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Leaving the Rat Race

They say freelancing is the new future. What with all the growth predictions the field has been getting. But just like any job, people are bound to have different experiences so it’s best not to make the jump on mere forecasts alone.

Rather than just bank on freelancing’s growth as a market, why not make it work for you whether things are on the rise or not?

It’s a lofty ideal, but one that’s certainly possible if you’re willing to go out of your comfort zone and put the work in. Here are a few things that can help ensure that your transition to self-employment becomes a lasting, successful career decision.

Invest in Yourself

When gearing up for a new venture, the last thing people think about is investing in themselves. I mean, it’s hard enough to invest in a career change and on top of that, you have to invest in yourself too?

I say, yes. Freelancing is a business and that business is you. So it only makes sense to invest in yourself as early as possible.

One such investment is your personal brand. Ever since the web has invaded our everyday lives, our digital footprint has been an integral part of our personal and professional direction. In fact, the OG of personal branding who brought the term into mass consciousness a decade ago, Tom Peters, summed up its significance best: “We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”

I, for one, can attest how important personal branding is.

Since starting freelancing in 2011, I have only started building my personal brand a good four years after. See, I’m a low profile kind of person and I value my anonymity intensely. It was good for my self-image but bad for my business. Four years in and I still don’t have any clips or published articles to show for it. Not to mention that I’m also virtually unfindable since I typically shunned social media.

Of course, the outcome was that I had a more difficult time conveying my value across. I have to resort to telling them, instead of showing them when the latter is a much more effective way.

It made me realize that if I want to win more opportunities, I have to be willing to put myself out there.

A lot of companies and clients often vet the people they hire first and they do this through the web. Nowadays, people feel kinda iffy working with someone they have zero knowledge about. They often think that a person has something to hide when his or her background is as sparse as the hair on a balding head (no offense to bald people).

A superb personal brand will be able to show your unique value proposition or what makes you different from your competitors. If they know what you do best and your “best” fits what they’re looking for, then clients will get you to provide them what you’re offering.

If you don’t proactively shape your brand to your liking, you will be left with a brand that may or may not totally reflect what you want or the value you can offer.

In order to steer your personal brand to the direction you want it to, you have to be deliberate in what you post in your public and personal profiles. Whatever you publish on the web can get around and often stays forever once others make a copy of it.

There are a lot of things that come with forming a personal brand. But basically, you have to have relevant social media profiles where people can check out what you generally do or what your background is. Having your personal site is helpful in most cases as well.

For the most definitive guide on the web for building a personal brand, check out this exhaustive blueprint by Neil Patel.

Do Your Research and Have a Strategy In Place

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“Fail to plan and you plan to fail,” Franklin once said. With any kind of change that entails risks, you have to take the time out to plan your course of action to improve your chance for success.

Before starting out, you have to have an inkling of what to do. Where will you find your clients? How much will you charge? How do you write a proposal? These are just some of the questions you should be asking yourself before you start. The only way to answer the said questions is to do your research and map out a plan from there.

This is an essential part of having a successful freelance career. Although the amount of information on the web is staggering, it’s up to you to choose the ones that are relevant and helpful to you.

Starting out comes with its own sets of challenges and you’ll be no exception to it. Of course, you don’t have to face the difficulties you encounter alone. With the right resources in your hands and by using the knowledge of others, you’re sure to have a more smooth-sailing start compared to going at it alone.

On the financial front, you should be able to have enough savings to tide your transition over. More than just serving as the source of your living expense, it’s good to have a little bit of extra to spend on the necessary tools to jumpstart your freelance business.

Another excellent strategy would be to find clients in advance. Start networking both online and offline and let people know the nature of your business.

Other places where you can source work include job boards (if that’s your kind of thing), freelance marketplaces, social media, and through cold email outreach.

Have a System in Place and Follow It

I’ve heard a lot from just transitioned freelancers that they often get overwhelmed with the freedom and autonomy of working alone. To counteract this, you still have to have some form of working structure or system in place to guide you.

Having a process in place means you don’t have to make a guess every time and just hope that things work out. Typical aspects of your freelance business that should have a process include marketing, writing proposals, working, and finding new clients, just to name a few.

You can do this by scheduling your work and break times, so you don’t get lost in the numerous tasks and deadlines before you.

Planning your day makes it easier to go through the things you have to do since you already thought of it in advance and the only thing left is to do it. Of course, you don’t have to accomplish every possible task you can think of. Do only the most important ones that absolutely need to get done in the next few days.

Banking on a system to do things instead of sheer willpower or self-discipline alone will ensure that you get to finish the things you’ve set out to do.

Science backs this up and states that willpower is a limited resource. Every time you resist the temptation to scroll through Facebook and Instagram or binge watch on Youtube—you’re burning off precious mental capital. If I had known this before, I would’ve just succumbed to every clickbait I’ve come across the web. Kidding.

Don’t Just Work Hard, Work Smart

If research is to be believed, elite and average performers actually don’t differ in how many hours they practice. The only difference is that they’re spending their time deliberately with scheduled breaks in between. Compared to the average group, the elite performers actually get to sleep more by an hour and feel much relaxed. They feel better despite not putting in more practice hours. Simply put, it’s all about quality over quantity.

Simply put, it’s all about quality over quantity. It’s not about working yourself to death, but making sure your mind and body have time to breathe.

Although hard work isn’t bad, too much can be counterintuitive to your progress. We know that hard work is difficult, but it should still leave you enough energy to enjoy the day after.

It shouldn’t be a totally depleting experience. If it feels like life have been sucked away from your body every time you finish then that’s overworked. Can you imagine working like that every damn day of your like? That would probably be hell.

This just goes to show that hard work isn’t always an accomplishment. Most times, it’s just a recipe for a stressed out life that’s sure to burn you out sooner or later.

Book Clients in Advance

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I know one of the things that keep people from jumping to self-employment is the instability that comes with it. There are months you’ll be teeming with work and months with nary a fly on your schedule. A better way around this is to find your first clients in advance before leaving work. Once you’ve found your first few clients, don’t get comfortable and proactively look for clients for the coming months.

I had to learn it the hard way, but you can’t always rely on the projects you get. Clients will suddenly disappear, some will suddenly stop a project, and some often give delayed payments.

Another reason why a lot of freelancers fail is that they get complacent when they have current projects to work on. When you’re knee-deep in work and have an income that keeps things on an even keel, a future of having to grovel for work don’t loom as large.

Another tip I often hear from seasoned pros is to never be always available. This has its ties on the concept of scarcity. Being available all the time might show that you’re not particularly in demand and as is typical with human nature, clients want those they can’t get.

Joanna Wiebe of Copyhackers told a story illustrating just this. It was in 2011 when she had a client asking her to work on his project. She was extremely busy at the time and honestly couldn’t email the client back. She already told him all the reasons why he should find a different copywriter, but that only made the client more insistent on working with her. Once Joanna relented, the client hired her on retainer for a year for $150/hour, 10 hours a week. That’s already $72,000!

Watch Your Own Back

Now that you’re solely responsible for your career, you have to get in charge and look out for yourself. Ensure the growth and progress of your freelance business through constant improvement and investment in yourself. Of course, it follows that your improvement should also be reflected in your rates.

If you believe in the value of your work and you have the results to match it then, by all means, raise your fees. No one will do it for you.

Succeeding in this field is totally doable as others who have done it can attest. What matters is the willingness to learn and the open-mindedness to improve and try out new things that can make you better.

The points above are to hopefully help you steer clear of countless trial and errors. Because although some sort of failure is good—persistent, dire failure can be dehumanizing. It makes you feel helpless and keeps you from achieving what you’re capable of, which is always a shame since we all have our gifts to share.

Chronic failure may be due in part to a lack of motivation. Ideally, of course, it’s better not to rely on motivation alone to work or produce quality output. But the thing is, we’re not in an ideal world and most people need something that will prompt them to action.

Theories of motivation state that motivation is key to sustaining behaviors that are goal-oriented. In short, when people are not motivated, it often shows in their actions such as in the poor quality of work, the shoddy consideration to details and so on and so forth. To complete our cause and effect loop: when you’re not motivated, it’s often because you don’t like what you’re doing.

As the beaten-to-death maxim goes, “If there’s a will, there’s a way.” If you don’t have any will to do something, stop and take a good look at why is this so. Do you not like the kind of work you’re doing? If your answer is yes, then there’s only one solution to that. Stop doing it.

Remember that one of the best advantages of working for yourself is having the power to exercise your own choice. If your reason is, “I don’t have any choice.” Of course, you do, you just chose to not have any choice and to not look at any other options. 

I admit there are those who have bills to pay, cats to serve, and a stomach to keep from growling. If that’s the case, work until you can choose to have a better choice.

Grit your teeth and try not to let your lack of motivation and desire for the job kill your competence and discernment for quality.

Of course, you shouldn’t require yourself to feel absolutely gung-ho on a project for you to be able to give your best. It’s all about balancing the not-so-good things with the excellent aspects that come with a job. There’s a difference between lacking interest or being unable to stand something and fearing something new. The former is soul-crushing while the latter is an opportunity for growth.

