November 5

6 ways to stop thinking about those bastards who are trying to sabotage your career

paranoidRemember the old joke? I might be paranoid, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t out to get me. It’s a freelancer’s lament. You know you’re thinking too much, but you can’t stop worrying that you screwed up. Alone in your office, there’s no evidence to the contrary. Your failures are epic and the villains loom large.

But take it from me, as someone who has hired and worked with many freelancers, your work is brilliant, your jokes are très amusant and that hat… saucy! No one discussed your overly long and defensive response to the question about your rate, and no one noticed the gross snail-shaped stain on the seat of your pants.

Truth? You are barely discussed. And unless you are  constantly reminding clients you exist, you may even be forgotten. So you didn’t screw up. They lost work. They hired someone full time. They’re reusing past content. Whatever.

Freelancers are easily dispensable – that’s the whole point! This inherent lack of commitment is why you must inure yourself to the tyranny of an unringing phone and learn the gentle ways of staying present in your clients’ minds.

So give yourself a slap. If you are going to stay sane, you need perspective.

  1. Get out of your head

If you are dissecting every conversation you’ve ever had with your client and trying to figure out where you went wrong, you are thinking too much. Stop it. Just stop it.

  1. Get out of your house

Time to get out of your head and into the world. Sign up for yoga or kung fu. You are spending too much time obsessing about money, flyers and websites.

  1. Do volunteer work

What better way to stop thinking about you than to think about others? It’s guaranteed to give you perspective. Bonus, you’ll meet other humans and have actual conversations.

  1. Call them, for god’s sake

Just ask them why you haven’t heard from them. Seriously, send them an email or pick up the phone. You will be glad you did.

  1. Call someone else

Or contact prospective clients, just to say hello and remind them you exist. Stay top of mind and you’re the first one they call.

  1. Do something you love

Paint, go skeet shooting, visit your grandmother. When negative thoughts are winning, fight them by doing things that make you happy. Me? I love talking to you.

Once you’ve gained a little perspective consider this: it’s not about you, unless it is. Maybe your rates are too high or you’re lacking in confidence. Who knows? But here’s the thing – you can’t solve it by yourself, so stop dwelling. Ask someone you trust, like a colleague, a life coach or a client even.

Either way, get out of your head. It’s nasty in there.