Lack of self-confidence is one of the biggest silent killers of freelance writing careers. As an independent professional, you have to believe in what you’re doing and what you’re going after.
But when things go wrong, how can you take yourself from self-doubt to self-confidence? How can you manufacture that experience? How can you turn things around quickly?
Even with his success, Ed still struggles with self-doubt at times. And in this podcast, he shares his own tips and ideas for getting out of a funk and developing stronger self-confidence.
The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes or on Stitcher to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.
#1: You DON’T have to be an amazing writer or earn a six-figure income to feel confident
No matter where you are in your journey (new or experienced), you don’t have to be the very best writer to feel confident. Successful writers are still regular people. It’s true! The gurus that Ed has always looked up to (Slaunwhite, Graham, Bowerman, Bly, Stelzner)—all are regular guys.
Ed experiences self-doubt all the time. And these gurus are probably not immune to it as well.
If you wait until you feel ready and self-confident and fearless, you’ll never take action. You get more confident by acting, even when you’re not 100% ready or 100% sure. That’s when self-growth happens. You don’t get it if you don’t take action.
#2: Find the strengths in your supposed “weaknesses”
We look at successful writers and think we have to be just like them to achieve success. But you can’t duplicate their formula. This isn’t a cake recipe. They’re successful because they’re true to who they are.
You don’t need a certain type of personality, schooling or background.
You can borrow ideas. Copy and modify things. But you can’t recreate what someone else has done. You need to figure out what works for YOU.
Make an inventory of your strengths. These don’t have to be writing related. They can be about your career background, experience or other skills.
Look for clues to who you are. What gets you excited? Then align your business strategy to that.
#3: Be like Forrest Gump
Gump wasn’t “intelligent” enough to know what’s possible and what’s not possible.
Sometimes we “know” too much. That knowledge hurts us. We think we know what’s possible and not possible. But we need to be more like Forrest Gump.
Often, when Ed doesn’t achieve a goal, it’s because he “knows” too much. He thinks, “I could fail. Things could go badly.” So he holds back or doesn’t take action.
Instead, bring back your childlike nature. Forget what everyone else says. Just do it.
#4: What would Tony do?
Think about someone you admire. Someone who could overcome the fears and hesitations you have today. Someone who could handle the challenge you’re facing.
Visualize what they would do or what they would tell you to do.
Ed thinks of Tony Robbins. “What would Tony do in this situation? What would he advise me to do if he were here, sitting next to me?” And the answers come to him. It gives him courage and clarity.
Some people pray to God, Saints or deceased family members. Ask for help in any way that’s right for you. Have that imaginary conversation and see these “helpers” giving you the answers you need.
#5: See yourself already there
Visualize yourself breaking through fears or doubts. See yourself achieving what you set out to achieve. Your subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between something you imagine and something you experience. This has been proven scientifically. So anything is possible.
This can be hard to do when your mind is racing, but two to five minutes is all it takes. You don’t need an hour. Really try to feel it. Ed does it in the early-morning quiet. He gets centered, which sets the tone for the day.
Or find some songs that will disrupt any negative train of thought. Play them loud! Ed likes John Meyer’s “Bigger than my Body” because it instantly triggers high self-confidence the moment he hears it (and it brings back memories of when the song first came out and he was trying to get his writing business off the ground).
#6: Get some quick wins!
Ed picked this up from a software client. They made “quick wins” a central part of their business strategy.
If you’re going after something big, you need a quick win to get over the inevitable bumps in the road. You need fuel to push you through the hard parts and avert negative downward spirals. Bigger goals can overwhelm us if we’re struggling. Small, quick wins are more attainable and help build self-confidence and drive.
Weight-loss programs understand the power of quick wins. That’s why they focus on the first 10 pounds. They know if you lose the first 10 pounds quickly, you’ll stick with the program.
Example: you’re just getting started as a business writer, and you have big goals. Start with a goal of landing any (paying) gig as soon as possible. This will prove to you that you’re moving in the right direction.
Ed’s first few clients and gigs were NOT big or prestigious. But those wins gave him the motivation to keep going.
#7: Accept that your victories may NOT materialize exactly the way you envisioned them
When Ed started, he thought he’d be writing lead generation copy or sales copy.
Didn’t happen that way. He’d pitch clients on these projects, and they’d say, “That sounds great, but we actually really need help with this…” usually a white paper or case study. Soon, that was all he was writing.
Was this work taking him away from what was “supposed” to happen? He liked the work, liked the clients and was getting paid a lot of money. What’s wrong with that?
Don’t get hung up on thinking things have to happen a certain way. Let a force bigger than you figure it out. Instead, focus on the end result. And this is true not just of your career but also your life.
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Till next time,