Final Takeaways

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Running a freelance business is not a cookie-cutter job. Don’t just follow these tips or how other experts are running theirs. You have to know your skills and what you want to make sure it fits your goals and is something you really want to do. Not just because you want the same results.

If the solution is as simple as taking stock of your personality and values against the potential pitfalls and successes of a job, why aren’t more people doing it? The answer is because taking the time out to know yourself can be gut-wrenching. You’ll get to know the truth of your nature and you’ll have to face your inner demons and shortcomings. Not a pretty sight for many I tell ya.

The truth is, we all have our own journey. Getting caught up with the progress of others will only serve to stunt your own. As long as you put in the work and figure out what the best for you is along the way, then any detours will only serve as an added knowledge for you.

Just don’t work for yourself or put up a business to solely gain money or accolades. These are the by-products when you have all the right ingredients factored into your work life. This is why any work that you do or career you’re in should fit your personality and goals. Otherwise, it’s highly less likely that you’ll get to genuinely enjoy and excel in what you’re doing.

If I could sum up how people with long-term successes arrived at where they are is that they found something they enjoy and they’re also good at.

I mean, you have to be one heck of a saint to withstand a lifetime of grueling work that you absolutely hate, right? And we all know how saints turn out in the end—they only receive their glory posthumously. I, for one, want to enjoy things while I’m still alive, of course.

Although it’s much easier to follow a pattern and live the life of others—don’t. Subscribing to what others believe in without taking your own interests into account can only lead you into a never-ending quagmire of defeats that you don’t necessarily have to go through.

Working as your own boss is a dream for many, what with all the worthwhile benefits that come with it. You can choose the time you work. Plan your own vacations whenever it suits you. You can handpick the projects you work on. Not to mention that you can save money since you don’t have to buy corporate clothes or commute to work.

I could spout off a few more advantages, but you probably get the drift by now.

Personally, I believe being self-employed should be the norm. I want to see more people enjoying their lives and careers with more time and autonomy.

But the thing is, you have to know what it takes to successfully work for yourself. For some, they won’t know until they try it. While some could already glean from knowing themselves. Charting your own business or freelance career typically involves significant risk, as well as possible losses in time and effort. Not to mention the cost of not being able to bank on stability.

If you’ve been thinking for some time whether to start working independently, this article is for you. Below are just some the things that can help you ensure your success as your own boss.

Combine the Right Drive With the Willingness to Work

There are a good number of people out there who think being self-employed equals slacking off. But this is just a myth.

In fact, a 2012 freelance report by Ed Gandia attests to this where it revealed that only virtual assistants and photographers are able to get the most free time once they start working independently.

Those in the freelance IT and software positions have less free time compared to when they were regularly employed. For business consultants, editors, and illustrators, it’s roughly just the same. It was also disclosed that at least one-third (29%) of freelancers work more than 40 hours a week while a good 27% worked the typical 40 hours.

This just goes to show that working for yourself doesn’t mean you could take things easy. It doesn’t mean you can’t in the future. But you have to put in the work first, even if it means working more than you ever did in your life at times or when necessary.

Nonetheless, there are few other forms of livelihood out there where you can enjoy a great deal of freedom, flexibility, and autonomy. However, working independently still comes with the usual obligations that come with any job. This means there are deadlines to meet, clients to appease, and requirements to follow.

With the average employee in U.S. working 47 hours a week, it’s more ambitious to think what you could do with all those hours when geared toward your own goals.

If you look at being self-employed as a stepping stone for bigger things and not just an easy way out of the 9 to 5 grind, then you my friend, are one step closer to success.

Be Able to Deal With Financial Uncertainties

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With every benefit comes a drawback. In the case of being self-employed, there will always be a certain amount of uncertainty in terms of your monthly income. In fact, in Gandia’s report, the foremost challenges majority of freelancers experience is finding clients and getting consistent, steady work.

A separate survey by Contently says the same thing and that as much as 35% of independent workers think that the biggest obstacle for them is securing sufficient work. In the survey, full-time freelancers also reportedly had a median income of $30,000. Compared to those who had a traditional job, the income from being self-employed is comparatively smaller in the data they published.

Many freelancers often claim a feast-or-famine cycle in this field. There will invariably be times you’ll get droves of work that you have to start turning down projects and at times. There will also be times you’ll have no project for weeks on end.

This could be why 55% of freelancers surveyed in the report are willing to go back the 9 to 5 route. Or at least think about it if the right options come along.

So if you can deal with this and can live your life decently despite a fluctuating monthly income, then you just met another essential skill set for thriving in this field.

Have the Discipline to Work on Your Own

Discipline has been hailed as one of the building foundations of success. Studies such as the Marshmallow Test and other follow-up studies to it have all led to the conclusion that it’s a crucial factor if you want to succeed in most aspects of life—whether on a personal or professional level.

Working for yourself requires a tremendous amount of self-discipline. You have to get things done within a specific timeframe even when no one’s breathing down your neck to do it.

Moreover, working in this field means that you get the burden of doing everything alone—from networking to prospecting and doing the actual work. All of these takes time (sometimes months or up to a year). If you can develop the self-discipline to get everything in working order then you can pretty much make it through most obstacles in this field.

Once you’re past that phase, you’ll still need a hefty amount of self-discipline to sustain whatever you’ve managed to build thus far. After all, you wouldn’t want to let all that work go to waste, right?

If you have the wherewithal to consistently improve your capacity for self-discipline even without someone pressuring you to do so or even when there seem to be no tangible benefits, then you’ll no doubt geared for success.

Handle Long-Term Difficulties

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Just like any endeavor worth pursuing, you have to be able to see the good with the bad aspects in order to accurately assess whether something is a good fit for you.

Statistics show that around 35% of freelancers think that the self-employment field is bound to get difficult in the next 10 years. Understandably so, since independent workers are expected to rise as much as 40% by 2020 according to Intuit’s report so competition is about to get stiff.

More than just the competition, part of the difficulties of working for yourself is that you’ll largely be operating alone. If you crave socializing and schmoozing with your officemates or hustle and bustle of the corporate atmosphere, then either it might take you a while to get used to having only yourself around or you come to hate being self-employed.

Aside from just the social aspect, be ready to forego the usual benefits you’re used to getting from your regular job.

When you’re employed, your company takes on the bulk of handling your benefits and other forms of social assistance. As a freelancer, you have to take on payments for your health care and retirement plans.

These are just a few of the challenges that come with being an independent worker. If you think you can handle most, or all of the above, let alone manage multiple challenges at once then this might just be the path where you can flourish.

Be Assertive When it Comes to Negotiating

Part of being your own boss is that a lot of it rides on your ability to look out for yourself. To do that, you need to be assertive especially when someone’s lowballing you to the depths of bargain pricing hell. Once you’re able to get your worth, you also have to be assertive enough to point out when a project’s working scope becomes out of bounds of your contractual limits.

Sending a client an invoice won’t necessarily guarantee you payment, but if that happens, can you also stand up for yourself and follow up a late payment?

Research has shown that assertiveness is an important trait if you want to be able to achieve a positive financial outcome for yourself. Being assertive means being able to get what you’re worth and sticking up to the kind of value you can give.

Out in this field (or in life in general), if you act like a prey, you get treated like a prey. My favorite proverb all the more attests to this by saying, “You won’t get anywhere in life if you let people walk all over you.”

This is true whether in a personal or professional context. So if this is an aspect you have or are willing to develop, then you’ll undoubtedly thrive being your own boss.

Be Capable of Wearing Different Hats

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To succeed working for yourself, you have to be able to juggle different roles throughout your career.

From your workload to filing your taxes and arranging your overall finances, making sure that everything gets done can be a tricky balancing act.

Your task doesn’t stop at just finding clients—you have to be able to keep them as well. This means spending enough time building your professional relationships so that they’ll want to have repeat business with you in the future.

Being self-employed also often means you’re not just tied to one job and you get to work on multiple projects at once. If you’re the type who can easily handle different tasks and enjoy doing a broad range of things then you have a bright future ahead of you in this field.

Sooner down the line, you might also find that you need to diversify your freelance career with other skills in order to grow professionally. Although a lot of people prefer sticking to their strengths, a little learning or additional knowledge never hurt anybody.

Without growth, you’ll be stuck in the same level of skill set and income you started with. Regardless of whether you have another mouth to feed or you just upgraded your lifestyle.

Can Handle Unpredictability and Freedom to Work On Your Own

People have different versions of what freedom means for them. For many of today’s self-employed peeps, it usually means autonomy and being free of rote, dull work.

In a recently published IBM report, it was revealed that one of the things that independent workers value is autonomy. Autonomy is the capacity to work even without anyone telling you what to do for the most part.

Even though it’s a good thing that you can freely choose the kind of work that you do, you’re also the only person who has to deliver the work that you choose. With great power, comes great possibility indeed (pardon for using this cliched Spiderman quote).

Since you don’t have any traditional boss watching everything you do, you have to have the initiative of meeting deadlines and abiding by the project’s standards.

