Finding the confidence to make the leap

Now hopefully clearer on what your freelance work or business will focus on, it’s time to muster the confidence within yourself to believe that this can – and will – happen. With tips and exercises from a career coach and a series of freelancers and entrepreneurs, you’ll soon be brimming with confidence and self-esteem. It’s all about mindset.

One of the most common barriers I come across when talking to women about making the move from employment to self-employment is confidence. They’re desperate to do it, but just don’t think they’ll succeed. Or feel scared to hand in their notice. Or worry that they won’t earn enough money. And these are all perfectly normal concerns.

But with the right guidance, they can be overcome.

My own ‘freelance mum’ journey started with low confidence. I had a tiny baby (well, she was quite a big fat baby, actually – but I mean young) and no job to return to after ‘maternity leave’. Each day, as she snoozed in the bouncer, I’d take to the internet and search for jobs that I could do from home. Really, I knew I wanted to be a freelance writer but I didn’t have the confidence to admit that.

So instead, I looked into doing transcription, being a virtual assistant and loads of other work-from-home jobs. And there was nothing wrong with those jobs but they weren’t what I wanted to do. Eventually, I admitted to myself that my dream was to write articles (books felt like a long way off but that dream was definitely there too, in the background). And once I’d taken this first step – getting clear on what I wanted to do – all I needed was the confidence to make it happen.

Before I felt able to tell the world that I was now going to be a full-time (alongside motherhood) journalist, I wanted to put out feelers. I pitched a few article ideas to a parenting magazine that I liked and the editor asked me to go ahead and write them up. There wasn’t a fee but I just wanted the practice. That someone liked my writing enough to publish it – even if it wasn’t a paid gig – was all I needed at that time. I’d written plenty of articles before that but never about parenting, as I hadn’t been one until then.

But also, the identity crash that many new mums experience shouldn’t be diminished. Going from (probably) working full-time, to being mum to your baby – even more full-time – takes some getting used to. We’re often sleep deprived. Many of us question ourselves. This is why having a career change after having children can feel really daunting. We’re getting used to our new role as mum, and can’t always see how career fits in now. So quietly testing the waters, by getting back into writing, gave me my first little confidence boost.

I shared those articles on social media and slowly, people started to see that I was now writing about parenting stuff.

Once I’d had a few articles published, I thought: what have I got to lose? I can carry on pitching article ideas – sometimes being commissioned, often being rejected – or do nothing and earn no money and panic. Whether you’ve lost your job doing pregnancy/maternity leave or have decided you don’t want to go back, you too have nothing to lose by trying out a new path. Two quotes that spring to mind when I think about facing fears and doing something that feels big and scary are as follows….

In Sheryl Sandberg’s (not perfect but quite inspiring) book Lean In, she says that whenever she feels doubt slipping in, she asks herself:

What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?

It’s so easy to hold back from new opportunities, to turn down offers, to say no. And it’s totally fine to do all those things if that’s what you want. But if an opportunity arises that feels really exciting and yet you find yourself questioning whether or not you want to do it, try asking yourself what you’d do if you weren’t afraid.

The other quote is by Samuel Beckett, from his 1983 story Worstword Ho!:

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” 

It’s a reminder that you can only fail if you’ve tried. And that it’s good to try. And it doesn’t matter if you ‘fail’. Because you can try again and fail again and fail even better. Our society celebrates success and achievement but for every hugely successful person, there will be so many rejections and perceived failures before they reach the pinnacle.

Think of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter. She sent her manuscript and synopsis out to all the major publishing houses and it was rejected by almost all of them, over the space of a year. She wrote on Twitter: ‘I wasn’t going to give up until every single publisher turned me down, but I often feared that would happen.’ No one is immune to fear of failure and rejection but we can’t let it rule us. Instead, we have to keep pushing and believing until we get to where we want to be. And take the ‘no thank yous’ with a pinch of salt.

The information contained in this course is intended only for the course participants. Please do not reproduce or redistribute any of the above materials. Copyright © 2019 Annie Ridout