The enemy of every freelancer: doubt

It’s an unfortunately true, but sad fact, that negative thoughts are easier to latch onto than positive throughts are. If you’re anything like me, negative self-talk is your constant companion. (By the way, if you’re interested, I recently came across an interesting article on Huffington Post about ways to get rid of negative self-talk. It’s worth a look as they give very helpful tips on how to stay mentally sane in the face of emotional turmoil.) As freelancers and entrepreneurs, anyone who expresses – or so we might think – negativity about our businesses, all our inner demons flare up and we end up sitting on the couch, immmobilised because we can’t face doing anything else.

I’ll give you an example of what happened to me a couple of days ago and how an innocent comment from someone prompted my inner self-critic to go into a feeding frenzy on my carefully cultivated mental p0ositive garden.

Obtaining my LLB has – for a number of years – been a project that I have been doggedly pursuing. It was almost withiin my grasp – I was going to finish by the end of this year – however as I failed two subjects last semester, my plans have been pushed out to next year. For the past 18 months, I haven’t been pursuing my freelance life as doggedly as i should have been doing as a good deal of my time is being spent on my studies.

This person – let’s call her Jane – was questioning me on how long I would still be busy with my degree and when i would be returning to the working world. Jane said a lot of other things – some of which were very positive – but all I heard was “when are you returning to the working world.” It made me doubt that pursuing my freelance career as an editor and writer – and adding in a legal aspect to this – wasn’t a worthy way to make a living. Worse still, my negative critic was saying to me that Jane was actually telling me that I should be going into the ‘real’ working world – i.e. find a job working for someone else.

Now, if I’d taken the time to quieten my inner negative self-talk voice, and actually taken the time to listen to Jane properly, I would have actually seen that she was just asking me for infporamtion. She wasn’t offering her own opinion or criticising me. She was just looking for facts.

Now, if I’d listened to my self-talk, and took it on board with all the doubt that comes with it, I would have thrown in the towel on my freelance and solopreneur dreams and have started the job hunt. However, because I decided to take a step back and actually listen to what Jane was saying, I didn’t do this. and I’m still enjoying the life of being my own boss.

So my adivce to all you freelancers and entrepreneurs – both established and budding – take the time to listen to what people are actually telling you. Because chances are very good that what you hear them saying is very different to what they are actually saying.