Navigating New Territory and the 3 Ps

In the past few weeks, I've been feeling a lot of things: Excitement. Fear. Creative explosions. Doubt. 

After over a year of balancing full-time work and freelancing on the side, I'm officially freelancing full-time. I could not be more excited about the idea of taking on more clients, learning about new industries, collaborating with new and old friends, and building a creative community around my work. The creative/entrepreneurial part of my brain is on fire, knowing that the possibilities are truly endless. 

I'm humbled by the support of my community of friends, clients, coworkers, and family who are confident in my ability to do this. (Again, with feeling!: I can do this.)

But I'm also feeling super vulnerable. After several years working with familiar faces, in a familiar field, on a team of like-minded marketers, the idea of completely branching out on my own has me feeling... a bit out on a limb. 

Not knowing where money will come from, or how I will structure my days, is equally exciting and horrifying. I can do anything! But I can't do everything - something I'll need to continue to remind myself as I dive deeper into full-time client work.

Another unknown: How will my work habits and tendencies translate into full-time freelancing? What challenges will I face as I navigate this new way of working? I want to be prepared for every unknown - although I realize that a key part of survival as a freelancer is accepting that this may never be possible.

The 3 Ps: Personalization, Pervasiveness, and Permanence

An incredible friend offered the 3 Ps framework as a way to navigate setbacks, obstacles, or unhelpful tendencies, based on a study out of U. Penn about helplessness. The basic premise is, when facing an issue, ask yourself:

  • Is it personal? (Is this happening because of me or just to me?) 
  • Is it pervasive? (Does this have to affect all areas of my life?)
  • Is it permanent? (Will these feelings last forever?)

These seem to be particularly applicable to freelancers, who rely on themselves to both find and do work well. Here are my thoughts on how the 3 Ps might apply to freelancing life.


As a people-pleaser, I'm especially prone to the first one, personalization: Was it something I said or did? Even if you're fully aware of the circumstances that cause someone to act in a particular way - it's still tempting to blame yourself when situations don't work out.

Usually, this feeling comes from a good place, out of a desire for continuous improvement. But this framework provides an important reminder to always consider what is and is not within our control before assigning blame to ourselves. This seems to be especially important for people who work for themselves, who might feel directly responsible for everything that happens in their work. 


Pervasiveness is also interesting, especially as it applies to freelancers: Do all issues need to spread like wildfire, destabilizing every part of our lives? Does stress from work need to spill out into relationships, friendships, etc.? Does your dog need to be neglected because you had a stressful day and don't feel like walking?

This can also apply to good habits: Does a negative experience have to derail your best laid plans for exercising after work every day? Pervasiveness seems to be the enemy of a fully balanced, dynamic life, because if you can't contain issues within the realm they affect, you risk compromising all of the good in all of the other parts of life.

This is an important lesson to keep in mind as I embark on this next chapter: Just because my office and home happen to be the same place and my schedule is fluid - that does not mean I have to merge all of the facets of my life.


It can be so easy, in times of stress, to feel as if everything is stressful, everything will always be stressful, and this is just the way things are and will be. Of course, like all other things in life, stress and bad experiences ebb and flow - they are not permanent fixtures. While some experiences might scar us, the urgency and intensity of emotion behind them will fade - they are not permanent.

In these next few months, I know there will be high highs and low lows - but I must keep in mind that these are all part of a journey that is ever-evolving. It's like the saying I heard often in Catholic school: This too shall pass. No matter what challenges we face - we keep going. Or as my dear friend Freddie Mercury said it: The show must go on. 

Looking Ahead

My next few weeks are already full of exciting new adventures: an ebook, an article about cosmetic plastic surgery, and a bit of web design! Till next time.



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