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Is That ‘Gig’ Worth It? Finding Mental Stability Amidst Uncertainty


What does it mean to be flexible? At work, being flexible means having options to decide the amount of work and time you put in for one or multiple jobs. Carrying this thought ahead is the world of Gig Economy. In essence, the ‘Gig Economy’ is a part of the labor market that relies on part-time positions to be filled by freelancers and contractors rather than full-time employees. A ‘Gig’ means a task or project that lasts for a specified time that’s usually short. 


In recent times, especially post-COVID, there has been a huge change in how most of us look at work. With hybrid working styles being adopted by established firms, along with opportunities provided by food delivery or cab companies, there has been a rise in the scope for both freelance or contractual work for different sections of society. India constitutes nearly 40% of freelance jobs globally, with around 15 million people taking up such jobs. Seeing the flexibility that the ‘Gift of Gig’ provides, you must be thinking: ‘Wow! It must feel great to be the boss of my time and earnings!’ However, the picture isn’t as rosy as it looks. Of course, the flexibility is there, but it can come with its share of instability and uncertainty which can impact your overall well-being in many ways. But what are those ways? Let’s find out!


Flexibility vs Security: The Fight to Survive


No matter how low or high the income is, a full-time job comes with the security of receiving a monthly paycheck. In a freelance or contractual setup, uncertainty can strike you in many forms. It may take you time to find your next gig, and if that happens, you might feel the pressure of keeping yourself and your loved ones financially secure. Also, the amount of work and what it pays you may vary from time to time. Especially for contractual workers, the problem doesn’t end here. Delivery partners and cab riders have to pay certain additional costs such as onboarding fees or service charges, because of which some of them end up spending more than they earn! Since the lockdown in 2020, 47% of them could not meet their expenses without borrowing money and 83% of them had to use their savings! Even for professionals such as freelance content writers or graphic designers, the stress of retaining existing clients or finding new opportunities can be both mentally exhausting and financially unfulfilling. Knowing this, don’t you think managing finances is a tough ride in the road of Gig Economy?


Things ‘Gig-sters’ May Miss Out On


In addition to a fixed income, employers provide a range of benefits to full-time employees, such as paid leaves, provident fund contributions, and health insurance to cover them and their families. However, with several regulations and standards yet to be established for the Gig Economy landscape, part-time workers have to ensure such medical covers for themselves and their loved ones all on their own. Being prepared for financial and health-related emergencies can be a big challenge for them. 


What About The Mind?


In addition to all the financial and security-based issues, the unpredictable nature of work and the fluctuating income can take a toll on the mental well-being of a gig worker in many ways such as the following:


Lack of Appreciation

Compared to a full-time setup where people see you in action regularly and pat your back, the same might not be true if you are a gig worker. With short project durations and frequent changes in the people you work with, it’s not always possible to form those appreciation bonds with your clients or employers.

Irregular Working Hours: 

Depending on the number of tasks at hand, you may often end up mixing your work and life as a freelancer and that may lead to uneven sleep patterns and an unorganised lifestyle.

Unfulfilled Expectations: 

Whether it’s the pressure of not earning enough or the dissatisfaction of not getting enough fulfilling projects, these unwanted outcomes can severely impact your mental health as a gig worker.


However, in this storm of uncertainty, it is possible to ensure stability along with flexibility. All you need is proper planning and prioritising. If you are a gig worker going through these challenges, you may think, ‘How do I make things better for myself?’ Read on to know what you can do. 


Setting Yourself Up as a Gig Worker


Taking up freelance or contractual work is entirely your choice. However, your inner calling must also be supported with a secure future for yourself and your family. Here’s what can help:


Maintain an Emergency Fund: 

Make sure that you consistently save a significant portion of your earnings and put it aside for emergencies. 

Establish Systems and Routines: 

This may take time and patience, but establishing proper processes and systems to reach potential leads and retain clients can keep your income flowing in. While you do so, adopt a promising daily routine of activities to keep yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally charged.

Share What’s Going On: 

Whether it’s your full-time job or freelance work, there can be days when things don’t seem to work out. Do not keep them to yourself. Share it all with your family or trusted friends and figure out the best possible solutions for such situations.

Reflect On What Works For You:

 Is freelancing really your thing? Did you make this decision just because of seeing your friends being their bosses? If your answer is ‘Yes!’ and you find it’s not working for you, consider seeking a full-time job. There’s nothing right or wrong about it. After all, financial stability and career management must be your top priority.  


All in all, when flexibility is backed by security, you can G.I.G. (Get Into the Groove) and pave your way to a career and life of happiness, abundance, and fulfillment. It’s all about staying aware, planning it right, and being prepared for unforeseen scenarios. 


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