For many, having a sense of control in the work that they do is paramount for their job satisfaction. If this is the case for you, you might just find success working for yourself.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

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Success is an elusive, relative thing. It’s rarely the case that it lands on your lap with little to no work and success isn’t success until it fulfills your most significant goals in life. This is why the success rate for reaching one’s goals is absurdly minuscule—only 3% in fact.

This is why it’s always helpful to figure out first if you’d be a good fit working for yourself. In the end, you wouldn’t want your life or your years of tenure at your job to go to waste with the sudden realization that this isn’t what you wanted after all.

There are a lot of advantages to being an independent worker. To be able to reap the benefits that come with the job, you also have to know if it’s a good fit for your overall goals, skills, and personality.

There are a lot of responsibility riding if it’s just you manning the ship. So make sure this lifestyle is really something you’d want for yourself.

Know that independence doesn’t always guarantee success. If anything, it actually entails being more accountable and responsible for your own working habits and output.

At the end of the day, your decision shouldn’t just reflect what you want, but an honest assessment of your skills and willingness. If you know yourself enough, you’ll know what the right decision is for you and whether you really have what it takes to succeed in this field.

Let’s say you’re at the end of your wits trying to tolerate your job and you just can’t last a day more. Maybe the people you work with are toxic, or the work is just mind-numbingly deadening, or you just feel plain miserable having to haul your ass everyday to make that commute.

So you just quit right then and then and decide to finally make the jump to being self-employed—with little to no preparation. At all.

You then start diving straight into freelance work. But there’s one catch, there’s no work to speak of. You comb the freelance markets daily and apply to every job imaginable that remotely fits your skill, but still, nada. A week passes, a month, and another month until you were just about ready to give up your dreams of being a professional homebody. But horrific memories of your job keeps you hanging on to a fast thinning thread of hope.

After a long draught, you then finally land a job that gets you started on your freelance career. Whew. What a close call.

Has this ever happened to you? The jobless period, by the way, not the sudden quitting part.

Anecdotal evidence from me and my colleagues revealed that many of us got started with a vacant lull upon transitioning. Some luck out quickly, while others have to endure months without work. A close acquaintance of mine actually took five months to land her first gig. That’s one hell of a resolve, because I doubt many people can continue trudging months trying to find work.

It’s no easy feat to survive months without work, but is it possible? Certainly.

So how did I and a few others did it? Below are some tips you can use to cushion a no-work period should it happen to you (hoping it doesn’t).

Make Use of Your Every Available Skill Set

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Maybe in your previous job your role was a customer service representative, but it doesn’t mean that you have to take freelance work within the same field or industry. The amazing thing about being self-employed is that you can start anew and pursue any other form of work you have the right skill set for.

In fact, this 2012 Freelance Industry Report uncovered that around 27% of freelancers started with jobs unrelated to their previous work.

Or better yet, why not try to source work basing on your two strongest skills? For instance, if you got a smooth, powerful voice then feel free to apply for voiceover jobs as well.

The key here is to expand your opportunities, not limit them to what you’re used to doing.

In the world of freelance, no job is really guaranteed and you can’t just bank on people’s words (or online contracts for that matter) that they’ll be giving you this or that job. Make sure you find other work that suits your skills even if it was something you’ve never done before.

Have A Highly Budgeted Existence

It sucks to have to say this advice, because I, myself don’t really like extremely restrictive budgets, but tough times require tough measures.

In the same report above, the feast-or-famine cycle is evident in the field especially for illustrators (28%), software developers (20%), as well as web developers and writers (both at 17.7%).

So how do you budget effectively then? Personal finance expert J.D. Roth says, not to always base your budget on your average monthly income unless it’s more or less consistently the same. The smarter way would be to base it on your minimum monthly income for the past year.

This ensures that you won’t be living off more than you can spend. To do this, just keep track of your every expense and don’t take any time off until things got more secure.

Save Enough Living Stipend for the Next Few Months

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This is a staple in every freelancer starter pack. If you’re still working and plan on leaving in the far future, you might want to keep a hefty amount of your monthly paycheck to tide things over once you become self-employed.

For some, this is a tall order, because self-control can be really hard.

If you want, you can try to have a savings challenge, whether it be for a few months or a year. In order to reinforce this challenge, try to curb a very expensive habit you might have. For instance, if you’ve always ordered your coffee at Starbucks, why not try a take-out coffee ban for a few a months and see how that goes.

Another good option is to only spend using cash so you don’t rack up any necessary credit card debts.

These are just some saving goals you can take on, but the more effective strategy would be to develop a saving habit. This ensures that no matter what you’re financial standing is, you’ll know how to handle whatever comes your way.

Of course, what would life be if you can’t splurge from time to time, right?

If there’s a special occasion or any other instance that you think warrants it, then go ahead and feel free to do yourself a favor once in a while.

Keep Your Overhead Costs Down

Starting your freelance career is as cheap as it gets, but it could be tempting to deck out your office space from the get-go or to purchase lots of fancy, online tools that you think are essential.

Although some online tools are indispensable and downright helpful, you have to know which things are a necessity and which are not. Do you have to really buy a good deal of furniture for your new office space at home? As much as possible, just opt for the least that you need.

No doubt, it’s always remarkable to have quality things, but if it’s not just feasible with your current situation then hold it off for now.

Alternatively, you may also try to find newer options of the things, app, or software you want to buy if there aren’t many crucial differences between the two. Buy lesser priced ones, but don’t go too cheap to the point you’ll have to purchase something again in just a few months.

Financially Succeeding as a Newbie

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If you can do all the said steps as you’re starting out then congratulations! You’re on your way to being in a better financial position.

To conclude, you’ll have to rein in your expenses and searching out low-cost measures to get your finances in order once you start freelancing. Additionally, make sure you update your goals as your circumstances change and never fail to keep track of your progress.

Throughout all this, I just want to say that you shouldn’t be afraid to quit if that’s really what you want. You might make a couple of wrong calls in the beginning, but it’s always part of the learning process.

Just make sure you don’t keep throwing money, time, and effort to things that are not just working for you.

You may probably have heard of the term “wantrepreneurs,” a word used to describe today’s growing legion of individuals who are eternally stuck in the stage of wanting to start a business but never get around to doing so.

These aspiring entrepreneurs seem enamored enough with their ideas. They talk about it and discuss their plans with anyone who would care to listen, but could never muster enough time or money to get their visions underway. It’s a sad reality knowing that many of those wanting to strike out on their own will never follow through more than half of the time.

Data shows that as much as 71% of millennials want to work for themselves in the future. After all, who wouldn’t want the chance to make it big, or to have the autonomy to use their time and talents as they see fit?

However, this is often not an enough motivation for people. They hem and haw even before they could put their foot out the door. Why? Because of the age-old emotion of fear. As humans, we fear a lot of things. We fear loss, we fear failure, we fear being inadequate, we fear disappointments, we fear defeat, we fear losing, and the list goes on and on.

But all in all, we can sum up all of these fears to one thing—the fear of success and what comes with it. We live in dread of success’ trappings that we’re willing to forego chances and opportunities so we can keep our ego intact.

This is what lies at the root of the wantrepreneur syndrome and why so many will never get past this “wanting” stage.

So if you’re more afraid of not knowing what you could do or how far your potential will take you, then that’s the first step of beating the wantrepreneur syndrome. You have to feel something bigger than your fears.

Now that we have the first step down, there are other concrete courses of action you have to undertake.

Stop Overthinking Things or Obsessively Worrying

Entrepreneur Ideas

A lot of wantrepreneurs are always stuck with their thoughts. They obsess about the nitty and gritty and want every detail to be perfect. As Graham Davey estimates, a psychologist specializing in anxiety, about 80% of people’s worries will hardly ever happen.

Of course, it’s always good to flesh out your plans beforehand instead of vaguely groping your way around. But anything done to extremes can only hurt your progress in the long run.

Know when too much is too much. If you’ve ever caught yourself unduly prolonging leaving your 9 to 5 job despite having prepared as you could, then you could be unreasonably getting gung-ho over the wanting phase.

You can only improve once you make the jump. From there, you’ll get valuable, concrete feedback of what really works and what could go wrong.

No amount of researching, visualizing, and thinking can ever replace real world specifics so try not to get stuck with the thought of doing it and roll with it once you finish going over most of the major details.

Manage Your Fear of Failure

fear of failure

Fear of failure is a common phenomenon. Nine out of ten of newly established businesses fail. That’s a very high mortality rate no matter what field you’re in. What this tells us is that failure is essential. There’s a high chance that you’ll fail along the way and that’s okay because failing is an inevitable prerequisite to success. Those who don’t fail never manage to achieve anything in life.

Letting the fear of failure dictate your actions can undermine your own success. Sometimes, it’s you who stand in the way of your own success. The good thing is that you have the sole power to change that.

If your ideas and plans are really worth pursuing, you’re bound to fail at some point and that’s a good thing. In life, we always learn more from our failures than our successes.

Don’t make the mistake of waiting for a lifetime, because by then, things could’ve vastly changed—and not always for the better.

Realizing these things can keep you from being stuck in inaction.

