Freelancing requires a unique set of skills that go beyond technical expertise. In addition to honing their craft, successful freelancers must also possess meta skills, which are overarching skills that are essential for success in any field. These abilities enable freelancers to manage their work, communicate effectively, and navigate challenges and opportunities in their careers.
In this article, we’ll explore 11 essential meta skills that every freelancer should develop to achieve long-term success in their professional pursuits.
What Is a Meta Skill?
A meta skill is a higher-order skill that enables individuals to learn, acquire, and apply other skills more effectively. It is a skill that allows individuals to learn how to learn, adapt to change, and solve problems in a variety of contexts. Meta skills can include critical thinking, communication, creativity, self-awareness, adaptability, and emotional intelligence.
These abilities are often considered essential for success in today’s rapidly changing and complex world. By developing meta skills, individuals can enhance their ability to learn and apply new knowledge, and ultimately increase their chances of success in their personal and professional lives.
In the article on What is a Meta Skill, Erika B. Ervin, a well-being and work place specialist concludes:
11 Meta Skills To Become a Successful Freelancer
1. Finding Purpose And Sticking to It
Purpose is not a fixed attribute, but rather a meta skill that can be developed and maintained over time. Developing the ability to find and maintain purpose at work is crucial, especially for those with leadership aspirations. A strong sense of personal purpose can help individuals make tough decisions, positively impact their colleagues, and drive innovation and change. Business leaders value those who display a deep sense of purpose and are able to align with the organization’s goals and motivate their teams to do the same. Being connected to one’s purpose makes for great leadership and an ability to influence stakeholders effectively.
2. Connecting the Dots
“Connecting the dots” is a meta skill that involves linking together various facts and ideas to form a comprehensive understanding of a situation. Those who possess this ability can see beyond the details and comprehend how seemingly unrelated pieces of information contribute to the bigger picture. Drawing logical connections between diverse pieces of information and assessing how individual actions may impact outcomes are essential metacognitive abilities for the modern workforce. By developing the skill to connect the dots, individuals can become better problem-solvers and decision-makers in their personal and professional lives.
3. Self Motivation
Self-motivation is a crucial meta skill for freelancers. Working as a freelancer often means working alone, without the motivation and support that comes with working in a team. Freelancers must be self-driven and able to motivate themselves to complete tasks and meet deadlines.
Without this, freelancers may struggle to remain productive and focused on their work. Being self-motivated also means having a clear understanding of one’s goals and priorities and taking the initiative to pursue them. Freelancers who possess this skill are more likely to succeed, as they are better equipped to handle the challenges of freelancing and maintain a high level of productivity and quality work.
Effective storytelling is a powerful tool that can change the way people think and act. When you possess the ability to tell compelling stories, you can capture your audience’s attention, engage them emotionally, and motivate them to take action based on the story you’ve shared.
Storytelling isn’t just a skill required by salespeople – it enables you to connect with people from diverse backgrounds, empathize with their experiences, and shape their perceptions. In a business context, storytelling is a way to connect customers with your brand by highlighting how your solutions can solve their problems. Customers may not care about your business objectives, but they care about finding solutions to their pain points. By mastering effective storytelling skills, you can frame your company’s expertise as the best solution to their needs and establish a stronger connection with your audience.
Creativity is a fundamental meta skill for freelancers. It enables individuals to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to problems. Freelancers who possess this skill can differentiate themselves from the competition by offering unique perspectives and approaches to their work.
Creativity also allows freelancers to explore new avenues, experiment with different techniques, and take on unconventional projects. It helps freelancers stay inspired and engaged with their work, leading to higher quality work and increased client satisfaction. Moreover, creativity can enable freelancers to adapt to changing client needs and emerging trends in their field. By cultivating and leveraging their creativity, freelancers can stand out in their industry, build a strong reputation, and ultimately achieve long-term success.
6. Financial Management
Financial management is a critical meta skill for freelancers, as it involves managing income, expenses, and overall financial stability. Freelancers must have a good understanding of their finances to ensure that they are earning a sustainable income and not overspending.
This skill also requires freelancers to track and manage their expenses, such as software subscriptions, office supplies, and taxes. Without proper financial management, freelancers may struggle to stay afloat financially and may have difficulty growing their business. By mastering financial management, freelancers can make informed decisions about pricing, negotiate better contracts, and invest in their professional development. Moreover, this skill helps freelancers plan for the future and build a solid financial foundation for their personal and professional goals.
Adaptability is an essential meta skill for freelancers. In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, freelancers must be able to adjust to shifting client needs and changing industry trends. Those who possess this skill can pivot quickly and seamlessly, keeping pace with the latest developments and opportunities. Being adaptable also means being open to learning new skills and techniques, taking on new challenges, and embracing new technologies.
Freelancers who are adaptable are better equipped to handle unexpected challenges and disruptions, such as changes in project scope or sudden drops in income. By developing and leveraging their adaptability, freelancers can stay relevant and competitive in their field, providing clients with the high-quality work they demand. Ultimately, adaptability is a key factor in freelancers’ ability to succeed and thrive in their professional pursuits.
