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I’ve wanted to work for myself for as long as I can remember. I’ve been fired twice, laid off twice, and have always struggled to connect with people in leadership positions at the jobs I worked at. And I think it’s because I always knew I was meant to be my own boss.
But for years, I hesitated.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was afraid of running out of money or never making enough. And more than anything, I didn’t really believe I could do it.
When I was unexpectedly laid off from my last job, I decided to take up freelancing to bridge the gap until I got a new full-time job. I had a friend who needed some help with her business, so she brought me on for a few projects. Then, a friend of mine connected me with her dad, who needed some help with his company’s social media. Then another friend connected me with someone whose company needed some social support. Suddenly, I was juggling clients and starting to make money!
Through all of this, I struggled with imposter syndrome. I was terrified of raising my rates because I didn’t believe my work was worth that much. I didn’t even believe I knew what I was talking about (even though, hello, I have been working in this industry for over 5 years!), and I worried my clients would find out I was a fake and cancel our contract or refuse to pay me for my work.
None of that happened.
What actually happened was they loved my work and asked me to create more of it.
Of course, sometimes there was feedback. Sometimes that feedback challenged me. Sometimes that feedback made me feel insecure and begin to doubt myself. But that feedback also helped me learn and get to know my client’s expectations better. And eventually, I began to trust myself more. And my clients began to refer me to others.
I began to shift my mindset from one of fear and self-doubt, to one of capability and abundance. And you can too!
If you are hoping to start a freelance business so you can quit your 9-to-5 job, the first step is believing that you can.
Here’s how to shift your mindset from “I can’t” to “I was born to”:
The first step to overcoming a limiting belief is to recognize it.
Next time you catch yourself saying, “I can’t” or “ I’m afraid” or “I have to,” stop yourself and acknowledge that belief as a thought that holds you back from tapping into your true awesomeness.
Get your friends involved too! Ask them to help you out by paying attention and stopping you when you say something that sounds limiting.
Write a new story
Homework time. If you’re really serious about changing your thinking and writing a new story for yourself, you have to put in the work.
So you’ve gotta take it to your journal. Take some time to write down all of the limiting beliefs you are experiencing, like “I am not good enough at what I do to start a freelance business” or “I can’t charge more money because I don’t have enough experience.”
Cross them out. Write a new story.
“I am an expert at what I do and I am ready to use those skills to build my freelance business and help more clients benefits from my knowledge and talent.”
“I can raise my rates because I am experienced in my field and my clients will value my input.”
“I am a successful business owner with a wide range of happy clients who love working with me.”
Visualize the ideal picture of future-you and write her story. Write the story of the person you want to be, the person you aspire to be, or the version of yourself you know you will one day become.
I know. Affirmations are cheesy as f*ck. But they really work! Affirmations work by “tricking” the subconscious mind into believing things the conscious mind may not. Eventually, the conscious mind gets on board and starts to believe it too. For years, my conscious mind told me I wouldn’t be able to run my own business. I told myself I was too carefree, too disorganized, not good enough with math (like, in 2019, really?), and not disciplined enough.
When I was finally in a place where I was forced to freelance and it was starting to work for me, I still needed to convince myself I could do it for real. I began to repeat out loud, either to myself or to my friends, and even to recruiters offering me job opportunities:
“I am committed to making freelancing work full-time,”
“I am working for myself now and it’s going really well,”
and “Freelancing is going great and I am making great money doing it!”
Think about what’s holding you back. What limiting beliefs do you need to work through?
Not sure what to say to yourself? Find some examples of positive affirmations here.
Jump in with both feet
The reality is, you’re never going to feel ready.
And no matter how many people tell you that you’re ready, you have to believe it yourself. No one is going to hold your hand.
You just have to start. Look at every little mistake is a learning opportunity.
Maybe you picked a colour palette and you don’t like it anymore? That’s okay. Just pivot. Or you took on a client but now it’s taking up way too much time and you’re realizing you charged too little. Ah well, now you know better for next time.
You’re never going to learn these things if you don’t jump in with both feet.
Sometimes you just having to f*cking start.
4 ways to recover when you find out you didn’t get the job
You spent hours on your application, nailed that phone screen, hustled your way into an in-person interview, and … got rejected? It’s a crappy feeling, but we’ve all been there. Interviewing, not unlike dating, requires putting your best, most polished self forward and hoping the other person accepts you as you are. And when they don’t, it can hurt. But that doesn’t mean you should give up. You’re too smart, too talented, and quite frankly, spent too much time customizing your resume for it all to go to waste on one company that wasn’t the right fit. Here are my four tips for recovering when you find out you didn’t get the job:
After you get that call, it’s okay to be blue for a bit. Rejection hurts and you shouldn’t try to pretend it doesn’t. Take the weekend to be disappointed, but don’t mope around for too long: there’s still money to be made and dreams to be realized!
Don’t take it personally
One of my favourite quotes goes something like, “Nothing other people do is because of you.” This applies for job interviews, but is actually really freeing when you apply it to all areas of your life. Just remember, they were looking for something really specific. Not just that company, but that specific hiring manager. And just because you didn’t tick all of their boxes, doesn’t mean you won’t tick someone else’s.
