As a freelancer, work can take time coming in. You need to prove yourself over and over to prospects. On top of that, accolades can be few and far between.
This life can lead to a crisis in confidence and imposter syndrome moments. As someone recently posted in a freelance Facebook group:
I’m struggling right now to find new work. My contracts are almost up. I feel like a lousy, no good, freelancer. Like no one wants to hire me. Working alone is hard sometimes. I don’t get to talk to anyone or bounce ideas off of others. — How do you overcome this? How do you shift out of feeling like the crappiest, sorriest freelancer?
Many of us have these crises of confidence periodically. It’s important to realize that this is self-talk and does not reflect your true capabilities or experience. The key is to separate yourself from these thoughts as quickly as humanly possible. Here are my strategies:
Get out! Nothing interrupts a rampant bout of imposter syndrome like getting away from work and doing something engaging with family or friends. Imposter syndrome usually springs from a lack of perspective, which is addressed by putting your focus someplace else. Go do something you love or something you’re really good at, to get you out of that groove
Dip into the “good stuff” folder – any freelancer worth their salt has a “good stuff” folder – a folder of emails where clients have said nice things about you and/or your work. Keep that handy for the difficult moments to remind yourself that you know what you’re doing.
Get some community – time to call up your former colleagues, bosses and work friends and have a chat. Online groups can be helpful. Talking to people about this issue, and knowing that they experience the same challenges, is very therapeutic.
Make something happen – if you’re struggling with client work – make something else happen. Create content or arrange to speak somewhere. Mentor people junior to you. Keep yourself moving forward without relying on others to do it for you.
Learn something – now is the time to work on skills mastery, training and education. Remembering how competent you are can be very empowering.
Imposter syndrome affects most of us at some point, but you need to be able to re-set yourself from these setbacks without relying on the validation of clients or external wins to do it for you. People (read: prospects) can sense that tentative and negative energy from a mile away. Taking yourself out of the situation and remembering the many other times you have overcome challenges can help you gain some much-needed perspective.
Marie Forleo admitted in a vlog that even after seventeen years, she continues to get nervous before she does a corporate coaching session. Of course, her imposter syndrome is on paid business trips to Fiji, but hey. If she continues to struggle, the rest of will be for the long haul as well. Remembering that it’s normal and does not actually reflect on your abilities is the key to helping you get through it.
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