mark manson subtle art

How not to give a F* for Freelancers – book review

I love books and I have a long list of publications I want to read, so I decided to start sharing my opinion and valuable lessons that I learned from them hoping it will make me more motivated.

I started to read  A subtle art of not giving a F*uck by Mark Manson during last Christmas (feels like great timing for it, right?). It was love from the first pages – uncompromising, written with a great sense of humour. But most of all it was full of observations that I could relate to not only in my personal life, but also in my work – struggles, failures, happiness and choices… you know what I mean.

Below I give you a take away why you should read this book and why it’ll definitely change the way you think.


Choose what you care about

Care more about important things. Don’t focus on details. Reject what is not important.A choice is yours. Find something meaningful to worry about. These are just a few interesting highlights of this book.

In the era of social media, it seems like we run a daily marathon to be greater, happier and more popular. Information that we are exposed to have grown within the last decade and seems like our brain doesn’t know how to deal with this chaos at all.

With a lot of pressure, it’s hard to decide what’s really important. But we desperately need to reject some ideas and focus on others, more important ones simply, for our better mental health.

While Manson refers mostly to our emotional and private life, I find it very accurate when it comes to our profession as well.

For most of my career, I was juggling between many different hats. I wanted to be good at everything because it felt like this is what clients expecting me to be. Thanks to this experience I gain a lot of skills and knowledge but that was pretty damn exhausting. I woke up one day in the age of 25, physically and emotionally tired. Working full time, doing my master, running personal project of an online magazine and taking as much of freelance work as I could fit in my schedule. On top of that, I didn’t sleep enough, I didn’t move enough and didn’t eat properly. Long story short – I wasn’t very happy with all of this.

Took me a few more years to realise that narrowing my scope of work is the only way to improve my career and my life.

Just a year ago I set down and made a list: what do I care the most? What kind of projects sparks joy in me? What are my strongest skills and how I can make them work to make my life enjoyable again?

I stop to care about things that don’t make me excited. I focus on a few of them that seemed fun.

So if you feel overwhelmed by the amount of information, you don’t know what to do with all the pressure, just stop and find out what is worth your attention. A choice is always yours.


Appreciate the struggle

Manson makes his point – life is full of pain and you will never be able to avoid it. Instead of hiding your head in the sand or rejecting it, just try to embrace. It’s ok to be unhappy sometimes, feel bad about the life and choices we made. In fact, these negative emotions play a great role in the universe. It’s a call to action  – a sign that it’s time to move and finally change something.

On top of that, in Manson’s opinion, only pain can give us real happiness. Sounds crazy, right? But this really makes sense to me. Imagine the satisfaction when after months of hassle and training you are able to run a marathon. You get to the destination sore and close to tears – but you made it! How does it feel?

The same feeling you get when you develop your business, face rejections, fail hundreds of times, but through these hard work, you get a new client who is ready to trust you. And this one client is just the beginning. Happiness is born from struggle, baby!


What makes us happy eventually will make us cry

We all want to live our lives doing what we love the most. Some people will tell you – If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. But others will tell you a total opposite – never allow the hobby to become your profession – you will quickly learn to hate it.

Seems like Manson focuses on the second option. In his opinion, what makes us happy today, will make our life miserable tomorrow. The author gives us some pretty interesting examples – a person that we love will make us cry, a house that we built will fall apart and… job we dream about will make us frustrated and tired.

How many times you were disappointed by an outcome of your work, you thought it’s not enough, a client didn’t pay you on time or you went through creative crises. Obviously, you love to be a freelancer, and you care about your career (sometimes maybe even too much) but this time world seems just too much. Been there, done that. Doing what you love can bring emotional breakdowns.

It’s good to realize that it’s never perfect. There are up and downs. It’s important to know how to survive it and move forward. Don’t try to fight, don’t feel bad about yourself. Just close your eyes, take few breaths and continue doing a great job. Because deep inside you know you are right!


Do you really want it?

What problems are you ready to suffer for? What kind of pain are you ready to experience to achieve your goals?

Many people want to be freelancers, want to be digital nomads – they imagine themselves with laptops under a palm tree sipping expensive cocktails – but not many are able to see a full picture.

When you choose your career and when you dream about working from home and having flexible hours, think if you are ready to suffer through sleepless nights, empty bank account and painful backbone. Are you ready to make sacrifices to achieve your goals? If your answer is yes, you’re motivated enough to make these dreams come true.

Manson’s story how he planned to be a rockstar and never achieved anything in this field made me think about my life too. About my dreams and plans. And what I did to be here where I am right now. What I’ll do to get where I want to be in the future.


You are not special

With everything that we do in our work, we want to be original and always on the top of the game. But is it actually possible? When everything has been already said, everything has been already invented, reaching for originality seems like a frustrating thing to do.

In a creative world everything is just a result of inspiration. Your work is not special, your style probably will be compared to other person’s. You will hear ‘That reminds me of…’ hundreds of time.

Manson wants you to face it – you’re not special.

Realising that brings a great relieve. I mean it! Now you don’t have to focus on being one of a kind. Just do what you do the best. Be inspired, look at others, try new things. Without stress and frustrations. Be yourself – that’s enough.


Power of unknown

Since I started to be more active on the internet I noticed a really annoying thing among other graphic designers. Every single person has an opinion and to treat these opinions as facts.

But we forget about one universal truth Manson writes about. We don’t know anything and we’re wrong about everything. We learn whole life and something that seems true today can change tomorrow. Realizing that will make us more open, eager to learn and faster improve our skills.


Don’t wait for things to happen

Lack of motivation is like your annoying friend who pops up at your door when you are totally not prepared? You are late for a meeting, running like crazy to get your pieces together but he insists to have a coffee and cookie with you. Welcome to the club. But the good news is here! You can find the way to politely kick this unwanted guest out of your doorstep.

Last year I started to follow 5 Second Rules by Mel Robbins. Every time I feel unmotivated I trick my brain. I stop thinking and just start to do it. That turned my head into the action mode and after a while, I realise I’ve done so many things that actually if I decide to continue, I can finish very soon and start to enjoy my free time.

Manson advice is: even when you don’t know what you’re doing, just keep going. It will clarify in a while. Action creates inspiration. And when great ideas arrive, we are motivated and ready to jump right into the zone.


Action—> Inspiration —> Motivation


These are a few useful things I learned from Manson’s book. I could continue because every page is full of interesting observations, but I’ll rather advise you to buy it and read it yourself. It’s such a fun and impactful literature.


And what’s your opinion about not giving an f* philosophy? Do you agree with the things I wrote above? Leave your comment.


Hi, my name is Magdalena. Freelance graphic designer with a passion for creative thinking, travels and coffee. I'm inspired by new challenges and every day life. I observe, read and listen. That's how I learn and gain experience to use it in my works.

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