Freelancing can be empowering, exciting and freeing. But it can also deal you with the odd whammy that leaves you feeling unconfident and a bit…well, a bit rubbish. It could be criticism from a client, a wobble when presenting something or a contract coming to an unexpected end. For me, a few weeks ago, it was a radio interview. I babbled, got my facts mixed up and came off the call wanting to faceplant a big slice of chocolate cake/cry. Thankfully it was a pre-recording, and I never tuned in to see if they used it, but it sent me into a bit of a flap and a confidence dip.
So, I turned to the Freelance Lifestylers Facebook group. And they gave me a whole bundle of excellent advice and tips for what they do when they need to bounce back after a freelancing confidence bash.
- Penny Golightly, one of my favourite frugal living bloggers, said “Don’t try to immediately flip into positive mode – let it out, have a cry, be sad, be angry, or whatever else you need. Give yourself a set amount of time to feel bad if you like”
- Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence from Honey Bee Copywriting advised “To turn a negative into a positive, I usually find that a bad experience makes me feel a little more confident because even if it was bad, I didn’t die and ask myself ‘In a year, will this matter?’. The answer is usually ‘no’ because I’ll be doing something else really brave and the world’s focus will be on someone else”
- Kathryn Hall, introvert expert at The Business Of Introverts, shared “Whenever things go wrong the absolute first thing I do is step back from work and have some ‘me’ time. I’ll do a bit of moping but generally I try and do something non-work related that will make me feel good and help to clear my thoughts. I love being out in the countryside and I’m a total introvert so for me that means going for a long hike in the fresh air on my own which always makes me feel better. I’m also a big fan of practicing gratitude and writing down my achievements to date can be helpful if my confidence has taken a knock. Looking forward to reading your post!”
- Emily Jayne Phillips, my Birmingham-based stylist buddy, shared something her fiancé said “Just remember how many ‘bad days’ and set backs there were when you were in your ‘proper job’ (for me, I regularly used to have a cry when I got home and feel constantly frustrated!) compared to now. Everyone has set backs in our professional lives, and we’re lucky to be able to take more control of our careers as freelancers”
- Megan Kerr, freelancer writer, also agreed about taking time out to deal with the emotional side “Really agree with taking some time to have the feels first, negative emotion gets a bad rep but we have to be allowed to feel stuff to be emotionally balanced.”
- Jo Shock, the brilliant VA I work with, reminded me about perspective “even if it all seemed like waffle to you, that’s probably through the filter of your own expectations and understanding.”
I completely agree with all the above. You have to take time to deal with the emotions, and if you’re anything like me, you get a big burst of adrenaline in that sort of situation which can power you to do all sorts of stuff. Er, let’s just say my office got a big declutter that day. But getting out of the house for a run, walk or simply to get away from your laptop for a bit will help. I also find chatting it out with other freelancers or loved ones helps, as does revisiting some previous success stories. If you don’t already, keep a little folder in your email account or Dropbox/Google Drive of your top moments as a freelancer. If you’re reflective, you may also find writing it all down helps to brain dump it out of your head and onto paper.
And I promise, if you’re feeling rubbish right now, that feeling will list. Probably in a matter of hours!
One final thing to add. Often, situations like this are there to highlight an area you can improve on. For me, it’s improving my knowledge of maternity pay for freelancers. For others, it might be developing a regular pitching habit to make sure you’re never without work, taking the emotion out of client feedback and seeing the learning opportunity, or simply understanding what situations/clients/decisions are not suited to you and your business. Every negative situation is a learning opportunity.
Have you had a freelancing setback? How do you deal with these situations?