Mindset Busters That Make Freelancers Fail

Mind-set Busters That Make Freelancers FailOne of the first things I learned as a freelancer was the importance of mindset.

I study successful people and I’ve noticed a few things. Many of them are talented, but some of them are average, at best. Neither do they have mind-blowing academic achievements. Some of them aren’t even good looking.

And yet, they attract hordes of loyal “fans.” They seem to beguile clients and hypnotize them into opening their wallets to pay their sky-high rates.

What sets “them” apart from struggling freelancers?

I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the most important ingredients to success in freelancing–in life–is mindset.

Mindset is the way you think about yourself, others, and the world around you.

Often, we’re unaware of these thoughts. Yet they play in our minds every minute of every day and affect the decisions we make and how we behave.

Below, I’ve listed a few negative mindsets that could be standing between you and your freelancing success. What I present below are practical ways in which you may be sabotaging your own success. Read on.

“I’m Not Good Enough”

We freelancers like to put ourselves down for various reasons. We think we ought to have that degree or certification. We ought to have a long list of impressive clients, or more years of experience behind us. Whatever it is, there’s always SOMETHING that keeps us from being good enough.

This mindset is destructive, because it keeps you from trying anyway and finding what you are good at. It keeps you from stretching, and therefore reaching, beyond what you’re already capable of. Instead, you stick to projects you know you can accomplish with minimal chances of failure. While this keeps you safe, it also keeps you from growing.

Realize that you don’t have to be the best at what you do. You only have to be good, very good. And that’s something you can always work for.

“Success Is for the Lucky Ones, Not Me”

The problem with thinking like this is it tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Studies have shown we tend to act the way we believe ourselves to be. When schoolchildren were told they were special and smart, they performed better in school than their peers who had the same intelligence but didn’t receive the same “programming.”

Don’t program yourself to be a failure. When you see a successful freelancer and jealousy starts to rear its ugly head, try thinking instead, “What can I learn from this person that would make me successful too?”

“Money is the Root of All Evil”

Something got lost in translation here. The Bible, which is where most people think the quote is from, does not say this at all! What it does say is, “For the love of money is the root of all evils.” Having money does not condemn you.

Loving money can make you a greedy, selfish, shallow person. But simply having money means that money can be used for both bad or good purposes. With money, you can give other people jobs, support charities, and help your family and friends.

“I Can’t Succeed Without Giving Up What I Love”

Granted, you do have to make sacrifices to succeed. I mean, is it realistic to believe you can run a successful freelancing business while playing Angry Birds all day? But that doesn’t mean you need to give up your love life, or have your children adopted by relatives, either.

The problem arises when you’re not clear on what your values are. Obviously, value systems are personal and yours will look very different from mine. Maybe money is more important to you than family. Or maybe you only want enough money so you can go backpacking through Europe two months out of every year. As long as you’re clear on what you cherish in life, then you’ll have a compass to help you decide how to use your time, energy and talents.

“It’s Not My Fault”

Are you still blaming your parents because they didn’t pay for art school? Or that overachiever at your last corporate job who outshone you and caused you to get laid off? Or the president and whoever else is responsible for this stinkin’ economy?

Well, guess what? Those things are beyond your control, and no amount of whining or hating will get you anywhere.

Focusing on who’s to blame for your lot in life keeps you from taking charge of your life and doing what is within your control. What a waste of time and energy! Instead, you could be focusing on sharpening your skills, finding good prospects, and rocking your clients’ socks off.

If anyone has ever done you wrong, forgive and move on.

The Power of a Positive Mindset

I, for one, believe it’s impossible and downright unnatural to be positive all the time. Some situations may call for swear words, slamming doors and maybe even some foot stomping. I have my own share of bad days, getting up on the wrong side of the bed, and what seems like plain bad luck.

In general, a positive outlook, one that welcomes hope, is good for you. It gives you the confidence and courage to take risks and try new things. It infuses you with a certain energy, which other people pick up on, like a sweet perfume. They sense your enthusiasm and are attracted to you.

A positive mindset also fuels you to persist even in the face of failure or challenges. Believe you me, there will be plenty of setbacks. Some will be enough to make you want to quit. But a positive mindset will keep you from quitting when you’re on the brink of success.

Do You Have the Mindset to Succeed in Freelancing?

Successful freelancing takes more than talent, hard work, marketing savvy, and business know-how.

It also takes a certain way of thinking: an unshakable belief in yourself and your dreams.

Do you have It?

Or are you still struggling to overcome the mindset busters that are keeping you from succeeding? Tell us about your mindset challenges or success stories. We’d love to hear from you!

Image by Rosemary McKevitt


  1. says

    Great post, Lexi!! I fully believe in the power of a positive mindset. When I first started freelancing, when I encountered a setback, I would complain about it to everyone in my circle. But the more you talk about a negative experience, the longer it stays with you. You start to truly believe all the negativity. Now when something goes wrong, I’ll choose one or two people to vent to and then learn from the mistake and move on. It’s been much more effective for me!

