Are you more afraid of failing or succeeding as a freelancer?
It’s normal to be afraid of failure, but for some of us the fear of success is equally or more paralyzing. Why? Because it means we should change.
And change is scary too.
But change is necessary for success. And you’re probably reading Leaving Work Behind for motivation to succeed. Either to leave your current day job or to continue building your freelance business – maybe it’s both!
I coach a fair amount of newbie freelancers and I would wager that fear (of both failing and succeeding) ranks at the top of the list of what holds people back from trying. And from even putting themselves out there in the first place.
Is that you too? If so, here are five ways to punch fear in the face and increase your odds of succeeding long-term in your freelance business.
1. Assess the Risk
Ask yourself this question.
What’s the worst that can happen?
Seriously think about it and play the answer out in your head. I once read a book that suggested to play it out like a movie reel. Try to envision exactly what you think the worst case scenario outcome is and feel it for a moment.
Is it really as bad as you thought? Let’s say that you’re a new freelancer (writer or otherwise, it doesn’t matter) and you’re afraid of pitching for work. You don’t feel quite qualified or experienced enough, or insecure for another reason.
What’s the worst that can happen if you put yourself out there and start pitching for work? In my experience, the worst thing that happens is someone tells you, “No thanks” or doesn’t respond at all to your pitch.
If you played it forward, you might think that someone is going to tell you to “F-off,” that you’ll somehow get blacklisted from the internet at large or something else as ridiculous. But what are the odds of that actually happening? And how much control does any one person really have?
2. Publicly Declare What You Want to Accomplish
I publish my income reports for a few reasons. One is that I learned a ton from reading other people’s. Another is that it allows me to be transparent in my online business practices. And lastly, it holds me publicly accountable to my goals.
You don’t have to publish an income report or your own monthly goals to your blog, but sharing them in a Facebook group or via another social media platform can be equally as powerful.
Shoot, just writing them down and placing them somewhere visible is extremely helpful. Add your monthly goal to your computer as your screensaver, pin it to the corkboard above your desk or tape it to the fridge. Do what you have to do to declare it and make it so you can see it often.
3. Ask for Help
Surrounding yourself with like-minded people and/or a support system is extremely helpful. It can be in the form of accountability partners, a mastermind, your spouse (or another family member) or a coach.
The point is, you need other people that you can share your goals with, your doubts/fears and celebrate your successes with you. Freelancing is tough to do on your own. And not as much fun, frankly!
I’ve been in two different mastermind groups for going on a year and have worked with my coach for about the same amount of time. I cringe to think about what my business would look like if I didn’t have these folks to lean on, bounce ideas off of or celebrate with.
An added bonus is that these people can help you to play it forward and assess your risk as mentioned above. I just did this last week with my girl Ariel, when we commiserated over a joint fear of the other shoe dropping, i.e. what if our businesses completely stalled without warning? You see, I’m not exempt from fear either!
4. Give Yourself a Deadline
We all work better with a deadline or specific timeline in place to get something done. I’ve mentioned before that with client work I have a deadline, but I also self-impose my own deadline a few days earlier (or more) to prevent any hiccups (aka life) that might get in the way.
I’ve also started using Trello to pre-plan my weeks and assign tasks for my business out over the course of each day. Sometimes I don’t feel like doing a certain task, but because I’ve assigned a deadline to it, my inner competitor comes out and challenges me to get it done before the day is over. This helps me to get more done and prevents me from pushing things back until the next day or week.
5. Just Do It!
Let’s face it, Nike said it best. You have to take action at some point, even if you’re scared.
In my book taking action is the number one best way to combat fear. It’s like pulling off a bandaid, you get it over with quick and in hindsight the fear was larger than the actual pain. In fact, it was no big deal.
And by doing something the first time, you now have experience with it. Even if it didn’t go as well as you wanted, it likely didn’t go as badly as you thought it could. And now you know what to change to make it go better next time.
And if it went better than imagined? You now have a positive experience to build from and a little extra motivation to try again. Take advantage of that and do it again right away.
Fear sucks. Instead of letting either fear of success or failure stand in your way, own it and punch it in the face by moving forward anyway.
Assess your risk by asking yourself “What’s the worst that can really happen?” Get some extra accountability by announcing your goals publicly and by surrounding yourself with support.
Lastly, give yourself a deadline and just do it. It might go better than you ever imagined. And even if it’s a big flop, it’s better than wondering “What if?”
What’s your best strategy for combatting fear as a freelancer? Let us know in the comments!