How Masterminds made me ultra-productive as a freelancer

By Maria Murnikov

I always knew that freelancing was my path. To work anywhere, to be my own boss - that was the ultimate goal.

What more could you ask for? Sipping my coffee on the sunny balcony while I effortlessly fly through my projects, completely relaxed. In the afternoon I go to yoga, or take a walk in the park. If I need a vacation? Hey, why not take a trip to the Maldives?

Alas, the reality is very different. Instead of a sunny balcony, I have to get used to rain and days by myself in my home office. Suddenly I had to take care of customer acquisition,sales and taxes. The To Do's piled up day by day, just like my dishes and my stress levels. I was getting all worked up and all around me was even more chaos.

Stuck on the hamster wheel

I was everything but relaxed. I noticed how my idea of this perfect life was fading away and instead I was drowning in a thousand tasks. I became lonely and increasingly frustrated.

And then I started to hear voices. The gremlins. The ones that aren't really nice to you.

"Is self-employment really for you?" "Do you even have what it takes?" "You're not gonna be able to do it anyway." "You're not in control of your life at all."

Next thing I knew, the voices were getting louder. It was like the trading floor, with everyone trying to scream louder than anyone else. And me? I was paralyzed. I stood there frozen. I was so overwhelmed and my fear grew with each passing day, I did nothing.

All my ideas, my big dreams, my goals, my expectations. They were gone with the wind. Lost in the spinning hamster wheel.

I couldn’t let this continue. I knew that I had to find support and that something in my life had to change tremendously. I had to turn everything upside down.

And I couldn't do it alone.

Masterminds - my recipe for success

So I took that dreaded step off the hamster wheel, and I went out to find that much-needed support. That’s when I found Masterminds - a community of individuals who meet regularly online to support each other, to give advice and help, to achieve goals and learn more about productivity.

It was exactly what I needed at that point in my business. I secretly hoped that this would help silence all those voices too...

We were assigned a mastermind mentor who guided us through a series of exercises. First up was some self-discovery. I had to understand how I am in order to understand my personality. This helped me to clear out the clutter and the noise so I could double down on what my ideas are and where I wanted to go.

This makes sense, because only when we know our drivers can we find our direction and follow it. Otherwise, we get pulled in all directions all the time. That’s how I’d felt before this.

Through the assignments, I got to know myself and my needs so much better.

Then we talked about the appropriate way of working. Now, this was new to me. I’d never really thought that there was an appropriate and an inappropriate method before - I just thought I am the way I am and that’s how I work.

But by understanding how we tick, we were able to adapt our way of working better. Our mentor kept teaching us valuable methods to work more productively and efficiently so that we gained more and more input and were able to implement it ourselves effectively in our everyday life.

And most importantly, together we set our goals and we talked about them.

This gave me the opportunity to stay on track at all times and also to exchange ideas and get help immediately whenever there was a problem.

I got to know great freelancers from all around the world, and the sense of group cohesion and community was exactly what I had been looking for. I felt so supported.

Masterminds are a place where I could openly address my worries and problems without fear of judgment or criticism.

My mastermind group always took the time to analyze my problem in detail and help me identify the best solutions and strategies. I also got to help others and I found that was really validating.

The exchange was so valuable because it allowed me to connect with other freelancers, get advice and feedback for my business and finally finally get rid of my self doubt and my fears. I understood that everyone has these inner gremlins: wow, what a realization: So I wasn't crazy after all. Or…. Everyone was! It was so comforting to know I wasn’t alone, and that everyone feels like this sometimes.

And after that, I started to realize how organized and structured my everyday life had become as a result of participating in the group. I became so much more disciplined because I had to stay accountable not just to myself, but now also to the mastermind group. This helped me to grow a lot.

Make your world as you like it

One of the most beautiful but subtle outcomes I’ve found with the Mastermind is how much more grounded and relaxed I feel. My goals feel sharper, and I have clarity on what I need to focus on to achieve them, and not having to worry about everything else has just given me a sense of ease and spaciousness.

Without the mental load of worry or fear, now I have more energy to be stronger, faster and fitter in my business. My productivity went through the roof.

And now? I’m sitting in the sun on the balcony, sipping my coffee and working on my projects - completely relaxed.

I’m not in the Maldives, but hey. Now I know that’s not what I need to be successful as a freelancer. And besides, who knows what else is coming my way that I hadn’t yet dreamed of?

That’s exactly why I love my freelancing path.


Since completing her studies in media, communication and afterwards screenwriting at the film school DFFB, Maria has been working as a freelance writer, copywriter & creative strategist in Berlin. She writes for magazines, companies and film. (Such as Constantin Film, ZDF, Refinery29) Because she loves the dynamic of entrepreneurship she started running Masterminds and does Business Mentoring for freelancers.

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