And I still use them today when I step out of my comfort zone, e.g when I’m reaching out and negotiating about bigger projects, giving presentations, being on video, learning and applying new things, or publishing my creations.
I always dreamt about having my own business. And I was more afraid of dying without having had that experience than I was about becoming self-employed.
I can always take a step back to where I was if it doesn’t work out. I also never do anything without a back-up plan. When I moved abroad the first time, instead of quitting my job, I managed to get 6 months of unpaid leave.
Accept that discomfort is part of change
Just allowing myself to feel uncertain makes the experience of going where the magic happens thrilling instead of nerve-racking. I take the discomfort as a sign of growth and that I’m doing something important. And the more I do, the bigger my comfort zone becomes.
Expect the unexpected
If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry.
If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.
I nearly cancelled a conference I was organising because I was so afraid of all the things that could go wrong. By asking myself what could ease my worries, I started asking for help, doing my best to prepare everything that I actually could fix, and having plan Bs for various scenarios of things out of my control.
Reading about philosophy also helps.
If I can do that I can do anything!
I have a silly story I think back to whenever I’m facing uncertainty.
I had just moved to Ireland and I had to learn how to drive, but on the left side of the road. To get into the city centre there was a huge roundabout with multiple lanes that I had to get through. After a few driving lessons with my cousin, I tried and succeeded to get through the roundabout successfully without accidents (or fines!). Now I think “If I could do that, I can do anything”.
Make sure you collect references after every assignment, and publish them on your LinkedIn profile. They are nice to look at when feeling low in confidence, and are great to have as social proof.
This helps with confidence building in two ways. On the one hand, it’s rather easy and quick to see progress when doing sports. This strengthens your belief that you can do what you set out to do. And it tends to transfer to other areas, professionally and personally (see: If I can do that, I can do anything). On the other hand, exercise helps you feel better, be stronger and look better, which are all important when you’re dealing with various freelance challenges.
Take the pressure off. When you try something new and it doesn’t work out, that doesn’t mean your life will end. It only means you need to do it better or do something different. At least you tried. I often try new things at events, like when I organised a speed dating event. It was sold out, but it was badly executed. The time was too short and people didn’t move. The next time I organised it, I did it differently based on that feedback.
An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field.
The beginning is always the hardest part.
Take care of your finances
Make sure that you have a buffer and that you don’t depend too much on one client or skill. Desperation doesn’t really add to confidence. Securex can help you make a financial plan and put together an optimised wage package with the correct insurance policies (Free Supplementary Pension for the Self-Employed (VAPZ/FSPSE), guaranteed income, company car, mobility, etc.). See more here
Of course. Freelancing might be lonely but we don’t operate in a vacuum. There are clients to consider. And support to get from coaches, mentors and peers. In part 2 of this article I’ll share how I’ve been influenced by others in and benefited from other people on my journey of building confidence as a freelancer.