More workers than ever before are choosing to work for themselves on a contractual basis. Self-employment in the UK is at an all-time high of 14 million. Contractors in particular are the happiest in the UK job market. A study into independent work by the McKinsey Global Institute found that contractors reported higher job satisfaction than their traditionally employed counterparts in 12 out of 14 measured areas of work.
With International Day of Happiness on the 20th March, more people are questioning what happiness really means. Set up by Action for Happiness, International Day of Happiness aims to get everyone thinking about how they can be happier, at home and at work.
With an increasing number of professionals across multiple industries embracing the contracting working style and proving much happier for it, now is a great time to follow in the footsteps of millions. Whether you’ve just started contracting, are already established, or are still considering contracting, we’ve put together a 10-step guide on happier living for contractors:
1. Do What You Love
This might sound obvious, but when you do the work that you’re passionate about, you contribute more value to your end clients. The great thing about contracting is that it allows you to have complete control over your work, so you can do what you enjoy. Doing what you love and having creative freedom over your work will also mean higher levels of job satisfaction and overall happiness.
2. Make Connections
Being proactive in making connections and creating new working relationships is important and rewarding for contractors. This will not only help you get work, but it will often lead to referrals and repeat contracts. Connecting and relating with people is proven to help us feel good, and as a contractor you’ve got the advantage of meeting and working with lots of new people.
3. Be Resilient
It may take longer than expected to win your first contract, and you might not be accepted for each that you apply for, but the key is to be resilient and persist. You will make progress. Increasing your resilience has proven to help when taking on new opportunities, and will ultimately give you the confidence needed to succeed on your contracting journey. For a head start we’ve put together some tools and resources to help you on your contracting journey.
4. Set Goals
No matter the stage of your contracting career, it’s important to set yourself realistic goals. Maybe your goal is to win your first contract, or to work with a particular end client. Whatever it is, setting goals will help you develop in your career, by giving your work meaning and purpose, and giving you a real sense of achievement when accomplished.
5. Take Charge of your Professional Development
As a contractor you are your own boss, meaning you’re free to develop within your role. Being in charge of your own professional development is a leading factor in the happiness and job satisfaction of contractors. Take control and develop in a way that’s right for you. This will make you feel positive about your work and what the future holds.
6. Be Proud
Achieving a goal, bagging your first big contract or completing a contract you’ve been working on for a while are all achievements to be proud of. It’s important to take time to remind yourself of what you’ve achieved and feel good about it. Reports indicate that 82% of contractors are proud of their careers, and this is a major contributor to greater job satisfaction.
7. Make the most of your flexibility
In contracting you have a lot more freedom and flexibility than those in traditional employment. Invariably you can choose your working hours and location, something that makes contractors much happier. As a free agent, do what suits you and enjoy the flexibility that contracting brings.
8. Organisation is key
Being a contractor means that you’re responsible for sourcing your contracts and for taking charge of various administrative tasks. When you’re coming to the end of a contract, make sure you plan ahead and know where your next contract is coming from. If you run a limited company, you will need to organise your own invoices and accounts, but you can hire a professional accountant to help you. Embracing your professional freedom and being organised in your approach will make you a lot happier and successful.
9. Know your Worth
It may be tempting to take any job that comes your way when starting out as a contractor. However, you need to make sure you’re charging a rate that can sustain you and make you feel valued. Make sure you know your worth and charge a price that’s right for you. This will not only support you financially, but evidence has suggested that if we value ourselves and our worth, we experience greater levels of happiness and optimism. Check out our handy guide to understanding contracting rates and how to set yours.
10. Remember Why
To be happy as a contractor it’s important to remind yourself why – why you set out to work for yourself and chose to do what you do for a living. This will help you define the value you bring to your clients, set goals, achieve what you want, and keep you focused and satisfied with your work. Enjoy the many benefits that being a contractor brings and remind yourself of what these are.
Did you enjoy this article from ContractingWISE? Contact us to chat about resources and solutions we have for independent contractors like you.