Failure is just a matter of perspective and it’s almost impossible to go through life unscathed with losses. If you know people who do, they’re probably being overcautious to the point that they’ve hardly done any living, if at all.

We can choose how to look at failure. It can be a world-crumbling defeat or a lesson to be learned. It’s really up to you.

If you let failure stop you, you’ll only be doing yourself a disservice by passing on opportunities that could’ve contributed to a better quality of life for you.

Act on It

Fear of failure

If you’re in doubt whether you really have what it takes to go out there and compete, there’s really one way to find out—get started.

No matter how experienced or how skilled you think you are, taking action is what matters in the end.

Amazing skills or talents unused are worth nothing if not translated into action.

In Startup Bros’ infographic on entrepreneurs, two of the key things that led to success were starting two companies or more (47.1%) and starting their first businesses (41.4%).

This just goes to show that you have to at least get started and establish a business before you could even ever hope to achieve the things you’ve always wanted.

In this article by Forbes on the psychology of success, psychologist Kelly Shaver says that those who start businesses for themselves are just glad to go ahead and be able to do what they’re doing. If you’re not willing to take the first step then you’re probably not just dedicated enough to making your vision a reality.

Small actions are better than big ideas planned, to paraphrase Peter Marshall. It’s hard to take action when you’re faced with a daunting decision, but getting something done trumps endless attempts to achieve perfection.

In this field, you usually learn by doing. Failure is only truly horrible if you gleaned nothing from it. In today’s times, it’s not just about what you know, but what you can do armed with that information.

After Beating the Wantrepreneur Syndrome

Once you’ve finally crossed the threshold of wanting, expect a couple of frustrations and despairs along the way. In return, you might also have rewarding times where everything just feels worth it.

Nevertheless, the real reward of being an entrepreneur is in the work, even if the work involved is difficult.

Now that you’ve made the jump, you don’t have to worry as much about making it out okay.

See your starting move as an opportunity, instead of a risk. Few people ever get to that starting point and if you were courageous enough to go ahead, then you also have the pluck to bounce back should you meet failure at any point in time on your journey.

Self-esteem has been often one of the most touted top characteristics of successful people. In a way, this can be true because our belief in ourselves certainly matters. But to what extent should you place importance on it?

In the self-development field alone, much has been said about self-esteem’s all-encompassing significance. In fact, many have taken as far as to say that it can manifest positive outcomes in itself. Throughout all this talk about the virtues of self-esteem, how much is really true and how much is just pure hype? Is self-esteem really that consequential when it comes to working for yourself?

If one of the things that have been stopping you from freelance is because you think you don’t have what it takes then this one is for you. Take heart because self-esteem may not be the cure-all pill you need to get started in chasing your dreams.

An extensive review of the literature about self-esteem by Roy Baumeister and his colleagues revealed surprising things about the trait that everyone holds on a pedestal.

Below are just some key perspectives clarifying what’s really factual and what has been largely overrated all along.

Self-esteem Doesn’t Always Lead to Good Performance

performance

Past research has shown that self-esteem is correlated with above average performance. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that self-esteem causes good performance. What Baumeister and et al. counters are that your self-esteem increases from the result of doing capable work. Not the other way around. Similarly, your self-esteem improves after attaining some sort of success and not vice versa.

So the excuse that you should improve your self-esteem first before plunging headfirst into building your own business doesn’t hold any water.

This could be largely attributed to the fact that individuals with high self-esteem have been found to handicap themselves or to procrastinate more. This is especially true if they think that a particular task would reveal their low ability in a specific area.

Another aspect that affects self-esteem and its connection to performance are where it’s contingent on. Does your self-esteem largely dependent on your work? If it is, then having a high self-esteem can lead to a good job performance.

Depending on where your self-esteem is rooted, it’s bound to fluctuate in line with your success and failures.

Self-esteem can also serve as a motivational force in the things you do. You’re more apt to invest your time and energy to things that you resonate with. If being successful is one of those, you’ll definitely think it’s worth dedicating your time and energy in making that happen.

This is why it’s important to choose healthy things to base your self-esteem on. If you root your self-esteem in others’ approval of you or in other external things, then you’re giving them more power than necessary. A healthy self-esteem should be able to give equal weight to other aspects of your life. Otherwise, you’re likely setting yourself up for a long string of misfortunes.

Self-Esteem Can Undermine How People Handle Failure

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Self-esteem has also been touted to be connected with how others regard you or how you are regarded by others.

What the latest research tells us is that having a high self-esteem doesn’t necessarily mean that others will see you as attractive or appealing. This is because there’s a thin line between having a high self-esteem and being narcissistic. The two can often be misinterpreted by many people. As what the common adage says, too much is always a bad thing.

This is why people who have too much self-esteem may convey a sense of entitlement. They may often refuse to acknowledge personal failures that majority may find off-putting.

In the field of entrepreneurship, being entitled and closed minded about failures can spell your doom.

These are all relevant information to know. Why? Because it expands our understanding of how our self-worth plays into how we handle future endeavors.

Achievement Lies in Improving Your Self-Esteem

The purported advantages of self-esteem have been discussed extensively. Nowadays, many think it’s a basic need that everybody should aspire to possess. Even prior research has claimed that humanity as a whole evolved in order to strive toward a high self-esteem.

Researchers have stated that pursuing self-esteem can be costly. However, the real benefit lies not in having a high self-esteem, but in striving to improve it.

Nonetheless, this isn’t often the case. More people are hell-bent on preserving a good image of themselves at the expense of true learning. When your only goal is to validate your worth by only acknowledging the good parts of yourself then it’s likely that you’re sabotaging your growth. Case in point is when people who have a high self-esteem erroneously believe that they’ve already improved even when a present assessment says otherwise.

Moreover, having a high self-esteem also doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll achieve more, work better, or keep from engaging in harmful vices. That seems like a tall order for just one trait, don’t you think?

People with high self-esteem are as prone to making the same choices, achieving the same things, and delivering the same work that low self-esteem people are capable of. The difference between successful people and those who aren’t cannot just be based on self-esteem alone.

What has been proven, however, is that self-esteem makes you more persistent in the face of challenges. It also enables you to take initiative, and have pleasant feelings. These are all amazing things to have but is nowhere near the long list of beneficial claims that self-help gurus have long peddled.

When done right, pursuing self-esteem doesn’t have to be costly. So don’t overvalue having the need of having a high self-esteem in order to get started on your entrepreneurial path.

Success Doesn’t Require Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is important and essential enough in any entrepreneurial efforts. Nonetheless, it doesn’t wholly determine the outcome of your career or business. There are many successful people out there who are on the top of their game, who are gifted, and who have achieved things that 99% of the population could never hope to achieve but still regard themselves so lowly.

Cameron Russell, a beautiful, successful model who has graced Victoria’s Secret and other designer runway shows, admitted in her TED talk that she felt insecure despite her status.

J. Cole, one of today’s top young hip-hop artists, said in an interview that “[he] was unhappy when amazing things are happening that [he] should have been grateful for.”

Amy Cuddly, body language expert, has also shared how she originally felt like an impostor during her stints in Princeton and Harvard.

All these examples show that it is entirely people to achieve exceptional things in your field. But still, be hounded by self-esteem issues. This is known as the impostor syndrome where someone thinks that they don’t really deserve what they have attained.

From these instances, we can glean that self-esteem is not a prerequisite toward your bid towards success. It’s something that you should consciously decide to nurture. Only then you’ll see your self-esteem improve along the way.

There’s More to Success than Just Having a High Self-Esteem

If you take the time out to comb through the breadth of articles about self-esteem in the self-development field, you’ll see a common pattern. The common logic in most of them is that you can’t possibly do well in life unless you wholly and utterly believe that you’re this wondrously, confident being.

Belief in yourself is important, of course, but overrating its value you will do you no good as well.

Giving this kind of unadulterated importance to a single aspect of yourself can result in unhealthy consequences. It makes you fear mistakes. Moreover, it makes you focus on the things you do well so you can keep a positive impression about yourself.

Stroking your ego is not a recipe for success, it’s a recipe for disaster. Rather than stubbornly holding yourself to only the good things about you, why not embrace the fact that you’re human and it’s completely normal to fail?

You know what’s better than self-esteem? Self-compassion. Research says it’s a much better way to increase self-improvement motivation. Not only is it much better for your sanity, but it does wonders for your ability to handle whatever setbacks you may face in your freelancing journey.

 

Have you been thinking about changing careers? Maybe you’re thinking of taking the freelance route or putting up a business and if you are, you’re probably thinking of the pros and cons of pushing through. The countless options open to us today have muddled the art of being decisive.

The number of articles, books, and advice on how to choose the right career path mostly tells us to find out our passion first, then decide. This is good in a way. After all, who wouldn’t want to live doing heartfelt work you love, right?

The only problem with this is that it’s rarely the case that people know what their passion is or how to go about knowing their passion is. If you’re like me who wants a bit more meaty advice than just the hackneyed “find your passion” mantra then this article is for you.

So how do you really know when to act or postpone a particularly key career decision such as leaving the comforts of the corporate structure you’ve known for so long?

