This is a guest post by Kourtney Whitehead

One third of all US workers are part of the gig economy—working part-time or full time, as freelance or contract employees. More than 25 million Americans started or are running their own businesses in the last year. And while there are widespread debates about the tangible pluses and minuses for the independent worker themselves, and the economy as a whole, opportunities to work on your own terms have become mainstream, continue to grow, and are here to stay.

Today’s independent workers have a wide variety of skills, backgrounds and needs. They represent everything from a food delivery driver to a freelance attorney to a CEO of a one-person startup. But regardless of background, there’s two things you can count on when you go it alone: your work life will be more unstructured and, often times, lonely.


Here are three tips (derived from lessons learned by Corporate America) to help you meet your unique needs in this new working culture.


1.  Define your Purpose

Most large businesses have a mission, value, and/or purpose statement. They prominently display these messages to help their employees understand what the company stands for and how they hope to make an impact. As an independent worker, you may, or may not, have drafted these things for yourself. And while a clear mission (the what) and values (the how) are important to know, defining your purpose (the why) will have the greatest impact on your daily satisfaction. If you previously worked in a large corporate environment, you probably took for granted how often the meaning of your work was pointed out. As an independent worker, you will have to look for meaning and define purpose yourself. Why does your work matter? Some examples of purpose statements fitting to gig or solo work are: I help people make smart decisions about (fill in the blank); I transport people to the next step of their life’s journey; I make life less stressful for others. Take the time to draft your own purpose statement and place it visibly in the location you work most often or tape it to a corner of your laptop. It will help you feel more connected to the people you routinely interact with and the role you play in their lives.


2. Build a Real-Life Community

The rise of coworking locations like WeWork are an example of the increasing needs of the independent worker for connection. But whether you have the ability to work in one of these environments, or not, you have to be deliberate about building your own community and seeking out face-to-face relationships. The case for and against virtual work lives has been a pendulum swinging back and forth for decades. It’s a critically important, but complicated, business issue for most companies. Virtual work environments increase a worker’s sense of autonomy and flexibility, both major predictors of job satisfaction. But real-life interactions build deeper connections which foster greater creativity, collaboration, and a sense of belonging. The most successful companies have worked to get this balance right because it has a significant effect on their employees’ productivity, and you should too. If you are spending too much time physically alone, consider what alternatives you may have to building a real-life work community. Look into coworking locations (if that’s an option for you), join local business groups, or find meetups in your town for people doing similar work. We are all busy, and this is especially true of the hustle required when working independently, but investing time in building your community will have a major impact on your overall fulfillment.


3. Celebrate your Wins

From company anniversaries to meeting annual sales goals, there are many reasons to throw a party in large corporations. But even the smaller companies tend to have a luncheon or free breakfast to celebrate a milestone. As an independent worker, it can be easy to simply forget to celebrate your work, which may lead to days that feel monotonous and accomplishments that go unrecognized. Depending on your type of work, there may be many occasions worth celebrating – clients landed, engagements ending, specific business goals achieved, or simply honoring your own tenacity by reaching a certain number of hours worked or services delivered. This doesn’t have to be a costly celebration; it can be a special coffee run, a song you play only to acknowledge achievements, or a small treat you spring for. Either way, don’t celebrate alone. Include the people you love in your events and don’t downplay it. Your time and your life matters; whatever you’ve been working on, it deserves to be celebrated.


About the Guest Post Author:

Kourtney Whitehead has focused her career on helping people reach their work goals, from executive searches to counseling to career transitions, through her positions at top executive recruiting firms and consulting companies. Her site,, is an online community focused on supporting the creation of spiritually centered work lives. She is a sought-after speaker and podcast guest. Her new book, Working Whole, shares how to unite spiritual and work life.

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