Is Fear Stopping You From Being Successful?

Scary CrowFear is a powerful obstacle to freelancing success.

Fear can keep you from starting your freelancing business. Fear can keep you from expanding your freelancing business. Fear can also keep you from adequately promoting your freelancing business.

As an example of fear, here is a story from my childhood:

I grew up in a house with a basement. (Here in the south where I live now, most houses don’t have basements.) Despite the fact that the basement was finished with a fireplace and my parents had even put a ping pong table down there for us kids, for several years I refused to go into the basement.
I didn’t go into the basement because I was afraid. The furnace made loud noises when it turned off and on. The stairs creaked when you walked on them. To my seven-year old mind, this was enough to convince me that the basement was haunted.

The truth is that when I was a kid I missed out on some really good times because of my fear.

As an adult, fear also delayed the start of my freelancing career. Despite the fact that I had highly marketable skills and peers even commented that I had the self-discipline and business savvy that made me well suited to self-employment, I was afraid to get started.

My fears very nearly caused me to miss a great freelancing career.

Fear is a very real obstacle for freelancers. For most of us, fear has a mental and a physical component. With some extra effort and the right strategy, most of us can also overcome fear of success.

The Mental Components of Fear

The mental components of fear include those negative thoughts that you could also refer to as “worries.” Here are some common worries of freelancers:

  • I am not good enough at what I do to become a freelancer.
  • No one will ever hire me.
  • Clients will hire me, but they won’t like my work.
  • I will fall prey to a freelancing scam.
  • I will have trouble collecting my pay.
  • I won’t earn enough from freelancing to meet my expenses.

If some of those sound familiar, you can probably add your own fears to the list.

The Physical Components of Fear

If you dwell too long or too often on the mental components of fear, then you may also experience some of the physical components of fear.

The first response to fear may be an increased heartbeat, followed by a tightening of your muscles when you think about the topic that you are afraid of. If you continue to dwell on your fear, you may find yourself with any (or all) of the following physical symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Muscular aches and pains
  • Sleeplessness
  • Dizziness
  • Depression

If you don’t get a grip on your fear, the stress may even weaken your immune system. If this happens, you may find yourself overly susceptible to illness.

Overcoming Fear

In most cases, you can overcome your fears by following a few simple strategies:

  • Consider how you would advise someone else. Most people are more realistic with others than they are with themselves. What would you tell someone else to do if they were in your situation? Chances are that you can trust your instincts for advising another person in your situation.
  • Make a “Plan B.” Having a backup plan can be a great source of comfort, even if you never have to use it. For a freelancer, a backup plan could mean many things. Your “Plan B” could be: savings in the bank, a skill that you aren’t using currently (but could use if needed), or even a job offer that you could fall back on.
  • Realize the worse case scenario isn’t really so bad. It can be helpful to face your biggest fear directly. For example: what if a client doesn’t like your work? The worst that could happen is that you would simply move on and find a client who does appreciate what you do.
  • Remember past successes. It’s a good idea to keep a list of past successes – particularly those successes where you faced and overcame a difficult obstacle. When you doubt your abilities, remind yourself of these past successes.

(Note: In a few instances, you may need professional help to overcome your fear. In particular, you may need professional help if your fear is keeping you from performing day-to-day tasks. If you find yourself in this situation, get the help that you need as soon as possible so that you can return to your full physical and mental health.)

Share Your Thoughts On Fear and Freelancing

Has fear affected your freelancing career? If so, how did you overcome it?

Do you have any suggestions to help new freelancers overcome their fears?

Share your thoughts in the comments.