Opt For the Good Kind of Delay

Admit it or not, all of us put off deciding at some point in our lives, but to know whether putting off deciding your career path is the right choice, you have to be able to differentiate between good and bad delays.

Determining whether what your delays in deciding can be deemed as “good” or “bad” involves looking at your situation contextually. A delay is bad when it further creates doubt, uncertainty, and confusion for you. A delay is good when it gives you enough time to be informed. 

Another way to differentiate good and bad delay is to examine your rationale behind it. If you’re delaying your decisions because you’re either not in the mood or you just have a poor concept of time then best believe it’s the bad kind of delay.

Postponing a decision so you can get all your facts straight and assess it against what you really want is a sensible choice. In fact, it can actually help you process any feelings of uncertainty.

Good delays is all about making the best out of the time you’re allotting to that decision. If you want a surefire way to waste time then there’s no better way to do that than to get bogged down with countless options that keep you from finally making your mind.

Simply put, good postponement is intentionally choosing to delay choosing so you can decide on the option that will bring the most value to your life.

Actions Before Feelings

esteem

Nope, this is not about a logic vs emotions debate. It’s about acting first and your feelings sorts itself after.

If postponing a decision doesn’t cut it for you and you’re still overwhelmed with any potential negative outcome then this is the way to go. You don’t really need to feel completely positive before you act because your feelings will conform to your actions.

Many decisions come with uncertainty, doubts, and other kinds of misgivings. The thing with choosing to go through only favorable feelings is that it makes you a slave to your emotions. You’re subject to the whims of your heart instead of you being the master of your own emotions. The consequences are almost always less than pleasant and often serious.

If you always rely on feeling “positive” before settling on anything then you’re only setting yourself up for failure because not all decisions can wait.

Once you start progress on a specific decision then your much more likely to improve your emotional state because you no longer have a nagging thought at the back of your mind. So don’t focus on feeling good first so you can decide, get to hashing out your options so you can start feeling good that you’re making progress toward a better, informed decision.

Be realistic about time

A person who’s time-poor is someone who often finds himself or herself under pressure just to be able to decide quickly.

Having a poor sense of time means lacking an objective view of time. These are people who insist on drawing up their own timeline irrespective of the consequences it may bring. Having a defective concept of time can mean that they also have a poor grasp of reality because they refuse to acknowledge that they’re bound to the rules of time just like everybody else.

The first step to remedying this is to acknowledge that not all decisions can wait forever. Sooner or later, there won’t be enough time to do everything you’ve set out to do. You have to know the things that are important and urgent right now and decide on that.

As you grow older, there’s less room to make up for wasted time.

When you’re not particular at the timeframe of your decisions, then you might lose on many opportunities that can result from a time well-spent on many valuable endeavors. By accepting your limitations as a person, you’re actually freeing yourself to allot more time on the things that give you the best value in return.

The key here is to accept your time and energy limitations. You might have a lot of career ideas or business ventures worth pursuing, but they won’t be worth nil if they’re not acted on.

This just further affirms that not all decisions are made of equal importance so assess your time with the same lens. Give your time to the decisions that mean more gain for you and not the other way around.

Know What Works For You

works for you

People are inherently different, some do well making quick decisions, some do well making their decisions over an extended period of time. Long story short—it’s a spectrum, not black and white. Ultimately, you have to do your own personal experimentation to find out what works best for you.

Sometimes a quick decision is required in order for you to progress. If you’re stuck in the process of overthinking things, then you could potentially miss any opening for success. An immediate decision doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being reckless. Sometimes, it just means that you’re making a choice based on the current information available to you.

What I came to know is that overcoming indecision is a process that requires dedication and commitment to sustain your progress, and part experience to know what works for you. 

As the boss of your own time, you actually hold the power to do more with whatever time you have. You’re the one who wields your time and energy, and you can re-channel your ways to a better decision-making process as you see fit given the right knowledge.

Focus on the Gains, Not the Losses

They say that the best way to predict the future is to create it. No one knows what the future holds and the truth of the matter is, certainty can never be a part of the decision-making process.

No matter the risks a decision entails, your mindset should be focused on the opportunities you can gain. It has been found that having this kind of mindset makes you less likely to experience regret or satisfaction.

The best way to predict the future is to create it. Click To Tweet

Risk is an ever present factor in every decision. What overthinking does is that it creates more doubt to the point that people get scared of all and any risks involved. Thinking over things is good in the sense that it gives you lots of ideas o pursue, but nothing is ever implemented.

Slowing down to assess information doesn’t have to be a bad thing. However, there should be a limit to how long you think over things.

What Being Decisive Really Means

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In today’s technology dependent era, a lot of people mistake being decisive as the information they consume.

Many of the information out there are definitely useful. But others use it as a crutch to delay their decisions while many others are probably overwhelmed with all the possibilities that could happen.

The drawback of having this much access to information at any time and anywhere makes it easier to slip into ineffective thinking habits. Sometimes, working with more information isn’t necessarily about being informed — it’s about lulling yourself into thinking that you’re making some progress in your decision-making process.

Although majority gather info in order to make a headway in their decisions, some are actually just whiling away their time never fully intending whether to make a decision or not.

They like entertaining the different possibilities in their mind but never gets around to ever deciding. I mean, if you get to pick the real thing or the envisioned thing, what would you choose? Most would answer the first. It makes sense because isn’t putting real value in our lives one of the utmost things we should be aspiring for?

A much better decisive plan is one that builds on the information you’ve gathered. Then, apply that information so you can make the best decision possible. In the end, it’s a psychological battle—one that’s internal, not external (the information you consume). The bottom line is, a career plan has to allow for mistakes because no one will get it right all the time.

This is when progress happens, not when you aim for perfection.

Have you been undecided about changing careers? Why or why not?

T

he struggle to overcoming the fear of failure is real. Society has put so much stigma on failure and rejection to the point that there are droves of people out there living a safe, stale life just so they wouldn’t have to deal with the shame and all the negative trappings that comes with it.

Sayings such as “failure is not an option” reflect this kind of dogged determination to avoid failure at all cost. But the truth is, failure not being in the cards is just a fanciful notion and not a true reflection of what happens in reality.

For some, the failure is not an option mindset can be even lethal.

Failure is a fact of life and everyone is bound to experience it in some way. So the main question is not how to avoid failure when you planning on going freelance, but to allow room for it so that you can easily bounce back should it happen.

I hope the below reasons are useful to anyone looking to approach failure with a renewed perspective of making it a stepping stone for your freelance career.

Failure Provides You a Different Way to Success

different way to success

Failure sucks. It makes you feel awful and makes you more risk averse. For some, failure could be so traumatic that they’d be willing to endure a thankless job or a repulsive boss just so they won’t have to stake their egos on the line.

But is failure really meant to make us feel harrowingly inferior? I believe not.

Sometimes, all it takes is a change in perspective to see that failure’s trappings are just success in disguise.

For example, one of my designer friends is one of the most brilliantly creative and hard-working people I know. Her dream was to work in a leading firm that specializes in industrial design and pursued it she did. But competition was stiff and she was bypassed for a number of key positions she applied.

After this happened, her self-worth took a dive and she deemed herself a failure.

To keep herself from wallowing in pity, I suggested to her to try taking another job first while waiting for another vacancy. Little did she know that the alternative path she took would make her discover the kind of joy and success she never could’ve anticipated.

And all it took was for her to recognize the opportunities around her.

When your only plan is plan A, with no room for adjustment to what might happen along the way then you’re setting yourself up for more disappointments along the way. Instead of overthinking what the outcome of your career decisions might be, allow yourself to expand your view and be open to a few detours.

Whatever comes, be at ease that you were brave enough to give it a shot.

Failure Makes Way For Better Things

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In the field of hard sciences, no researcher worth his or her salt would ascribe to the idea that failure is not a viable recourse because everyone fully knows that the possibility of failure is always present. Researchers start with an expectation that their hypothesis is not true, while engineers typically expect their components to fail.

Depending on what conditions, many expect their findings or systems to fail. Why?

Because the goal is to push boundaries at their breaking point in order to create a better one in its place. If progress and growth are some of the things you aspire for in your career and life, then this should be one of your foremost goals.

Failure serves as a way for you to discover priceless things that success couldn’t have led you to.

The key is to not let failure rain on your future parade. Research has shown that among entrepreneurs, those who have experienced failure often takes on defeatist views that keep them from having positive beliefs when it comes to opportunities.

Although it’s good to learn from your mistakes, those who remember it and could not move on are condemned to live in it. It is those who remember the past, learn from it, move on, and be open to new possibilities who could constructively use the past to become better and exceed it.

Failure Teaches You How to Rethink Things

Research has shown that a crucial measure of failure is disappointment. Sometimes, it’s not that you really failed, but you weren’t just able to meet your goals or expectations.

If you’ve just started on your path toward a more fulfilling career, you know that you still got a long way and learning as early as now on how to reconcile reality with what you can do. This is not about shortchanging how you see yourself. It’s about expanding your view of what success and failure means to you.

