How to Be Confident (When All You Have Is Doubt)
By Jena Kroeker
Have you ever wished you could feel more confident? Maybe you’re starting a freelance business and are suddenly filled with doubt. Or maybe the doubt has always been there, preventing you from pursuing your dreams.
The journey toward confidence and accomplishment is a winding road. It’s full of twists and turns. And our confidence rises and falls, as illustrated in the classic Whitney Houston song, “One Moment in Time”:
The final refrain echoes the cry of our hearts in times of doubt. We need to persevere and keep believing in ourselves:
“Give me one moment in time
When I’m more than I thought I could be
When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away
And the answers are all up to me
Give me one moment in time
When I’m racing with destiny
Then in that one moment of time …
I will be free”
Whitney Houston was unquestionably a superstar. But did you know that the woman who sang so beautifully about confidence struggled to feel confident herself? At her memorial service in 2012, her friend and co-star Kevin Costner spoke about her in an emotional tribute. If you were watching it, you may have been surprised to hear him say,
“The Whitney I knew, despite her success and worldwide fame, still wondered, ‘Am I good enough? Am I pretty enough? Will they like me?’”
One of the most talented singers in the world needed reassurance. And you may need reassurance too. If so, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. Many new and experienced freelancers and virtual assistants experience times of doubt.
How Confidence Shapes Our Outcome
In an article titled “10 Ways to Be More Confident as a Freelancer,” Kevin D. Hendricks says,
“Confidence can be a major challenge for freelancers. It’s easy to think freelancers are full of guts and bravado, stepping out on their own ready to be their own boss. But the reality is freelancers aren’t always so confident.
“A lack of confidence is one of the top things that can stop freelancers from succeeding. But the painful reality is that nearly every freelancer struggles with confidence….”
Freelance University co-founder Craig Cannings addresses this challenge in a recent podcast episode, “Five Ways to Build Your Confidence (and a Great Business)!” He explains that confidence will either make or break your business and success as an entrepreneur, freelancer, or virtual assistant. And a constant level of self-doubt can shape your future if it prevents you from pursuing opportunities. It can also distort your expectations for yourself and your clients.
But take heart! As Craig says, “You are better than you think!” With that in mind, let’s explore five strategies he recommends for building confidence as a freelancer or virtual assistant.
Note: If your self-doubt is chronic, seek guidance from a professional counsellor or speak with someone close to you.
Five Ways to Become Confident and Reduce Self-Doubt
1. Develop a self-doubt radar.
Over the next 24 hours, track every time you find yourself having a negative thought or engaging in negative self-talk. Document it and ask yourself what preceded it. What happened during that moment? Recognize when you’re doubting yourself, and ask if those doubts are the truth. Try to stop unnecessary doubts in their tracks.
If someone says you can’t be an entrepreneur, go out there and be an entrepreneur. If you think you’re an imposter, go out and do your work to the best of your ability. As Vincent Van Gogh said, “If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”
And as the article above says,
“… If you’re going to compare yourself to anyone, compare yourself to your clients. In their eyes, you’re a magician. You can do things they have no idea how to do, and they’re happy to pay you to do them.”
2. Remember your past greatness.
Remember the failures you’ve had in your life and how you overcame them. Consider how they made you stronger and developed your character. Often something good comes out of failure. And remember the times when you were a survivor, overcoming difficult experiences. Think about everything you’ve accomplished that you’re proud of, in personal life or past work with a client. Document it. This past greatness will shape how you think of yourself today.
Documenting weekly wins is a good habit to develop. Choose a day to write down small or big accomplishments that move you toward having a growth mindset. You’ll notice you have many things in your business to be proud of — even if you’re struggling with self-doubt.
3. Know your value.
If you don’t feel confident, you might charge less than you’re worth. You grossly underestimate your skills, even if you’re a master at them. This self-doubt trickles down and affects your relationship with clients. As your expectation of how they treat you is diminished, you may not set boundaries properly. For example, you let them call you on a Sunday night demanding work be done immediately. And you think it’s okay to be treated that way.
To gain a true appreciation of your value, document your strengths and weaknesses. Fold a piece of paper in half. On one side write down strengths, and on the other side weaknesses. Bring in a trusted confidante to help you fill it out. Tell them you need their help because you doubt yourself and are too critical sometimes. Ask them what they think you’re good at.
Chances are, when other people look at you, they think you’re awesome. So, have those people around you. Also, be honest about your weaknesses and consider areas you can develop. This exercise will help you see your value as you own all the great things you bring to the table.
4. Enlist a mentor or join a mastermind group of like-minded people.
A mentor or mastermind group can breathe life into you. They can encourage and challenge you when you’re having a moment of self-doubt. They remind you to think of your strengths. Having those people in your life will help elevate your confidence.
Unfortunately, you might have people in your life right now who don’t encourage your business pursuits. They wonder why you left a “real” job to pursue freelancing or run your own business.
In contrast, a mastermind group will encourage you and help you get out of the space that you’re in. They’ll troubleshoot problems and set you on the right path again. In her article, “The Career-Boosting Technique Even Smart People Don’t Know,” Minda Zetlin asserts, “In the best mastermind groups, members become each other’s board of advisers, sharing opportunities and helping each other reach their goals.”
So, connect with people who care about you and will invest in you. They will only help you become more confident.
5. Gain mastery over your skills.
Confidence grows as you master your craft. There’s always room to become a better blogger, better online business manager, better web designer…. The list goes on. At Freelance University, students build confidence through taking courses and practicing skills in the FreeU Software Sandbox. As they develop mastery, they realize they aren’t imposters. They can pursue freelancing or virtual assistance work and be highly successful.
So, become a curious, relentless learner. Look for ways to master new technology, tools, or strategies to help you become better at what you do. You’ll gain expert status with your clients. You’ll know even more than they do as you study, practice, and master your skills. And your confidence will increase as a result.
We all struggle with self-doubt sometimes. But it doesn’t have to defeat us. The five strategies above can help reduce it so a bigger confidence takes its place. That gives us the courage to pursue opportunities and shape our future in a positive way.
“With confidence, you have won before you’ve started.” – Marcus Garvey
And finally, consider these words from Whitney Houston’s song,
“You’re a winner for a lifetime
If you seize that one moment in time
Make it shine”
Let’s build healthy habits that make us more confident so we can seize each moment in time and make it shine!
And now we’d love to hear from you! Do you struggle with self-doubt in your business? If so, how do you overcome it? Have you missed out on opportunities because of a lack of confidence in the past? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.