Have you ever heard anyone talk about aligning your work and business with your values?
I used to think that meant working with clients that match up with your morals or the things you believe. If a brand pushed a certain message, for example, you would only work with them if you also wanted to promote that belief.
I’ve realized recently that that is only part of the idea. You might value the things you believe in, but they are only a small part of what you find important.
Instead, aligning your business with your values means finding work that meets your priorities. It means taking jobs that provide the time, mental health, and capacity to live your most fulfilling life.
For our podcast guest this week, for instance, family takes precedence. Kat Boogaard wants to spend quality time with her husband and children. She wants to be fully present in every moment, not worrying about emails or overwhelmed by work as she plays with her boys.
Living by her values means saying no to the projects, clients, and opportunities that disrupt her balance at home. Though she once set her sights on a multi-six-figure income and notoriety in her work, today she is content to do the work she enjoys while making her family the priority.
When I listened to this week’s episode, it was a timely reminder to measure the work I was doing against the things that matter to me.
At the time, I was in the middle of gearing up for a project that I didn’t want to do. Though I had had good experiences with this client before, they had asked for help with a series of new deliverables.
As I dove into the details, it was clear that the new person running the marketing efforts was out of her depth. The deliverable descriptions were vague and I couldn’t get the client to commit on the details. Even worse, they wanted the content within the week, but wouldn’t provide the information I needed by the date I requested.
They weren’t respecting my time, my needs, or the equal footing we needed to work as partners.
Listening to the podcast helped me realize how their actions chafed against my values.
I value doing my best work and using it to help clients do the same. I can’t do that if they don’t give me the resources and time I need.
I value joining a team and working with them to do great things. I can’t do that if the client doesn’t respect or treat me as a partner and equal.
So I made the hard decision that value-driven living requires and fired the client. It meant not getting a return on the time I’d invested in the project and potentially creating conflict, but it also meant relief and realignment.
But that’s not the only benefit. Saying no also freed me up for other opportunities. As my therapist says, saying yes to one thing means saying no to another. And the reverse is true. The more you say no to the opportunities that don’t fit, the more time and energy you will have for the things that do.
Losing the client that doesn’t want to pay your new rates gives you margin to find one that does. Declining a project with an impossibly tight timeline allows you to avoid the stress of taking it. Leaving a traditional job to freelance gives you the control to put your needs first.
Plus, prioritzing your values is a great way to fight imposter syndrome. When you do the work you want to do, and say no to the projects that don’t fit, you will feel more content and confident. You can be proud of the decisions you’re making and the business you’re building.
At the end of the day, remember that freelancing gives you the freedom to find work that you don’t hate. Finding work that helps you feel fulfilled won’t be easy, but it’s undoubtedly worth it.
Get the full story here to learn how Kat found work that brings her joy, what got her through the tough times, and more about her freelancing journey.