When talking about all of the reciprocal relationships in the web development world, it is easy to get overwhelmed with what you think you owe other people. But sometimes, it has to be about you. Not that you have to be selfish but, you do need to protect and nurture yourself. If you fail to do so, then you risk becoming disillusioned, depressed, or burned out, all of which will ultimately hurt the people you feel responsible to and possibly kill your business.
It all boils down to the bard’s advice, “To thine own self be true.”
Start by reading this article about how web designers make themselves miserable. Replace web designer with content creator, web developer, or however else you self-identify. Then come back here and we’ll discuss how to avoid these common traps.
You will notice that many of the items on that list revolve around surrendering to various types of pressure, whether they are from clients, your peers, your family, or your current economic state. Any time you do something that you feel pressured to do, you run the risk of demoralizing yourself, which leads us to our first point:
Set Appropriate Boundaries
Setting appropriate boundaries can be beneficial in your personal and professional life. If you own a tech company, these boundaries become even more important.
In the tech industry, almost everything seems like an emergency. Clients expect to be able to get in touch with their developers at all times, especially if you are a freelancer or a small, new company. At the same time, family and friends may put a heavy demand on your time, not realizing the work that goes into maintaining your business.
To prevent stress and keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed, you have to set clear boundaries with your clients, employees, colleagues and loved ones.
Appropriate boundaries are different for every individual. Your boundaries may be about your time or your space. They may be about your communication style or what type of projects you are willing to take on. To figure out what your boundaries are, you need to reflect on what is important to you and then communicate that to the people in your life.
Create a List of Priorities
Not all boundaries are hard boundaries. Sometimes, you are willing to do something, but only if the price is right or the emotional benefit is strong enough. For example, many developers are willing to do free work for certain charities, interesting projects, or loved ones. Others absolutely refuse to do free or discounted work. Either method of working is fine, but it is important to know where and when you are willing to change your general operating method.
To get a better idea of what exchanges you are willing to engage in, you should make a list of priorities in your personal life and business life and then rank them. For example, expanding your skills might be a priority for a new freelancer, while making a certain amount of money might be a priority for the new business owner. These priorities will help you to set your boundaries and create a workflow that reduces your stress and gives you, your clients, and your loved ones more realistic expectations of your work style.
Find a Community You Trust
The next big thing that many developers do to sabotage themselves is to remain outside of the greater development community. As a content writer, it can be super intimidating for me to go to conferences that I know will focus heavily on design and development. However, I know that I have to, simply to plug into a community that understands my struggles and accomplishments.
Besides helping you develop and keeping you up-to-date on the latest industry standards, face-time with other professionals gives you the chance to get your emotional needs met. Things like validation, encouragement, and simple excitement over your current projects are important to exchange with others.
True community engagement will also help you to stop comparing yourself to others and to engage in a more collaborative, supportive relationship with your peers.
Foster Your Own Professional Development
Finally, the key to being happy in any profession is to keep growing. Allowing yourself to stagnate results in boredom and frustration. Take on new work. Projects you aren’t completely comfortable with. Enroll in a course. Expand your business. Hone your abilities. Taking the time to invest in yourself can increase your confidence and increase your income.
So, how do you stay true to yourself? Take the time to learn about yourself. Figure out how to express your needs and wants. Stick up for yourself. Invest in yourself. Do these things, and you can get back to taking care of everyone else.