Confidence Training Wheels

Confidence Training Wheels

Guest post by Marysia Wójcik

Six months ago, I traded in my steady salaried job with benefits to start freelancing full time as a writer and editor. I gave notice at work, said goodbye to my colleagues, and outfitted my new standing desk with a small plant and some office supplies.

I’d always wanted to do something like this, and I figured that giving myself a fresh slate would give me the energy and motivation to make the most of this opportunity.

But at the same time, I didn’t feel ready. Despite my experience as a writer, despite knowing that writing more is the best way to hone my skills and that pitching more is the best way to find new clients, I just couldn’t bring myself to start.

For the first few months of really running my own business, rather than writing or finding clients in earnest, I spent my days reading about how to be a freelance writer. I joined all the Facebook groups. Found all the podcasts and webinars and free email courses available.

I was in a rabbit hole of false productivity, where one useful-looking article led me to another and another and another until I’d realize it was 8 pm, I had thirty tabs open that I still wanted to get through, and I hadn’t actually done anything to advance my business.

It’s not that learning is unimportant. Studying others’ successes and failures is a critical part of staying current in an always-evolving economy. But at this point, I was spending hours reading through half-helpful advice, which usually sounded exactly like the last three articles I’d seen, on the off-chance that I would find… I’m not sure what, exactly. That one life-changing tip? A quick fix? The permission to believe in myself?

At the same time, I didn’t want to miss out in case that next article would give me a groundbreaking idea, or that latest Facebook conversation would lead me to my ideal client.

It’s the same fear that comes up when minimizing or decluttering your home. Sure, I already have a perfectly good garlic press, but what if I’m in a life-or-death situation one day where I need this old rusted-out one? What if this one tip actually will bring me the confidence I need and make my business take off?

The only real fix was acting on the knowledge that freelancing is a numbers game. That the more people I reached out to, the more places I pitched, the more ideas I generated and wrote about, the better my chances of success.

I had to stop asking for someone else to give me permission, to pat me on the head and tell me I was good enough. This, of course, is an ongoing journey, and I can’t say I’m anywhere near the finish line yet.

But I have implemented one tool that is helping me out in the meantime ‒ a set of confidence training wheels if you will.

I created a For Later folder in my browser’s bookmarks bar. If I catch myself opening tab after tab seeking an ever-elusive answer to a question I’m not even asking, I just put it into this folder. It’s now full of sites that don’t fit my current niche but I might want to pitch in the future, free but dubious-looking webinars that promise a 10X revenue increase, copywriting courses, and DIY projects I’ll honestly never attempt.

When I know I’ve saved the piece for later, I’m less tempted to read it right now when I should be doing one of a million other things instead. I don’t have to worry that I’ll lose the information ‒ because I won’t. It’s right there in that folder. Without the immediacy of not wanting to miss out, I don’t have that need to read the article right now.

Will I ever actually go back to those resources?

Maybe. Maybe not.

But without the immediate terror of missing out on something important, I can turn my attention back to what I’m supposed to be doing.

There are a lot of interesting-looking pieces saved, sure, and I don’t want to lose them just yet.

But for now, I’ve got more important things to do.

Marysia Wojcik is a freelance content writer and editor in Alberta, Canada. You can see more of her work on her website or say hi to her on Twitter.

One thought on “Confidence Training Wheels

  1. “Without the immediate terror of missing out on something important, I can turn my attention back to what I’m supposed to be doing.”
    I loved your line. It is very similar to (the meaning) of something I wrote three years ago.
    As follows, I wrote,
    “STAY FOCUSED! Keep your ATTENTION on your INTENTION!”
    Written by LorettaLNewall, Jan/2016

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