Freelancing Optimism, a Little-Known Key to Success?

Is your glass half-full or half empty?

Your answer to that age-old question to determine whether you are an optimist or a pessimist may be more important than you think. It may actually determine how successful your freelancing business is.

It seems that attitude really can determine success.

Under30CEO blog recently shared the story of Michael Austin Jacobs, who used his positive attitude as a springboard to success (along with a lot of hard work).

There are many other stories of freelancers and entrepreneurs who overcame unimaginable odds to succeed.

As a freelancer, however, it can be easy to fall into the trap of negativity.

First of all, there is a lot of negativity around us in the news and in social media. And of course, freelancing can be pretty stressful.

In this post, I’ll discuss some of the reasons why freelancing optimism may be the little known key to business success. I’ll also provide some tips on how to improve your own attitude.

Why an Optimistic Attitude Can Lead to Success

If you think about it, it only makes sense that optimism is a good attitude for a freelancing business owner.

An optimistic freelancer keeps trying to make the freelancing business work while a more pessimistic freelancer quits when things become difficult. For an optimist, quitting is not an option.

Are you still not convinced of the importance of a good attitude?

A study of new business hires showed that 89% of the failures were due to attitude problems, from Dan Schawbel’s 2012 Forbes interview with Mark Murphy. A positive attitude really can pay off in business.

Here are some of the traits of optimists that can lead to freelancing business success:

  • Ability to learn from failure. Failure is a good teacher. An optimist is one who looks for the lesson in every downturn. They see opportunities where others see only roadblocks.
  • Happiness is contagious. People are drawn to enthusiastic, upbeat people. If you’re an optimist, you’ll find it easier to attract prospects and clients. Think about it. Who do you prefer to be around? Positive people who lift you up, or negative people who drag you down?
  • Focus on the end game. Optimists are by nature big picture people. They don’t get caught up in the process. Instead, they keep moving towards the goal. It’s the ability to not lose sight of their vision that helps them to achieve.
  • Optimism sparks creativity. Unfortunately, there’s a myth that creativity springs from misery. However, it’s not the misery that leads to creativity, but the hope that people retain despite miserable circumstances that truly leads to creativity.

If you’re freelancing, take a minute to assess your own attitude. Are you generally optimistic about your future prospects, or you tend to dwell on the negative?

How to Improve Your Attitude

Maybe you’re going through a downturn right now. Maybe your attitude could be better.

Is there anything you can do about it?

Well, assuming that you don’t need professional help, there are a few steps that you can take that will help you to become more positive:

  • Learn to be thankful. Being appreciative has a way of combating negativity. Look for several things each day that you are grateful for.
  • Put it in perspective. Many setbacks are minor and temporary. Although things may seem bad now, ask yourself if this will make a difference a few months or years from now.
  • Celebrate your small victories. Even little wins count. Don’t discount your small victories. Give yourself credit for each of your little successes.
  • Focus on your vision. Keep your eyes on your ultimate goal. Successful freelancers are those who never give up on their dreams.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. You become like your friends. To stay positive and upbeat, seek out friendships with upbeat people.
  • Read motivational material. Allow yourself to become inspired by the success of others. Read encouraging stories and articles.

Most of the time, these simple tips will help you find a more positive attitude. Of course, if none of this works there’s also no shame in seeking help from a professional counselor.

Your Turn

Have you overcome great obstacles to achieve your freelancing success? If so, we’d like to be inspired by your story.

Tell us how you did it in the comments.

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  1. says

    I’ve been quite a negative person. The problem with this is that, when I decide to try and change this aspect of myself, I get all negative about it and never get anywhere. It’s a true catch-22 situation. Do you have any advice for people like me who are looking to take that first step in the right direction? Apart from all the good stuff you mentioned in the article, of course.


  2. says

    Charlie Livingston,

    Thanks for your comment. I do think some people have more of a negative bent than others naturally. And of course, there are clinical illnesses that could contribute to making one negative. If someone is really struggling, a health professional should be able to help.

    At the same time, I think it’s possible to develop a habit of positive thinking if there’s no underlying health-related cause.

    Here’s an idea. This may work for you. When you catch yourself thinking or saying something negative, try to stop yourself. You might even want to have a few stock ideas to replace the negativity–like every time you start to think “I’m no good at what I do,” tell yourself instead “I’m actually much better than I give myself credit for.” Do this every time you catch yourself being negative.

    Good luck to you!

  3. Elbows says

    Glass half empty people are the ones I want on my team. What’s wrong with it? How can we make it better? The half full types are complacent or unaware. Just saying if you want to have the best whatever, make sure there’s a proper amount of opposition to the yes men.

  4. says


    I see what you’re saying, but I think the people you are describing are actually glass half-full people.

    If they were half-empty, they would say we can’t possibly make it better and then give up. Because they’re half-full, they’re willing to come up with solutions.

    At least that’s my take. :)

  5. says

    Negativity is such an easy space to fall into and such a hard one to dig out from. Finding daily gratitude has been a very helpful thing for me — even if, on bad days, all I can come up with is “I’m grateful that I’m alive.” I’ve also started trying to embrace the gray areas, rather than view every professional encounter as black or white, success or failure. Hopefully Charlie and others will feel comforted to know that making very small changes in the way we think (Laura, your advice is great) will truly transform our outlook with time. Hang in there, everyone!

  6. says

    Sarah Jackson,


    It’s definitely important to seek professional help when it’s needed. I mentioned it above and I’ll say it again. Professionals can sometimes help and there may be a medical cause for the way someone is feeling.

  7. says

    I don’t think I would’v gotten far as a freelance writer if I remained negative all the time. I think one of the most important things that I got from being optimistic was the ability learn from failure. Being positive helped me see rejections and failures as learning experiences instead.

    I’m not a natural optimist, so staying glass half-full took a lot of practice for me (it still does, actually). Reading blogs like Freelance Folder, Make a Living Writing, Freelance Switch, and the like definitely helps a lot. :)


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