At the point where I went solo in my work life, one thing was significantly missing. Confidence. I felt like it had all been battered out of me over the last few years, and it resulted in me questioning everything I did, then questioning my questioning, going in loops, not knowing which way was forward and generally not trusting anyone. Something had to change.
And it’s not just me. This seems to be a popular truth that is frequently emerging from conversations with other freelancers as to why they have flown the ‘safety’ of the permanent nest.
So many freelancers and contractors choose to work for themselves in a bid to escape the workplace politics, lack of progression, evils of working under management regimes and endless hours of commuting.
Going solo is not a magical fix for all these things, and 99% of the freelancers I engage with regularly state they get imposter syndrome, sometimes cripplingly so. There is a lot of self-doubt and anxiety in the average freelancer’s bones.
It is working for us. We are working for us. And there is always a bunch of fellow freelancers willing to help pick you up on a bad day, give you a supportive hurrah or share your woes over missed invoices and give sterling advice.
Bizarrely, leaving the comfort of a full-time permanent job to work for myself has actually boosted my confidence. And not just by a little. By a landslide.
This is how.
I have to be assertive (and sometimes cheeky)
I put myself ‘out there’
When I started my business I quickly picked up on business owners who are very much ‘themselves’ in their writing and promotions, and I saw how it was working for them. So I started to be myself instead of a stuffy corporate machine. And it worked! I also started to be myself in meetings. And I have had great feedback for that, with the added bonus that one of my clients remarked that he felt at ease and like he could be himself. Win, win. That partnership is really thriving as a result and it shows in the work.
As a bonus bonus, my tone of voice now finally matches my branding. My brand finally feels like me, and I have the confidence to use it.
Continually reflecting on progress
It takes quite a lot of stepping back and looking at things from a distance to take the personal edge out of it. But by reflecting on the wins and the ways of adapting in future, it gives me the confidence to move forward and keep doing what I am doing.
Publicly acknowledge the successes
So, if I am feeling brave I will give myself a public pat on the back and share my joy. It is usually well received and others will share in your moment. Those that don’t are miserable sprouts that just need to jog on.
Engaging with others in the same position
Realising the successes are my own
If there was ever a confidence booster, this is it for me.
As someone who is crap (and I mean seriously, ridiculously, unbelievably crap) at taking compliments, this is a weird one. But when something has gone right…I have had to start acknowledging that I did that. It was my work. No-one else did it. No-one else can take credit. There is no middle management to take the compliment as their own or pass on a half-hearted thanks.
I need to stop making excuses for why it was good. Why I did my job well. Why it was wise to hire me.
Okay so I have to accept the mistakes too, but that I am more comfortable with.
(Bloody Nora, just suck up the compliment and run with it woman).
There must be many more things helping my confidence and though I am not exactly shouting from the rafters confident, I have come a long way in the last year. Imposter syndrome particularly is a popular beast that needs to be tamed.
If you have any sure-fire ways that you slay the imposter beast or improve your confidence please do comment. I’d love to know what has worked for you.
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