Dealing with failure: A key skill for freelancers
More individuals than ever before are working in a freelance capacity. The rise of widespread internet connection and the desire for a flexible working style has meant that many people who previously worked as employees are now embarking on careers as freelance writers, graphic designers, programmers, and so on. However, few people receive practical or psychological training when it comes to running their own business or living a successful, low-stress life as a self-employed individual.
Practical versus psychological skills: Why you need both to succeed
When you start out as a self-employed person, you of course need to make sure that you have a marketable skill, that you know how to find clients, and that you know how to price your work. At the same time, running a business is just as much of a psychological as a practical challenge.
One key professional skill important to everyone, but especially vital for a freelancer, is knowing how to bounce back from failure. When you work with other people or in a traditional job, you can look to others for support. Not so when you work alone. This is why you need to anticipate setbacks and learn how to overcome them by yourself.
Your reputation is important, which can make the prospect of failure especially daunting
Failure can be especially hard for a freelancer because your personal and professional reputation is more fragile and important than that of an average salaried employee. It is therefore vital that you have a healthy attitude to failure and are prepared to overcome setbacks. Here are a few brutal truths that you need to face in order to propel yourself to greater heights!
1. Failure is inevitable.
Whether it’s difficulties with your first website or a missed project deadline, you will fail at some stage. If you cannot deal with this reality, consider whether the freelance life is really for you. You will make mistakes, you will take on more than you can handle from time to time, and you will lose, occasional days here and there fixing your errors. However capable you are, you are still human and you will mess up.
2. You should never try to hide your failures.
There’s no need to broadcast it to everyone when you make an error but you should always be honest with those who will be affected by your mistakes, whether it be a client or someone to whom you owe money. Honesty is the best policy! Lying is stressful, and the truth has a habit of coming out eventually. Furthermore, clients respect an honest freelancer who admits they misjudged a project. They will never respect a liar.
3. Remember that a few months from now, you probably will not even remember a particular mistake.
When you encounter failure, it can feel as though the world has ended and that your career will be over forevermore. This is especially likely if you have been under a great deal of stress or are working on an especially important project. However, it is important that you stay calm, remain honest with everyone involved, and remind yourself that in a few months’ time, you will probably have forgotten all about your mistake.
4. You should always learn from your mistakes.
Whilst there is no point dwelling on your mistakes once any given crisis has passed, you should always try and learn from the experience. How could you prevent the same mistake happening again? Keep a journal or professional log if possible. The saying that “experience is the best teacher” really is true.
5. It is important to congratulate yourself for doing the best you can.
Always celebrate your professional successes, because they are just as important as your failures! When something goes wrong, remind yourself of two or three recent successes. Keep a balanced view of your career and projects.
The freelance life is not for everyone. It requires tremendous mental resilience and determination. However, it can also offer significant rewards in terms of earning and lifestyle. Prepare yourself for the inevitable low points and you will be one step closer to a successful freelance career.