What Would Sigmund Freud Do? Advice on Remote Work and Marriage Counseling During The Pandemic


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@michael-brooksMichael Brooks

Founder & CEO of goLance and the author of REMOTE iT!, a new Amazon best seller in Outsourcing.

If you’re thinking about leaving the corporate world and becoming a freelancer, have you considered how that shift might impact your relationship with your wife, husband, or partner?

I’m all for it because I believe that freelancing equals the freedom to work from anywhere, do what you like, and set your own schedule. I could go on and on, but it might be helpful to look at this career change from the perspective of someone who can help you understand why it’s the right move and show you how to explain that to a loved one who needs convincing. So, I thought about what Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, would do in this situation.

Here’s an example of how one scenario would play out between George, a software developer, and his wife Nikita, who is a technical writer. George has been working for the same company for about 5 years, where he develops work productivity software. It’s a steady job with decent pay, but before COVID lockdowns George had to commute a total of 3 hours a day and usually worked more than 10+ hours from office. He still puts in the same working hours, minus the commute. George got passed over again for a promotion, his projects aren’t very exciting, and his latest boss is a micromanager. George is burned out and wants to become a freelancer. Here’s how the conversation about freelancing went and where Sigmund Freud fits in.

George: Nikita, I’m ready for a change. This job is wearing me down and it’s so boring. I want to become a freelance game developer. You know how much I enjoy gaming. I want you to support me in this move.

Nikita: Are you crazy? We’re in the middle of a pandemic. This is no time to like what you’re doing. Just stick with your boring job and be grateful, even if it makes you a bit miserable.

George: I consider myself fortunate to have work, but I’m not happy. Seriously, the best thing that happened to me today, after waiting 30 minutes in line to get into the grocery store, I discovered they finally had toilet paper on the shelves again. I was able to grab the last few rolls on the shelf without a fight because I was six feet away from the closest shopper. Dealing with a dead-end job during this surreal time is really stressing me out.

Nikita: Maybe you should get some counseling. I have an app for that.

The next thing you know, Nikita sets up a Zoom call with a virtual therapist. To her surprise, Sigmund Freud shows up.

George: Hey, you look familiar….your clothes are a bit outdated, but I know I’ve seen you somewhere before.

Freud: I’m all over the Internet – something they invented after my time. So, let’s talk about your feelings and why you contacted me. Are you repressed? Frustrated?

Nikita: I’ll explain. George wants to quit his steady (although boring) job to follow his dream of becoming a freelance software game developer. I think it’s way too risky.

Freud: Hmm…Dreams. I’m so into dreams. I even wrote a book about dreams and the subconscious mind.

George: It’s more like a goal I’ve always had. I never really dreamt about it.

Freud: Okay. So, I don’t know much about the types of jobs that have appeared in the last 80 years, but it’s a worthwhile idea to pursue something that will make you happy. That’s where the idea takes over and you can focus on pleasure. I could go on about that forever, but I won’t.

Nikita: But we also need money and stability. How can he give up that steady paycheck?

George: I’ll do fine. I plan to earn more money and find work through an online freelance marketplace that pays me. I can work on new projects that will be challenging and exciting. I’ll even be able to set my own hours. And there’s no commute because I can do my work remotely from anywhere. That’s not the case with my current job. Once we get through this pandemic, they said I’d have to go back to the office again.

Freud: You’re right. This whole period brings me back to the days before the Spanish Flu hit. I hated schlepping around in a horse and buggy on my way to work. So, not having to commute is a real privilege, not to mention the other benefits you discussed. It actually sounds great to me.

George: Well, Nikita’s not thrilled about the idea.

Freud: Nikita, can I help you explore George’s situation even further so that you can look at this from his perspective?

Nikita: Actually, it’s all starting to make sense. No commute, a flexible schedule, new projects, and the potential to make more money. Maybe I’ll even consider freelancing myself.

George: Wow. That’s a great idea.

Freud: And I didn’t even need to hypnotize her to come up with that conclusion. I would say this has been a very successful session.

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