Should You Go with Your Gut?

Did you ever have that sinking feeling that a project you are about to start isn’t going to go right?

You’ve checked the client out thoroughly and they seem legit. You’ve defined the scope of the project in detail and you understand what is required.

Nothing seems to be amiss…and yet you still have that uneasy feeling that something is wrong with this project. You just can’t put your finger on the problem.

Should you go ahead and accept the project anyway, despite the sinking feeling you have about it in your gut? Or should you trust your gut feeling and turn the project down?

In this post, we’ll explore your options for what to do when a project seems right, but feels wrong. There are pros and cons for taking the project anyway, and we’ll look at both sides. Feel free to share your own experiences and insights at the end of the post.

Why Your Gut May Be Right

There are many who believe that our intuition can sense trouble before it actually occurs. If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong about a particular client or project, there may actually be something valid behind your feeling (even if you don’t know what it is yet).

You may have actually sensed potential problems such as:

  • A personality conflict. Often clients go out of their way to impress you when you first meet. Personality conflicts usually surface later. But sometimes you can sense personality problems even when there is no concrete evidence.
  • A lie. Naturally, no one will come out and tell you that they are lying, but there are often subtle clues that we pick up on subconsciously when someone tells a lie. These clues could be the source of your gut feeling.

The bottom line is that if the idea of working with someone on a particular project makes you extremely uncomfortable, then you don’t have to work with them. Sometimes it is better that you do not. After all, you’re a freelancer and you can pick and choose the projects that you work on.

Consider your past history. If your gut feelings have been right in the past, you probably need to listen to what your intuition is trying to tell you now.

On the other hand, your gut feeling might be wrong.

Why Your Gut May Be Wrong

There are perfectly valid reasons why your negative gut feeling could be wrong. There are many factors that can feel like intuition, but actually are not. Here are a few of them.

  • Fear. Are you afraid to try new things? Fear is one of a freelancer’s greatest enemies. Fear can keep you from taking chances and growing as a freelancer and as a person.
  • Lack of confidence. Lack of confidence can also keep a freelancer from success. Try to look at your abilities and accomplishments objectively. If you need to, enlist the help of a friend.

If you let your fear and lack of confidence keep you from ever taking risks or trying new things, you may have trouble moving ahead in your freelancing business. It’s not always a good idea to go with your gut.

Again, consider your past history. If you know that you tend to be fearful and lacking in confidence, that may be what’s actually behind your negative gut feeling.

Also, remember that having negative feelings about a project can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Beware the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

If you do proceed on a project despite having a negative gut feeling about it, beware the self-fulfilling prophecy.

In this case, a self-fulfilling prophecy means that because you believe that the project may go wrong you subconsciously sabotage the project and cause it to fail. Thus, your gut feeling becomes reality.

Watch your attitude closely to make sure that you put your best efforts into this project, despite your initial misgivings.

Your Turn

In the end, the choice about whether to accept or reject a project based on your gut feeling about it is yours.

What do you do when a project simply feels wrong? Do you accept it anyway, or turn it down? Can you think of any options that I missed?

Share your thoughts in the comments.