Self-awareness refers to the ability to recognize and regulate one’s own emotions and reactions in various situations. It also involves acknowledging one’s strengths and weaknesses and understanding one’s capabilities. Individuals who possess high levels of self-awareness can manage their emotions effectively, preventing negative outcomes and promoting healthy self-esteem.
This enables them to trust themselves to make sound decisions even in high-stress scenarios and avoid conflicts with others. By developing self-awareness, individuals can enhance their communication skills, build stronger relationships, and achieve personal and professional growth.
Problem-solving is a vital meta skill for freelancers, as they often encounter a variety of challenges and obstacles in their work. Those who possess this skill can identify problems, evaluate various solutions, and implement effective strategies to resolve issues. Freelancers who are skilled in problem-solving can help clients overcome obstacles, meet deadlines, and achieve their goals. They can also proactively identify potential issues and take steps to prevent them from occurring.
Additionally, problem-solving skills enable freelancers to approach their work with a solutions-oriented mindset, allowing them to focus on opportunities rather than challenges. By cultivating this skill, freelancers can increase their value to clients and establish a reputation for delivering results. Ultimately, problem-solving is a critical meta ability that helps freelancers navigate complex situations and drive success in their work.
Giving and receiving feedback is a vital meta competency for freelancers. This skill involves providing constructive feedback to clients, colleagues, or employees, as well as accepting feedback and integrating it into one’s work. Freelancers who possess this skill can improve the quality of their work and enhance their relationships with clients and colleagues. Giving feedback enables freelancers to communicate expectations, identify areas for improvement, and provide guidance to clients to help them achieve their goals. Meanwhile, receiving feedback allows freelancers to grow and develop their competencies, learn from mistakes, and continuously improve their work.
By developing this skill, freelancers can establish a reputation for delivering high-quality work and maintaining strong relationships with clients and colleagues. Ultimately, giving and receiving feedback is a critical meta ability that helps freelancers enhance their work and drive success in their professional pursuits.
The ability to prioritize effectively is a valuable meta skill that can benefit individuals in all areas of life. Those who possess this ability understand that effective prioritization isn’t just about working smarter, but also about considering the bigger picture and keeping future outcomes in mind.
By developing this skill, individuals can drive value in every task they undertake, even mundane ones, and organize tasks in a hierarchical sequence that enables them to achieve long-term goals efficiently. Effective prioritization allows individuals to focus their time and energy on the most critical tasks and avoid wasting resources on low-priority tasks. To practice prioritizing tasks, use time management software like Traqq, which will give you lots of useful insights into how you spend your time.
Now that we’ve shared a list of essential meta competencies for freelancers, we are very excited to hear from you!
Meta Skills vs. Soft Skills
Meta skills and soft skills are both important for professional success, but they differ in their scope and level of abstraction.
Soft skills refer to interpersonal and communication skills, such as teamwork, problem-solving, and time management. They are specific, tangible skills that individuals can learn and develop through training and practice.
On the other hand, meta abilities are overarching skills that enable individuals to learn, adapt, and thrive in a variety of situations. These skills are often more abstract and difficult to measure, such as self-awareness, adaptability, and critical thinking. Meta skills are less about specific actions or behaviors and more about an individual’s approach to learning and problem-solving.
In his article on The Metaskills You Need to Thrive in the 21st Century, Gustavo Razzetti, the CEO at Fearless Culture, does a very good job of illustrating how meta abilities differ from other soft skills:
How to Cultivate Meta Skills
Cultivating meta competencies requires a combination of self-reflection, practice, and continuous learning. Here are some strategies that can help individuals develop and enhance their meta skills:
- Self-reflection: Take time to reflect on your thoughts, emotions, and actions. This can help you identify areas for improvement and gain greater self-awareness.
- Seeking feedback: Ask for feedback from colleagues, mentors, or supervisors to gain insight into your strengths and weaknesses.
- Embracing challenges: Take on new challenges and opportunities to develop new abilities and expand your knowledge.
- Continuous learning: Invest in your professional development by attending workshops, training sessions, or conferences.
- Experimenting: Try new approaches, techniques, and tools to solve problems and improve your work.
- Collaboration: Work with others to learn from their perspectives and gain new insights into problem-solving and decision-making.
- Mindfulness: Practice mindfulness and stress-reduction techniques to stay focused, calm, and resilient in the face of challenges.
By incorporating these strategies into your daily routine, you can cultivate and enhance your meta skills, enabling you to achieve greater success in your professional pursuits.
Why Are Meta Skills Essential for Freelancers?
Meta competencies are essential for freelancers because they enable them to adapt, grow, and thrive in a rapidly changing and competitive work environment. Freelancers must possess a broad range of abilities and be able to apply them effectively in various situations. Meta skills enable them to do this by providing a foundation for learning, problem-solving, and decision-making. These competencies are not specific to any particular task or project but can be applied across a variety of contexts, making them essential for long-term success.
Furthermore, freelancers often work independently and must manage their time and resources effectively. Meta abilities such as self-awareness, prioritization, and adaptability enable freelancers to manage their workload, communicate effectively with clients, and navigate challenges and opportunities in their work.
Finally, meta skillsenable freelancers to establish a reputation for delivering high-quality work and maintaining strong relationships with clients and colleagues. By developing these talents, freelancers can differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace and build a successful and sustainable career as an independent professional.