Project Management

Mental Health and the Independent Contractor

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at [email protected]. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

I have been working for myself for more than 15 years. There have been times that have been great, and there have been times that have been extremely stressful.

Like many independent contractors, I thought that the stress was just part of the job. I accepted that I was trading security for freedom, and that with that came all of the uncertainty around where the next client or next contract were going to come from. I knew that there would be nights when I was lying awake wondering if I had made the right decision—and whether there was going to be enough revenue in the next quarter to pay the bills.

And there were those days, and nights—but not as many as I feared. Maybe that was luck, or maybe it was well-planned hard work; but the things that I thought would cause me anxiety and stress when I started working for myself didn’t turn out to be significant issues. That didn’t mean that there weren’t other things to keep me awake and raise my blood pressure.

Unrealistic customer expectations, multiple conflicting deadlines, every client’s assumption that I worked only for them, and the numerous emails, phone calls and messages at unreasonable hours all made me question whether it was all worth it. When I talk to other contractors—especially those who don’t tend to work full time for just one client at a time—I hear a lot…

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