I, for one, used to suffer from having a restrictive, insular view of success. Back when I was in high school, I thought succeeding was all about having good grades and excelling in school.

I deemed anything below 90 as failure and whenever I’d get a grade below that, I could be irritatingly miserable for days. Not long after, it took a toll on my self-worth. That’s when I decided that I have to come to grips with how I conceived failure and success if I ever wanted to get back to the person I liked.

Overtime, I was able to expand my view, not just when it comes to failure and success, but also in other aspects of life.

When you allow yourself to make mistakes, you’ll know soon enough which lessons to keep and which lessons to let roll off your back so you don’t get unnecessarily bogged down.

Although failure is rarely often rewarded, it’s worth lies in knowing that you’ll come out better from it.

Failure Leads to More Intelligent Life Decisions

fear of failure

No one strives to fail, but since life is all about learning as well as making trial and mistakes, failure can still happen in the future no matter how much success you’ve attained.

I’m a big believer that intelligence is not just about IQ or being book-smart—it’s also about having a life that’s fashioned intelligently. A life where you always strive to learn from your mistakes and improves your life for the better.

There’s a reason why the past is always an afterthought. It’s for us to know that repetitive mistakes are never anyone’s life goal. When you fail to learn from your mistakes, the lessons you failed to absorb typically come back into your life until you finally, commit the caution to heart.

Each successive failure you experience is a chance to fail more intelligently next time, which means learning from your mistakes and using your newfound knowledge to improve.

As with the only sure thing in life, no success is permanent and no failure lasts. This is a good thing because perpetual success leaves no room for growth or challenges, while knowing that failure ends leaves you hope that better times are sure to come.

Failing intelligently also means that when you get trampled by forces outside your control: you adapt.

Failure Enables Positive Growth

In order for you to maximize your potential, you have to be able to grow as a person, and there’s no better catalyst that does that than failure. You could even say that it’s failure’s specialty.

The good thing about failure is that it prompts changes that you wouldn’t have undergone had success happened. It might take you into a different direction than the one you envisioned, but whether the new course is better or not is entirely up to you.

If you’re the type to lose motivation after failing, then you might not be able to see the bigger picture in how you can steer a loss into a win.

Instead, what you should do is to overhaul your perspective. Analyze the things you need to improve on and be open to embark on a new path. Failure makes people uncomfortable and it should be that way. Otherwise, you’ll always be in your comfort zone, afraid to shake things up.

Failure Improves Your Planning Skills

fear of failure

Failure has a way of preparing you for what further lies ahead. Sometimes, you have to learn the lesson now so you don’t have to repeat it again at a more crucial time in the future.

In life and definitely in your career, you’re bound to encounter a lot of occasions that you may or may not be able to handle well.

It’s essential to plan for failure because you always need to have a backup of some sort. Planning for failure doesn’t mean you’re being pessimistic or defeatist about the future. Preparing for failure is wholly different from thinking you’re going to fail.

Planning for failure means looking at what the facts say, so you don’t make decisions that will further bring you down. Betting all your chips on just one specific outcome robs you of the different possibilities that can happen.

Although failing can be an intense emotional experience for many, planning after a failure means you’re being objective enough to assess where you went wrong and how you can get better from there. From there you can generate more valuable ideas and catch any potential errors in your future endeavors.

Failure Is An Opportunity To Humble Yourself

One of the pitfalls of success is that it feeds your ego. If left unchecked, you could lose sight of what made you successful in the first place or it clouds your vision so you’re not able to sustain your success.

This couldn’t be more evident in what happened to previous MMA Bantamweight Champion, Ronda Rousey, who in her last fights leading to the biggest upset in UFC, displayed the kind of arrogance and unsportsmanlike behavior that revealed her seemingly egotistical tendencies.

Months before her first ever loss, she already predicted what Holm’s tactic would be and vowed to not let her have her way. She ended up eating her words and lost the fight in such an astounding manner that no one ever saw coming. I think she gloated a tad too much and reveled in her triumphs a bit too lengthily that’s why she wasn’t able to translate her game plan to the octagon.

When you’re on the top of the world, it can be challenging to keep your head on the ground and not be a slave to it.

Failure then is the biggest equalizer of all. It might take years and years of hard work to come up, but only one mistake to bring you back down from where you started.

A Key Takeaway From Failure

Failure keeps you on your toes and it brings down seemingly invincible individuals just to show the world that at the end of the day, we’re all mortals who can rise and fall at a drop of a hat. Just knowing that failure is possible keeps you from being complacent.

Acknowledging that failure can happen also makes it easier to move on from it since you’re already prepared to deal with any resulting circumstances.

If you take into account all these reasons, you’ll realize that failure isn’t something to be feared—it’s something to be embraced in the right doses. As you expand your understanding and perspective of failure, you’ll be able to gain new insights that will allow you to build a much solid foundation for your future success. The kind that doesn’t crumble easily in face of life’s harshest obstacles.

No matter what kind of failure you’ve gone through, it will serve as a lesson you can always look back to.

So if the fear of failure is the only thing holding you back from making the leap to being self-employed, take that chance now and you’ll never have to look back for the rest of your life, pitifully regretting you didn’t make this choice.

Have ever had a crippling fear of failure? How have you managed it?

If you want to know how to pick a career path, you have to be able to consider the right things and make the right calls. Although most career decisions are never easy to make, consistently overriding your needs, wants, and aspirations can be problematic in the long run.

Whether your aim is to feel more fulfilled or to earn more, it’s important that you pick a career path that you resonate with.

The ideal, of course, is that everyone’s doing what they love to do and earning enough in the process, but we all know life doesn’t really work that way. Instead of making a halfhearted, random approach, there are a few approaches you can use to make deciding a bit easier for you. Read on to know more.

Don’t Just Be Rational

You’ve probably heard your share of the timeworn advice “be practical” when it comes to matters of livelihood.

However, there’s a flaw in this suggestion. Often, people think they’re doing you a favor by pointing you toward the established path. Maybe they think it makes more sense or maybe they’re just genuinely concerned about your welfare.

But the best advice should be able to reflect your inner wants and needs. So if an advice to you doesn’t have that, then it’s safe to say you’re better off keeping your own counsel.

Since how people see themselves is how they see the world, most advice given by anyone would be typically colored by his or her perspective. This rings true with any advice (even mine) so take into consideration how much of the other person’s input resonates with your own worldview.

I mean, would it make sense to get career advice from a financial manager if you plan on pursuing arts full-time? I think not. The financial manager, of course, would tell you to take a job that’s more financially viable in the long run.

Being rational is not just about making decisions that make the best sense, but also one that recognizes the context of the situation and your interest as well.

One of the reasons we were given a heart and mind is to use them both to make decisions that feel fair to us. Any option that leaves out one or the other usually leads to some kind of unrest—either personally or professionally.

See Risks as Opportunities

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How you see risks has an effect on business and work outcomes.

One example is how men and women see risks differently. In the study, 80% of women stated that they regard things that other would classify as risks to be opportunities while only 67% of men thought the same. 

This could be the reason why female-owned companies out-survive those owned by men in many industries as well as in large cities. Female business owners also have a much lower failure rate compared to male-owned businesses. And although 62% of male entrepreneurs in the study claimed that they’re businesses are doing well compared to just 42% of women, the ones owned by the latter group actually had a higher profit rate before taking taxes into account.

What this tells us is that our perception affects our actions. If you want to learn to be more adept at managing risks, you have to be open to all the good possibilities it can bring you.

Don’t Let the Fear of Failure Influence Your Choices

Your belief in yourself should trump your fear of failure.

Data has revealed that men are still twice as likely to start new businesses than women and that females were also less likely to become entrepreneurs.

This study sheds light on why this could be so. When women fail to reach their funding goal, they believed that they’re not cut out for entrepreneurship and proceed to quit thereafter. Male entrepreneurs, on the other hand, almost always tried again.

This is probably why females only comprise 28.8% of business owners in U.S. as reported by the Institute of Women’s Policy Research.

The key takeaway here is to not let failure get the best of you.

Even if you failed once, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll fail again.

In business, it’s important to know when to cut your losses, but you also have to balance this with an attitude of persistence. Don’t just quit the first time you lost. If you’re at a loss when to persevere and when to acknowledge that things are starting to get futile, you’ll only know the answer if you don’t quit at the first sign of failure.

Think Outside The Box

Startup Stock Photos
Startup Stock Photos

Your career path is not a one-way street. There’s no single, right procedure to doing things. Matter of fact, career decisions are not procedural—they’re contextual and this is why innovative thinking matters. A lot. 

But before you can think outside the box, you have to know first what’s inside the box.

What are the things that satisfy you? What kind of work can afford you the life you want to live? These are just some of the questions that can help you think of different career alternatives you can pursue.

Whatever course you decide on, know that different career paths offer an exceptional reward as long as you follow it with passion and commitment. It’s just that each direction requires distinct approaches and skills to be successful.

If you plan on making an unorthodox career move, you must have the confidence to follow through with it even if others may not understand or appreciate the decision you’ve made.

