When freedom becomes unstable – what to do when you feel insecurity as freelancer or founder
This is an article about the ups and downs of self-employment, the emotional chaos as a founder and the many insecurities that “freedom” brings with it.
“You’re brave!” “I couldn’t do that.” “Do you already know how much health insurance you have to pay?” “Is it going well?” these and other statements or questions are often heard when you are a founder or self-employed with your own business.
I like to call it the “fears of others” that come like crashing into you like waves. When I decided last year to set up my own business, I had to be careful that these fears and opinions of others did not dissuade me from MY path. This can happen very quickly, because it is not at all easy to free yourself from the opinions of others. I have struggled a lot inwardly with the statements of others and my inner images and thoughts: “What is right? Do I really have the courage? Am I too naive? Maybe they’re right, and I can’t do it alone?”
Entangled in a chaos of fears, worries and insecurities
It took me a long time to dare. With the thought and many ideas in my head, I’ve been “pregnant” for quite some time, but first you do it off as a “fantasy” or “dreaming” and look at the comfortable situation of employment and quickly discard the thought of self-employment. At least that’s how it was for me. But when this idea is not only in your head, but also in your heart and you can bring a vision into life that doesn’t get enough space at the moment, then an inner voice comes back again and again until you listen to it. Sometimes it helps to take a push from the outside, which I got from my colleagues. They’ve already sensed there’s a new direction and growth process coming for me. So there was no way around it…
Founding your own business = courage paired with doubt
When you found a company, there is a very special energy that drives you. It makes you get up every day and stay on it. It’s a vision you want to bring to life. A change you want to achieve. A challenge you feel hooked to. A product you are completely convinced of. That’s what you work for.
But there are not only these high flights. There are also many monkeys who sit on one’s shoulder and, for example, repeat the statements or questions of others in mantra form or tell you that you are not good enough. These monkeys mostly represent our inner beliefs. Then doubts, worries and fears arise, one is suddenly no longer sure whether this is really the right way.
In addition, there are times in the initial phase of self-employment or even the first years of a start-up in which you have to cut back: in time, privately, financially. Founding a business is a life investment. And the magic of vision doesn’t carry you alone. Unfortunately we cannot live on air and love. Those can be the times when you’re not feeling sure about all of this.
Don’t feel like showing off!
Inside you feel small and exhausted. And the monkey screams: “Fear, fear, fear.” You have doubts that you will not achieve the figures that you have set as your goal and are afraid of failing. Another complication is that you have to sell yourself and your business radiantly to the outside world because you want to grow further, survive the next financing round or want to win a new investor or customer. Actually, you feel like burying yourself and not seeing anyone. You don’t want to go to the office in the morning or sit at your computer. It is particularly difficult when you have employees to whom you should not be completely frustrated.
Endurance instead of permanent actionism.
Enduring is the magic word for founders and freelancers. Of course you will also become active and, for example, do more marketing, participate more in network events and post more on social media. But that shouldn’t be all. Being active and doing, doing, doing will arose more fear. Then thoughts and feeling keep on looping in a doom loop, which I know well from the descriptions of my coachees. You stay on a level of activity and can’t calm down anymore, because when you calm down, your inner voices and doubts become loud. The strategy of “staying busy” is indeed widespread among founders.
As a coach, however, I recommend the complete opposite. After you have done what you can do at that moment, you should take a break and practice letting go. We can never control and plan everything. Self-Employment lives from flexibility. If this is lost to us, then the freedom of this working model has turned into threatening instability.
Practice letting go & develop strength from within
“How do I fight less in my mind?”
“How do I build trust in myself and the cause?”
“How do I become more stable and resiliant?”
Three sample questions that are frequently asked to me as a coach.
The most effective way to it: build up inner stability and strength. The more stable and relaxed we are with ourselves and our current situation, the easier we can take things and build a healthy distance to them. The less our inner dialogues can overpower us and draw strength. At this point I recommend practicing alone time. Because then we hear for ourselves what is going on inside of us and can recognize what is causing us such fear. This can be difficult to endure and frightening at first, as we will find out that it is actually ourselves who take away stability and inner strength from us.
When we gradually come to grips with our strategies, recognize when and how we talk to ourselves and become aware of what triggers what feelings and actions – then we develop so-called self-leadership mechanisms. This means consciously guiding ourselves more form the inside less being guided from the outside. A little tip for your introspection processes: Start keeping a journal or write down notes on your smartphone.
The more we listen and trust in ourselves, the more stability and strength we will feel, because this can only come from within and never from without!
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Photocredit: Joshua Earle