When we think about the word work, we can’t help but think about money. After all, isn’t work what we do to get money? Yes. But there’s a lot more to work than just money.
I used to have a philosophy towards work—a philosophy that would get me nowhere and that would only feed my ego: If the pay isn’t high enough for what I thought I deserved for my many [read sarcastic] talents, I wasn’t going to take it. That simple. This is a wrong philosophy to live by for many reasons:
1. YOU ARE OVERRATING YOURSELF. You’re probably not as great as you think you are. At least in my case, I thought I had a lot of knowledge in many areas, but I didn’t have the work experience to prove that. I might know that I am capable of doing something, but there must be tangible proof of that for others to believe me [resumé].
2. YOU WON’T GET MANY JOBS. This I-am-so-great attitude won’t get you anywhere unless you’re your own boss or the CEO somewhere. A good employee is teachable and humble and understands well his role in the company. Being stuck up won’t get you many friends.
3. FINDING A GOOD-PAYING JOB IS HARD. A stable job is almost a treasure, specially in this economy. With the cutbacks companies have had to do, you’re lucky if you’re still in. Many people have trouble finding jobs because they are overqualified, and companies can’t pay for their work experience.
4. IT ISN’T ALL ABOUT THE MONEY. Sometimes, money isn’t the best thing you can get out of a job. God showed me this lesson recently.
Freelancing is a dream many hope to attain, specially for art/advertising-related careers (graphic design, writing, marketing, social media). It allows you to be your own boss, to manage your time to your liking, to have creative freedom, and to make a name for yourself, among other things. I want to live the freelance dream too, having time to move around between my creative career and opportunities to serve in social work.
The truth is that entering into the freelance world takes time and a lot of free work. Yes, that means that you’re working as if you’re getting paid, but you’re NOT getting paid. As the word spreads around, people will start to ask for favors. You willingly say yes—and there are perks to that too; but you might find that some of these favors require a lot of time from you, specially if you’re trying to do a good work/design. Sometimes, you even start to wonder whether you should’ve said yes in the first place.
But hang on! There’s light at the end of the road.
WORKING WHEN YOU DON’T WANT TO
Just recently, a friend of mine left to the US to do a master’s degree. A common friend of ours, who I barely knew, found out about my design skills through my blog and asked me to do a virtual invitation for her surprise farewell party. I agreed.
The design didn’t take me enormous amounts of time to do. Actually, I finished it the day after her request. And she was impressed. So much so, that she also requested that I do a video with little messages for my US-bound friend. I also agreed to do that, maybe not as excited as the first request.
Making the video wasn’t hard, but it did take some time from me. I was pushing myself to finish the video before the deadline and despite my reluctancy, at times. In the end, I was able to deliver, and again, they were all very impressed with what Imovie can do. I knew by now that at least all the work was worth it because she had a good impression of me and of my work. Even if she didn’t pay me at the moment, I knew that she would gladly recommend me to other people if the opportunity arose.
FREE WORK AND OTHER PERKS
The point about all of this is that by doing favors and working for free, you might think that the only thing you’re getting is a good reputation and maybe two to three recommendations for projects that may or may not happen. But God sees the heart, and God rewards. He uses even the least likely situations to bring us blessing. Sometimes they are not monetary, but they are so worth it.
To finish the story about the farewell party, my friend left for the US on a Tuesday. At this point, I had already interacted enough with our mutual friend while getting together to settle things about the video and such. Friday morning, she texted me and said: “My family and I are leaving to a hotel right now for the weekend, and my brother can’t go. Do you want to come along?” Talk about surprises. I wasn’t expecting that all, especially because she and I weren’t even that close.
Of course, I said yes. And I knew that this was God’s way of rewarding me for that work I did—a work I had never thought would “get something in return”—if I’m allowed to say that. Not only did I get to relax at a hotel for a weekend for free, enjoying great company; I also made a new friend. And we get along great! I say working for free was totally worth it!
Who knows the many things that would come our way if we were only willing and available to work–even if there’s no pay? Have you received an unexpected gift or blessing because of your free work?
In case you’re wondering about the design… Here it is! [The info text has been changed].