Do you suffer from imposter syndrome?
You aren’t alone. All freelancers face imposter syndrome at multiple times in their careers.
Why do you feel this way?
There are a lot of reasons. The problem with imposter syndrome is the symptoms aren’t logical.
You are not an imposter. You have the skills, you know how to do the work, and you have a history of clients happy with your results.
So why do you have imposter syndrome?
I’ll let you in on a secret. You can’t shake the feeling because it isn’t logical.
If you want to know:
1:Why you suffer from imposter syndrome
2:The three common imposter syndrome triggers
3:How you can fix it
The Startling Truth Behind Imposter Syndrome
To understand imposter syndrome you need to understand what causes it.
Hint-It’s your brain.
Your brain craves authority. That’s why you are more comfortable staying at a high stress job than making the same money freelancing.
Don’t believe me? Ask yourself this. Have you justified staying at a job you didn’t like by saying,
‘It’s all I know.’
‘The problem you know is better than the one you don’t.’
Isn’t it startling to see thoughts you felt only you suffered brought out into the open?
Here’s the thing, when you work for a regular job everything is programmed for you.
You show up. You work from this time to this time. You do this thing today. You don’t have to do anything but work. The burden of making choices is lifted freeing you from distraction.
Now that we know the culprit behind why you have imposter syndrome, and the reason your brain makes you feel that way, let’s look at the three triggers that cause you to feel like an imposter.
The 3-Imposter Syndrome Triggers
In my experience (both personally and with students) there are three things that trigger imposter syndrome.
Trigger 1:Choice Paralysis
When you work at a job all of your choices are made for you. When you work for yourself you have to make all the choices.
*How much work you do
*When you work
*When to break
*Where you work
*How to dress when you work
A lack of boundaries can be overwhelming. You try to solve this with logic. You lose yourself ing blog posts and books on solutions only to realize there is so much you don’t know that you freak out.
With the solution below you no longer have to freak out.
Trigger 2:Down Time
At your regular job, you had plenty of downtimes. You enjoyed it because you knew at some point you’d be given work.
As a freelancer, you’ll have downtime but instead of enjoying it you get freaked out.
‘I’m not doing anything right now. I’m a failure. I don’t have clients. I don’t have work!
The truth is jobs waste a lot of time. They have to. They have to justify keeping people in a building with little work all day.
To combat these issues jobs fill the days with memos, endless meetings, and useless training. Don’t worry, as you get accustomed to freelancing you’ll realize you can fit an entire day’s labor in two to three hours.
Trigger 3:The Feast And Famine Cycle
With a job you never have to worry where the next project was coming from.
As a freelancer, you are responsible for creating an endless stream of leads. If you don’t have experience with this you’ll see dips in your work.
These periods when you are without work inspires doubt. You feel like you will never get work again.
It’s an awful feeling. You watch your bank account shrink while your inbox sits empty. Your clients don’t respond to your proposals and you worry you’ll go broke.
Emotionally you freak out so you turn to other logical resolutions. You read blogs, books, and suddenly you’ve wasted all day reading about how to drive leads instead of driving them.
You can escape the imposter syndrome cycle by changing how you respond to it. Here’s what I’ve found to work.
How I Overcome Imposter Syndrome
You can enjoy being a freelancer! You can do it without the anxiety, time wasted chasing pointless leads, and taking jobs you don’t work for pay you don’t like.
You can do this using my ‘Habit Mastery’ technique. This technique is based on years of research done on habits. If you want to get deeper into the insights of why it works you should pick up Charles Duhigg’s book on habits. Here
This technique works on two levels. First it cuts out the exposure to the triggers that cause it. Second, it changes your mindset when you do feel it.
What if you aren’t a full-time freelancer? Does this still apply?
Yes! This approach works for both part timers and full-timers.
Here’s What You Do
Open up Google Calendars (or your planners if you are old school paper and pen) and plan out your week.
Get specific. Write the time you plan to start, the time you plan to stop when you plan to have lunch, when you will work, when you will research, when you will pitch, when you will take meetings, and where you plan to do.
That’s it. If it sounds simple…It’s because it is.
By providing the structure your brain craves you alleviate the need to make decisions in the moment. Controlling your day lifts the burden of uncertainty and cognitively engrains positive habits into your day.
Why This Works:The Power Of Habits
Establishing and following this habit engrains the behavior of being the boss into your mind.
Habits change your story. So change yours.
What about those times when you feel like an imposter anyway?
You won’t. As this habit becomes established the feeling will lessen and eventually go away.
Creating the habit of being an entrepreneur changes the story you tell yourself. You are no longer a freaked out part timer skipping gig to gig hoping that your clients don’t drop you.
You quite worrying about the day to day and start planning towards bigger goals. You become an entrepreneur.
Re-Cap:Use authority to create order, establish a habit, and tell a better story.
Wonder If The Bad Press About Agencies Is True
Should agencies should be part of your story?
‘No! Everyone says they suck.’
Check out my next blog post. In it I cover the pros and cons of working for an agency and lay bare the biggest myths on both sides. You might learn that agencies are right for you!
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