  2. says

    Like they say, it’s all in the mind. Yet there are times when it seems as though the entire world is against you; nothing is turning out right and it’s difficult to maintain a steady flow of clients.

    A positive mindset does work wonders for entrepreneurs and freelancers. I find that exercising clears the mind and pumps feel-good vibes. It energizes the body to take on whatever’s in store for the rest of the day.

    If anything, small business owners are a group of people who really need a positive mindset because they are juggling so many things at one go, often single-handedly. I’m a copywriter and I write a blog on branding and advertising tips for small business owners because quite simply, knowledge is meant to be spread.

    branding and advertising tips for small business owners

  3. says

    I and I’m sure many other people wouldn’t have had the confidence to strike out on our own unless we had a positive mindset from the outset.

    I think it’s the first 6 months to a year which can change that for some people, they realise how little they know about all the periforal jobs, like doing the accounts and selling, once you get past this stage and have a basic understanding of other concepts of business you can continue to grow your company and keep that mental mindset.

  4. says

    Challenging post Lexi. I posted on my Twitter feed last evening that I had a “jacked-up mindset” all day. I’m convinced that the #1 success factor is “mindset.” Skill can be learned. Talent can be nurtured. “Mindset” is a life-long…moment to moment challenge. Thanks for providing some “sign-posts” to help.

  5. says

    Just a bit about me before my comment…

    I grew up with not much encouragement, money or oppurtunties.

    I failed at a lot if things until I realized that is one person can do something, then another person can do it too! Simple and beautiful.

    As I grew up I shattered the chains that held me back by realizing that I do have chains! As I went through life I looked for mindsets, habits, and thoughts that were holding me back, most of the time just by uncovering those hidden chains I was set free and I excelled.

    Just a few months ago I was in a sort of rut. I do excellent work but didn’t get the jobs I was sure I would get. Things changed in a huge way for when I finally “told off” a close relative. This person kept dropping tiny seeds of distruction in my life and everyone around him.

    Im not suggestion people go around telling each other off as an attempt to get ahead.

    I realized that it’s the small destructive things in ones life that takes them down and keeps them down. We clearly seen the big things. Only when we listen to our instincts will we be able to see those little things, they have the most influence on us.

    My lesson I learned was to follow my heart and gut instinct more and more. When I do I step up to a higher level, the people around me promote me and I find more peace.

    The reason people promote me is because their instincts tell them that I deal with my instincts an in turn will deal with theirs.

    Very small but powerful truth.

  6. says

    Mindset may even help those freelancers you refer to who “aren’t even good looking”! We all know people who objectively, are not remarkably attractive. And yet, they exude confidence; they know how to flaunt their best assets; they have a glow…and poof…they are spectacular! Mindset has an impact on everything we do – personally and professionally. So, for the record, my derriere is WAYYYYY hot!

  7. says

    I think another one is the idea of comfort. Thats the one that really gets to me. I have a day job as a web developer, and even though I know I can be more successful as a freelancer and be happier, I cannot bring myself to push off from the knowing I have the constant paycheck and insurance boat.

  8. TheAL says

    While I disagree that mindset is everything, as many aspects of measurable, real psychology cannot be overlooked, and many of them can be based on lifelong conditioning or neurological factors that can easily go beyond a person’s unwillingness to merely grow a pair and change, it’s still an undeniable pro or con. All the time a person spends thinking “woe is me” is time not spent making his/her freelance business viable. Time spent second guessing something could very well amount to more time than just doing something and then fixing it IF it went wrong.

    Just remember – anyone with a frontal lobe would know that things like poverty/sociological advantages/disadvantages/psychological issues/etc are NOT always just a state of mind, some of them actually can be measurable factors that are not a person’s direct fault. Most research in psychology even suggests that the part of the brain that can use will power to escape a rut is the same part already being used to make someone so resolutely stuck in “failure.”

  9. Catena Creations says

    Went to see Van Deeb, a motivational speaker, at a sales seminar in June. One of the many great things he said was, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” At the time I was working with an extremely negative supervisor, and what he said was so true! Her negativity poured out of my mouth every day. I quit this part-time job a few weeks later, but kept working for them from home to complete some things I had started. Now the owner has asked me to send him a retainer agreement so I can keep working for them — from home, and out of her way.

    Lots of negative things happen. You can’t be perky all the time. But how you handle people and situations like this makes all the difference. Feeling the pain and expressing your anger appropriately are important, but so are forgiveness and moving on.

  10. says

    Freelancing involves marketing yourself, and you have to believe in yourself to sell your services. But, one of the key ingredients in freelance is the,”I’m here for you” attitude (reminds me of a Seinfeld episode). A freelancer who always answers the phone and will work until 3am to finish up work for a client will win over the hearts of many employers even if their work is average. Employers need to get the job done, so if you are fast on the draw, that is a reason to have confidence in yourself!

    Jeremy Belmont is the author of the 123notary.com BLOG which deals with issues effecting freelance mobile notaries.

  11. says

    Here, here. A positive mindset is crucial to confidence & self belief. It is also so true that ‘what you think about, you bring about’! So we must all beware of negative self deprecating thoughts.


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