The Successful Freelancer Mindset: Taking the Fear Out of Failure


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

make way

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?

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Also published on Medium.


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