Each task a client assigns to you is Obligation vs Opportunityboth an obligation and an opportunity. Successful freelancers understand this fact, and they make a concerted effort to keep both in balance.

Here is what I mean.


Most people have the tendency to view assignments as obligations. This is natural and healthy. When a client asks you to do something, there’s either a direct or implied understanding that the task must be completed by a certain date and to a certain level of quality.

For the freelancer receiving the delegation, this presents an obligation to perform. (That is, unless the freelancer declines the task.) Such obligations can induce stress on the worker, which is to be expected. However, too many obligations can create an overemphasis on the obligation part of the equation. This can cause the freelancer to miss the exciting opportunity that has presented itself.


I firmly believe that each task you are assigned (or come up with yourself) is an excellent opportunity for your freelancing business.

Think about it for a second. The client looks at you as an individual, thinks about his/her unique situation, and then identifies you as the best fit to solve a problem. Whether you realize it or not, each task is an affirmation of the client’s confidence in your abilities and reliability.

In addition, each new task is another opportunity to earn income for your business and family. Granted, as you become more successful, it is easy to forget this fact. You start to take tasks for granted, and just assume that more tasks will naturally present themselves. It’s good to have confidence in yourself like this, but it’s also important to show gratitude for each new opportunity, however small it may be.

Balancing Obligations & Opportunities

There’s no question that each new work assignment has both an obligation and an opportunity associated with it. Focusing too much on the obligation side can create unnecessary stress, while overlooking the opportunity can cause you to become complacent.

So the next time a client gives you a piece of work to do, thank them for their confidence in you and try not to get too stressed out.

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Matt Keener is the original "Executive in Sweatpants," having built a successful online consulting business (from home). His best-selling book offers tips for capitalizing on outsourcing and freelancing. Matt holds an MBA and has been featured by many recognizable brands, including Upwork (formerly oDesk), Elance, Insightly, the Dave Ramsey Show, and Entrepreneur.com.

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