Thinking outside the box is about making connections with what you currently know and what you want to discover. It’s about seeing the opportunities in the unknown. It might probably also mean having a difficult time describing to others what you do or what you want to do.

Should you take it, the less traveled path offers a variety of purposeful challenges that might just lead you to the best career decision you could probably make.

Make Things Happen

One of my favorite adages is by Nora Roberts. In her widely acclaimed quote, she says that “If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.”

It struck a chord me because I used to be the kind of person who likes to wish. A lot.

Of course, wishing could only get you so far and at the end of the day, if you really desire to have a fulfilling career, you need to be able to do something—anything that can get you closer to the goal that you want.

The truth of the matter is, wanting something to happen so bad isn’t enough to actualize it. Don’t wait for luck or for opportunities and create them yourself.

This is known as being proactive. Research has shown that proactive individuals had higher levels of self-efficacy and higher levels of self-efficacy means being able to behave in a way that leads to the attainment of your goals. The more proactive you are, the higher the effort you put into your work.

This is why the only way to obtain the things you’ve always wanted means taking the daily steps necessary to make progress possible.

The effort and actions you’ve put in might seem small at the moment, but in the bigger scheme of things, it’s what makes your path to a more fulfilled career a possible, reachable goal.

Listen to Your Inner Voice

The Lilypad (1)

Most people have two inner voices—the negative one and the one who says the truth about what you want

It’s obvious who you should listen to.

Sometimes, people aren’t always able to recognize their own talents and desires. But your inner voice never forgets. Even if you manage to do a wholly different thing, your inner voice will always be there. Persuasively gnawing at your thoughts and feelings until it finally leads you to the thing you were really meant to do.

The only thing you have to do in order to aid your inner voice is to muster your confidence and take a chance to realize the message it’s telling you. Being bold has brought a lot of people good fortune (not just the material kind, mind you), not because they brashly enforced what they want, but they dared to be courageous enough to offer their value and vowed to get the same in return.

For some people who choose to ignore their inner voice, they often pay a steep price. Such is the case with a Korean woman I read on the news a few years back.

How Ignoring Your Voice Can Backfire For You

In Korea, respect and family play a big part in their culture to the point that parents have a say on virtually all major life decisions of their kids such as who to marry and what job to take. The woman in the story wanted to be a singer, but her extremely conservative parents wanted her to either be a doctor or lawyer—regarded as prestigious jobs of Korea’s older generation.

Unbeknown to them, she had been training for years with a music company alongside her med studies. A few years into her training, her parents got wind of her secret and made her choose—pursue your musical training and be disowned or drop it and retain her place in the family.

Like any dutiful daughter would do, she picked the latter choice. A few years after, the girl band she was supposed to join debuted and enjoyed a successful run.

Not long after, she was also in the news. Dead from an apparent suicide after having jumped 12 floors to the ground. She was 22. It was thought that she couldn’t handle the regret of having missed the opportunity to pursue her lifetime dream.

What Being Fulfilled Means

Being fulfilled isn’t just about the money. Having money is always well and good, but the end of the day, it’s hard to feel proud of your work when you feel like you’re in the wrong job with the wrong people.

Sometimes, the only way to feel fulfilled is to practice dignity.

Dignity is being true to your gifts. Dignity is making the right choice so you can live a quality life you’ve always yearned for.

Do you feel like your career decisions are fulfilling you as a person? Why or why not? Feel free to share in the comment section below.

F

reelancing is not for everybody. In the media, freelancing is often painted as an isolated way to work, since you’re technically a one-man ship doing all the light and heavy lifting yourself.

Despite this, introverts and extroverts have both found success in this vocation.

Whatever your social leaning in business or work is, being a freelancer presents a number of lessons we can all take advantage of.

With over 53 million self-employed people working in the US alone, it has been forecasted that the number of freelancers will grow to about 40% by the year 2020. That’s no modest figure because it means an increase of around 60 million people in total.

It’s no wonder why the industry’s growth is set to soar. As a result, today’s times have made it all the more convenient for people to utilize the present technology to suit their working needs and goals. Furthermore, many people realize that they want more than a life chained to their work desks. Add the fact that commuting takes up valuable time and energy.

Whether you’re on the fence about joining this evolving workforce or you’re a freelancer yourself, below are some crucial lessons everyone can benefit from.

1. “Empower yourself and realize the importance of contributing to the world by living your talent. ” – Catharina Bruns, Founder WorkIsNotaJob

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In a world that puts a premium on connections and security, it can be hard for many to shift the direction of their careers to a, more or less, uncertain, solitary journey. People who are self-employed have shown that taking risks and believing in yourself pays, even if it’s often just you at the helm.

It takes a certain kind of fortitude to be able to do the hard work now when the results seem so far away.

When you’re sending pitch after pitch every day with no response or when you’re fine-tuning a product day in and day out with no end in sight, it can seem that everything you’re doing now is pointless.

While for those who are going at it alone, it will test everything you know about yourself as well as your physical, emotional, and mental resources. And for the better. Once you get over the initial hurdles and start to establish your own rhythm, you’ll then realize that you’re more capable than you thought.

Most of all, going for the self-employed route gives you all the opportunity possible to be yourself and pursue the things that resonate with you. A privilege that many don’t get to enjoy fully in the course of their working career.

Although freelancers may work alone or overexert themselves, they’re better for it and like what they’re doing.

Millions of other people around the world have made the jump and are also working hard to sustain their passion. Don’t let your “solo entrepreneur” status hold you back if you really believe in your ideas and ability to see your vision to fruition.

2. “Don’t be afraid to assert yourself, have confidence in your abilities and don’t let the bastards get you down.” – Michael Bloomberg, founder Bloomberg L.P.

I know a fellow freelancer who’s very much in touch with her inner power.

She was a stickler when it comes to people she works with. She doesn’t accept clients who complained a lot or demanded infinite rewrites and only works with clients who accommodates suggestions from her. A lot of people thought it was a cheeky move since many of them believed that customer is king or that customers are always right.

Not for her, though. She says she’s not a beggar so she can be a chooser.

I definitely agree with her. I think the whole point of working for yourself is to give yourself more control over your environment—who you work with, how you spend your time, and what rates you accept. There are far and few jobs out there that can afford such freedom, so if you have that privilege it definitely makes sense to exercise it.

Once you become a freelancer, your power lies in having a say in where you want to steer your professional life.

Your time and energy are limited, valuable resources. No matter how much money you have, if you don’t have the time and energy to spend it then what use are those?

Power in this context means being able to design your life as you see fit.

You have the sole capacity to set your career’s direction and to aim as high as you want. You can take risks and experiment with different things in your line of work. Because the only person you have to be accountable to is yourself. As long as you wear your mistakes proudly and learn from your experiences, you’ll realize that failure only serves to lead you a step closer to success.

And that, ladies and gents, is true power.

3. “Don’t limit yourself. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.” – Mary Kay Ash, Founder Mary Kay Cosmetics

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There are people out there who usually think that people who have achieved their goals are able to attain them because of luck. This might be true to a certain extent, but no one can rely on their luck forever.

The only way to be “lucky” is to make your own luck and open yourself up to the different opportunities life offers.

The key thing to remember is, you won’t attain success if you’re not equipped to get it. One way to be equipped is to expand your comfort zone and discover new skills you never thought you’re capable of. Being in this industry offers an extensive range of job opportunities. No one can box you in without your consent. If you want to pursue a wholly different type of work than your last one, the only person holding you back is you.

Expanding yourself is just one piece of the puzzle. More than just finding opportunities, there’s also no other industry out there that lends more ease into creating opportunities as well.

If you’ve already made it on your own as a freelancer or solopreneur and want to take things to the next level, then you can do so at your own pace. Your growth is solely dependent on you and you can scale according to your needs and capabilities.

Manning a one-man ship is a tall order but life is never meant to be a smooth-sailing ride. The best you can do is to face new challenges head on and learn from whatever mistakes it might come with. So don’t be afraid, explore all the possible opportunities you can and turn them into a life-changing advantage.

4. “You shouldn’t focus on why you can’t do something, which is what most people do. You should focus on why perhaps you can, and be one of the exceptions.” – Steve Case, co-founder AOL

Focusing on what you can do puts the emphasis on how a problem can be solved. While focusing why you can’t do something is entertaining the negative emotions from the problem but doesn’t make the problem go away. According to this study, freelancers turn to the first approach more often than traditional employees.

For instance, you lost a big amount of money after a number of clients balked at potential projects with you, setting you back at least a few months worth of income. You then feel angry and frustrated to the point that you entertain the thought that maybe this is not something you can do.

This is an example of focusing on why you can’t. You might have made the first step, but you never addressed any lingering self-doubts you may have.

By focusing on why you can do something, you’re more apt to analyze the reason why you lost your clients and what you can do about it so it doesn’t happen again in the future.

The good thing about this approach is that it attempts to go directly to the root and solve the cause. Instead of wallowing in negative emotions that make you doubt yourself, take a break and assess any behavior that could’ve set the incident in place.

If the clients left because of something you did wrong, you can then come up with solutions that will prevent it from happening again.