Take some time to reflect
First thing’s first: ask for feedback. If they don’t provide you with a reason why they went in another direction, don’t be afraid to politely request some feedback on what they were looking for or how you can improve for next time. Without beating yourself up about it, take some time to think about where you could have gone wrong. Maybe you didn’t speak enough about your (many) accomplishments (women especially find this hard to do), or maybe you got too confident and didn’t do enough research into the role, or maybe you made an off-base joke and by the time you noticed, it was already out of your mouth. These things are a natural part of the interview process and can happen easily when nerves are abound. Take them as learning experiences, remember them for next time, and let them go.
Don’t give up
Taking over the world won’t happen overnight. So don’t let one setback hold you back from getting out there and making it big. So it was your dream job? There’ll be more. If you limit yourself to one path or one potential, you could be missing out on a whole other world of opportunity (or lots of them!). Dust off your boots and get back on the horse, because there’s so much more waiting for you (you just might not see it yet).
And why there’s no right way to measure success
A coworker once asked me what my five-year plan was. I laughed and said, “My five-year plan is to come up with a five-year plan.” It’s been five years and I still don’t have a plan.
A year after that, I went on a yoga retreat in the Argentinian countryside. Part of the retreat included a workshop on goal-setting. One of my goals was to set some goals. *cough* I decided that defining “success” in my own terms would help me lay out my five-year plan. I wrote down that I wanted to be creative every day, travel often, and make enough money to not have to worry.
You see, I always knew I wanted to be “successful” but I never really had a clear vision of what that meant. I knew I wanted to make enough money to be able to travel as often as I wanted, but I had no idea what that would look like or what I even wanted to do. I knew success meant hard work, which I was never afraid of. I watched my dad work seven days a week when we were growing up, so I thought that’s what it took, and that was okay with me.
In my early twenties, my dream was to work in the music industry. I pictured my “successful” older self as a frazzled exec at a record label, running around with two cellphones and working crazy hours. Later, I saw my older self as traveling freelance writer, roaming from one glamorous destination to the next. Now? I work a 9-to-5. It’s not in music and I am not traveling the world. But I’m creative every day, I have vacation days that allow me to travel often, and I am finally making enough money that I don’t have to stress (as much) about when my next paycheque comes.
The point of this little essay is that success doesn’t need to be measured in any one, clear way. Instead, it can be formed based on a feeling, or on how you want your life to look. I’m not even close to being rich. My job doesn’t require me to travel the world. And I sure as hell don’t feel like I’ve “made it” yet. But sometimes reflecting allows you to realize how far you have come, and I think the 25-year-old girl journaling at that Argentinian yoga retreat would say I am pretty damn successful.
The 4 steps I’m taking to pay off my credit card debt
Well, the cat’s out of the bag. I have debt. Not just student debt, but credit card debt. And I’ve been carrying it with me for almost ten years. I’m not ready to share the exact amount just yet, but between my student debt and my credit card debt, I’m looking at over $30 000 in the red.
All this time, I had never understood why it was so important to save, invest, and to live debt-free. No one ever really told me. I thought that investments and home ownership came with a lifestyle I never wanted (flower child alert), so I didn’t bother to learn about anything to do with personal finance. Instead, I lived outside my means, took trips I couldn’t afford, and dug myself into a financial hole. After recently receiving a salary increase, I decided it was time to do something with this money and—er— maybe try to pay off my damn credit card.
It hasn’t been easy, but here’s how I’m doing it:
I got serious
First and foremost, you have to make it a priority. For years, I never really thought about the consequences of using a credit card and keeping it maxed. I never valued savings, credit scores, or the idea of someday owning a home. I didn’t think I wanted “that life” so I never cared to take control of my finances. Now that I’m almost 30 and moving into a new phase of my life, I’m realizing how much money, time, and stress I wasted in my early twenties and how much better my life would be if I had more money to spend on saving and investing—and less to put towards credit card payments.
I got educated
Once I decided to get serious, I knew I had to get educated. I really never took the time to learn about anything money-related, because I had always convinced myself I was bad at math and bad with money. Now that I’ve opened my eyes and made the dedicated decision to prioritize my money, I have been scrolling blog posts, listening to podcasts, and reading books to learn all about personal finance, why it’s important to pay off debt, and how to do it. By immersing yourself in the world of personal finance, you’ll learn the lingo and eventually begin to feel confident in the financial decisions you make and how you manage your money. Check out “Get Money” by Kristin Wong and “You are a Badass at Making Money” by Jen Sincero to start (they helped me!).
I got organized
Organize your income, expenses, and budget in whatever way works best for you. Some people like spreadsheets, others keep a money journal. I’ve been using Mint.com lately and since I finally took the time to learn how to use it properly (doy), I’ve found it extremely helpful, if for nothing other than an eye-opener. Once I had my monthly budgets sorted out correctly, I realized exactly how much money I have been spending on food every month and exactly how huge that number is. Having a visual or written way to track your money will serve as a huge wake-up call in where your money goes and will guide you in how to cut back.
I got goals
It’s insane to me to think that for almost ten years, I never had a financial goal. I was so worried about making rent each month and keeping any income coming in, that I never stopped to think about paying off my credit card, tackling that student debt, or saving for big purchases (or you know, my future). Now that I have clear goals in mind, I’m focusing first on paying off my credit card, then will simultaneously work on paying down my student debt (which is still in interest-free status) while contributing to my RRSPs. When I think about the extra money I’ll have every month that won’t be going towards credit card payments, I get giddy with excitement. Because of that, I’m also allowing myself a savings fund for upcoming travel, which I’ll start after my credit card is paid off. Plus, those little trips give me something to motivate me to stick to it!