “What would a pro do in this situation?” If you can figure that out, your business will be golden.