Although everyone’s handles decisions differently, taking on a more proactive approach that prevents you from wallowing in regrets or defeatist notions is key to making it as an entrepreneur.

5. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs, Co-founder, CEO, Chairman Apple Inc.

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The legendary Steve Jobs couldn’t have said it better. Employees today spend a minimum of eight hours at work, despite the fact that productivity levels are at all-time low.

According to Gallup’s study that surveyed 142 countries, only 13% of employees worldwide are psychologically committed to their jobs and 63% are not engaged.

This means that a majority of the current workforce feels disconnected with their jobs. I personally think it’s a sad fact because I don’t think life is  meant to be lived so dispassionately. This reveals that many lack motivation in what they do for a living and just do it because they have to. The rest of 24% are more actively disengaged, meaning they’re unproductive and also unhappy with their job.

When you’re working toward a bigger personal goal you’ve always wanted, it can be much easier to feel more engaged with what you do. Being self-employed is one of the best avenues out there to make your personal dreams happen. Why? Because you’re the creator and the one in charge of steering your path to whichever way you feel best. A privilege that a 9 to 5 job may not always provide.

Any work that resonates with your values and overall aspirations in life helps you perform better. And when you perform better you churn out quality work that does wonders for your reputation and will naturally attract more clients along the way once you’re putting up your own business.

Are freelancers happier?

This study published in the Journal of Business Research stated that the self-employed people are happier than employees. People from 25 European countries took part in a survey that revealed the roles of creativity and autonomy play in job satisfaction levels.

It seems that the self-employed derive a certain sense of utility from their work, which may not always be present in regular employment.

Despite this, you don’t have to necessarily be a freelancer in order to find meaning and autonomy in your work. For some, all it takes is a little belief in your work and the ability to find aspects of it that you find enjoyable. Nonetheless, all of these lessons allow you to hone your adaptive instinct so you can keep moving ahead, whatever business or industry you’re in.

Key Takeaways

As I earlier said, not everyone fits the freelance lifestyle. Some like the benefits but are not willing to take the associated risks with it. That’s fine.

But if you know for yourself that you can handle the bad days and have ambitions of taking charge of your life then don’t let this chance slip by. It takes guts to be able to make the switch, but once you make it work, it’ll no doubt make you proud in yourself that you were able to face the uncertainties that many others can’t.

These are powerful skills to have which can help you achieve your goals no matter what they are.

Your future success is inextricably tied to the skills and perspectives you’ll be developing in your professional journey. So use these tips and join the ranks of thriving individuals who have found their life’s calling in freelancing.

What success tips can you share with other readers? Do you prefer being self-employed or being an employee?

Having a more fulfilling life is all about fine-tuning the meaning of success to a definition that reflects the most authentic you. There are people out there who are insanely rich but feel miserable on the inside. There are people who live plain, ordinary lives but are very much happy and content.

Additionally, there are also people out there who make an absurd amount of money, but save little to nothing at all.

On the other hand, there are people out there who make just enough but save a lot in the process.

There are also those who are already rich, but still retain a scarcity mindset while others live generously, despite their limited resources.

So who would you call successful?

The worst thing you could ever believe about career success is the narrow view that it only corresponds to raking in lots of cash or achieving Mark Zuckerberg-like fame. Of course, money and recognition matter in some way, but those are only parts of the equation.

If life was meant to be lived like a smooth-sailing ship, then there won’t be any exceptional sailors in the world.

Accepting the traditional views of success without determining its relevance to you robs you of the chance to fulfill your most authentic desires.

In a world where people come from different backgrounds with varying personalities and characters, it’s safe to say that it only follows that individuals will value distinct things in life. So why do many people buy into the notion that in order to do good in life, you have to follow the same path the majority of people is taking?

When you think about it, it all boils down to not assessing your own needs and desires.

The fact of the matter is, not a lot of people take the time out to assess and identify the things that will really matter to them in the long run. It’s a painstaking, demanding process to dig down deep within you especially when it confronts the truth you have always held about yourself. It also takes time and effort to know what kind of things will make you feel really fulfilled.

If success is nothing like what society tells you, then what else can define success? Below are some alternative metrics that may give you more satisfaction in the long run.

Success is Valuing Your Time More Than Money

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a survey performed in 2013 revealed that the average time worked per day in the US is 8.7 hours. Multiply 8.7 by 5 and that’s a total of 43.5 hours per week, which means 2262 hours per year spent just working.

This is how much you’re spending at the office and that’s not even counting all the overtime and commute time you put in. In whatever way you look at it, that’s a significant part of your life so if you have to ask yourself, would you rather be dedicating that much time building other’s dreams and fortune, or yours?

For me, I define success as having the freedom and autonomy to do what I want with my time to pursuits that are valuable to me.

Research has shown that thinking of time in terms of money actually reduces your state of happiness. This is probably why many people working at their jobs are unhappy and explains why people do things that don’t have any financial profit for them.

A Surprising Fact About What Motivates People

In this informative video about what motivates people, psychologists found out that money only works as an incentive when it comes to work that involves mechanical skills. However, this doesn’t always hold true when the work required the use of basic cognitive skills and actually led to much poorer performance.

This is contrary to what we’ve always thought about what drives people and the surprising thing is, they got the same results whether it be on a first or third-world country.

What this tells us is that money can only do so much for you. At a certain extent, happiness and satisfaction levels off after attaining a certain amount of wealth—you won’t likely be any happier or satisfied even if you earned more.

If you believe otherwise, it’s worth stopping and taking the time out to ask yourself whether you’re making money as the main reason behind your pursuit of success. If money is the only reason you’re forced to work at a grueling job that makes you absolutely unhappy, it might help to try to figure out a better use of your time that can also fulfill you simultaneously.

Success Means Being Able To Carve Your Own Path

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In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with working in a 9 to 5 job as long as that’s what you really want and it genuinely fulfills you. But if you don’t, don’t be afraid to go against the grain and take your life into an entirely new direction. There’s no pleasure and no meaning in following the norm when it’s not aligned to who you really are, because in the end, it would ultimately feel like you’re an impostor in your own skin.

You can put up a front at the onset, but sooner or later, your facade is bound to crack and this could potentially lead to future breakdowns.

Although it takes a few tries to know the right path for you, those who are willing to break a few rules along the way have an increased chance to succeed. Moreover, discovering your individuality also leads to a more innovative and proactive approach if you’re an entrepreneur.

Whether it means leaving a cushiony job to build your own startup, eschewing a family, or moving across the world to volunteer, the best way to success is one that matches your deepest, innermost desires.

However, paving your own path means you have to let go of control. The future will be uncertain, but that’s part and parcel of any kind of change. This unpredictability is what makes life interesting. Embrace it and let it teach you things you’ve never known before.

Success Is Not Just About Talent

People put a lot of premium on talent, but the thing is, a potential not actualized is still worth nil. Talent alone never made anyone successful, and if it did, it wouldn’t have been sustainable in the long run. Why? Because talent needs work and no matter how talented you are, if you don’t show up or back it with actions then you’ll always be the “might-have-been.”

There have been a lot of studies that proved that personality matters more than talent when it comes to success. A longitudinal study published a few years back has stated that it’s conscientiousness and emotional stability that lead to better job satisfaction and job income.

When you work hard and strive to remain calm in the face of personal or professional pressures, then you’re increasing your chances to succeed.

An acquaintance of mine posted a story on his social media account where his assistant told him that he was talented, but his laziness is hampering his own success. The incredulous thing is that he was even proud of it and valued the seeming promise of his talent more than what he could do with it.

It’s a shame that some people get stuck on possibilities when they could be making things happen.

The True Measure of Success

Out in this world, you are measured by what you do and the results you deliver. No matter how big your potential is, the outcome is still what would prove your mettle. In short, you need to be able to show something with what you have.

There are also other factors of success that are much more important than talent, which renowned success expert Richard St. John elaborates on his TED talk below. In his talk, he revealed eight traits that lead to success—a result of a research he undertook over the course of a decade with the world’s most successful people in different fields as his participants. In the eight traits, he mentioned, the talent was absent.

It’s  passion, hard work, focus, persistence and as well as being oriented toward service, improvement, and pushing yourself that spells success.

So don’t get hang up on talent as the best, single factor that could aid you on your way to success. Take a more holistic approach and utilize all aspects of yourself to achieve the things you’ve always wanted for yourself, because this is what would serve you the most in the long run.

Success Is Not Formulaic

The potential scope of what success can mean is wide.

Although there are a lot of traits, outcomes, and materials equated with success, the truth is that every person is different and everyone needs to carefully fine-tune their own definition of success.

I’ve tried to mention a few perspectives that you might want to associate with success, but these should just serve as tools that you can use to guide you on your path. Common sense dictates that no matter how good your tools are, that still won’t necessarily make you a great carpenter.

To make use of these tools to the best of your abilities, you have to remember that success is not about what others see, but how you feel.

You might have all the accolades, the money, or the fame you’ve ever wanted, but if it doesn’t resonate to what you really need then it won’t be worth a scrap to your value.

What’s your perspective on success? Do you agree or disagree with the above points?