Everyone reading this post has benefited from experiencing a psychological shift in the past. Think back to the time you realized you really could float in water, ride a bike, or do math homework by yourself. One minute, you didn’t believe it was possible… the next minute, you were doing it, and couldn’t imagine your life without it!
The longer I freelance, the more deeply I understand that your psychological and emotional state has more to do with your success in business than pretty much anything else.
How you talk about yourself, your work, and your clients will determine how much you can charge, who will work with you, and who you will want to work for. It’s all inter-connected, and — the best news of all — it’s all malleable according to the information you consume and the habits you practice.
So, today I’d like to share my favorite four (actionable) attitude adjustments that can help you be more efficient in the psychological and emotional side of freelancing.
“Make your choice the best one.”
This story had me absolutely speechless when I first read it. First, because it was actually a piece of good advice coming from a crappy Self or Women’s Health-style magazine. Second, because I knew right away that it was a powerful lesson for my career and life in general.
The story goes something like this: a woman was a creative director in charge of the cover of a large women’s magazine like Cosmo or Vanity Fair. Every month she’d have to choose two final covers from a set of several covers, and eventually choose one cover out of the two final options.
When the time came to choose between two covers — let’s say a green one and a gray one — it’s not like she could make a bad choice. Both covers had a lot of work go into them from the finest photographers and stylists in the industry. Both had pros, both had cons. It was almost certainly a 50-50 split.
So, what she did next was genius: she picked one. And then she made it the best one by the way she talked about it.
The cover could have been green or grey. But she chose green. And you know why? Because the timing of the magazine was spring and green is a very spring color. Green also plays up the color of the magazine font, making it easier to read. Green was also the color of one of the featured outfits inside the article, and hey, five years ago we also did a green cover so it would be a nice throwback.
We all make choices every. Single. Day. Decide that the choice you’ve made is indeed the best one, even if you could have chosen differently. Then, magically, it will actually become the better choice!
All of these reasons for picking a green cover are true — but they are also not true; they could easily have been reasons for the grey cover to be the chosen one. It’s all in how you present it and carry out your decision.
Use This In Your Business
We make choices in our businesses every. Single. Day. But sometimes we also get caught up in worrying about whether or not a choice was a good one, or, if something bad happens, we think back to that choice and start doubting ourselves.
Forget all that. When you make a choice, decide that the choice you’ve made is indeed the best one, even if you could have chosen differently. Then, magically, it will actually become the better choice!
Own it. Don’t dally with the decision and wring your hands after you make it. Once you’ve decided (assuming there’s no threat to your business or you don’t receive new information and need to make a new decision) make your decision the best one by the way you talk and think about it after the fact.
“Level the playing field.”
Another psychological minefield in business is the art of competitive advantage. For many of us, we read a writer’s bio and get intimidated at their degree, their school, their experience, or their press photo. We think through all our weaknesses — being sick, being new at this, coming from a completely different career background — and we talk ourselves out of being confident because there’s so many other people out there doing this freelance thing.
The things you think are downsides can actually be positives if you position them correctly.
Well, there’s good news: it’s all in your mind! The things you think are downsides can actually be positives if you position them correctly. It’s just a matter of deciding to level the playing field in your mind and turn your perceived negatives into obvious positives.
Use This In Your Business
Whatever you’ve got, own it. Position it as an advantage, because once you do so, it is an advantage.
Do you have children at home? You’ll be an especially attractive option for clients who also have children at home. You can identify with them and be extra flexible when scheduling meetings (or having meetings with screaming babies in the background). Don’t apologize for that or try to downplay that fact — embrace it and your clients will follow your lead.
Do you have experience outside of writing, such as teaching or account management? Then you have a diversified background and can help your clients educate their audience or give their clients a better experience on the corporate side. Don’t harp on your lack of applicable experience — explain how you’ll use that experience to deliver the highest quality project now.
We’re all unique little snowflakes, and that uniqueness can be translated into a competitive advantage if you only choose to position it that way.
I could easily scare clients off by talking about being a teacher, an editor, and a writer in my past life. Or I could weave it into an About Me page that brings all of those careers into the context of being a seasoned writer with agency and government contracting experience. We’re all unique little snowflakes, and that uniqueness can be translated into a competitive advantage if you only choose to position it that way.
“‘Busy’ = Wasting Time.”
Let’s just drop the mic with this quote from UC Berkeley’s Christine Carter:
“Busyness is not a marker of intelligence, importance, or success. Taken to an extreme, it is much more likely a marker of conformity or powerlessness or fear.”
This is a message we all need to get over and over again: busy means you’re spinning your wheels and you don’t actually know what you’re doing. It’s not a sign of progress or growth or success. It’s just plain time mismanagement mixed with bad boundaries (AKA I can’t say no to anything, so I don’t feel like I am making progress on my real priorities).
Instead of viewing busyness as a sign of significance, top performers interpret busyness as an indication of wasted energy and they’re doing everything they can to stop it. But the trick is actively making this psychological shift from “busy” to “priorities and non-priorities.”
Use This In Your Business
The next time you write, think, or say “I’m sorry, I’ve been so busy lately…” stop. Think about what’s really happening and what you’re actually doing with your time. Use language that matches what you’ve really been doing and stop using busy as a bucket of paint that white washes you from responsibilities. If you stop using busyness as an excuse, you’ll start evaluating why you feel so busy… and hopefully take some steps to eliminate that sense of frenzy from your everyday.
If you stop using busyness as an excuse, you’ll start evaluating why you feel so busy… and hopefully take some steps to eliminate that sense of frenzy from your everyday.
“Decide you will.”
You know that really big issue you’ve been struggling with for the past 6 months? The one that, in a movie version of your life, would be the hero’s great “Will She Or Won’t She” plot point? Let me blow your mind (courtesy, I think, of Steve Slaunwhite, Pete Savage, and Ed Gandia’s book The Wealthy Freelancer):
Decide you will.
Yes, that’s right. Decide right now that you will make it through this plot point, achieve that big goal, whip this problem into shape. That the conflict is over. The battle has been won. You’re on the path for victory, you just need to keep following it.
(And by the way, Christians have an extra easy time of it with this one — not just our business, but life itself has been won for us already. We just need to get to a place where we feel that way and act accordingly!)
Use This In Your Business
This concept has been incredibly effective with helping me handle stress, particularly the religious side of it. That huge tax bill that already came in? I definitely got a whiff of “Will I or won’t I be able to pay this off!” when in reality, of course! I am already paying it off, it will be paid off, it is done. Next problem, please?
More often than not, it’s not the problem itself that holds us back — it’s the tension of wondering whether or not we’ll make it through.
But so often it’s not the problem itself that holds us back — it’s the tension of wondering whether or not we’ll make it through. Answer this question for yourself today: you will. And then go get some work done!
Sharing Is Caring
I can’t be the only one out here learning the tough lessons. If you have a psychological shift that’s helped you work through some business challenges, be a pal and share it in the comments below!
P.S. Heavy promotions for the Make $150 an Hour Writing course start soon, which means the $100 off coupons are going to be snapped up faster than you can say “gone fishin’.” If you’re tired of the grind and want to position your business to work on your terms, download the course summary today to see how I used simple, solid writing skills to boost my income from $35 to $150+ an hour.