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Crippling fear of failure and how to overcome it

(59 Posts)
LargeLatte Wed 20-Mar-13 10:05:54

It's really bad. If I even do volunteer work I spend about the next 48 hours replaying stuff in my mind analysing if I did something wrong.

I earn a good part time income running my own websites. The money comes from advertising / commission so there is very little interaction with other people or evaluation of my work.

I have been asked on a number of occassions if I would take on some online marketing freelance work. And every time I have chickened out, even though it would pay well and help smooth out the seasonality of my current income.

I feel to scared to even set up my own site explaining what freelance work I can do in case someone I know finds it and laughs about it / confronts me that I am not good enough to do that work.

I really want to get over this because it is holding me back from being my true self, damaging my earning potential and is a pretty terrible example to be setting my children.

But how?

Jossysgiants Wed 20-Mar-13 11:47:21

Hello. I.sympathise. First of all, you are clearly a very capable person. Not everyone can succeed where you have. Can you break down the fear at all? What is the outcome you are afraid of? I mean I know you said failure, but what does that mean to you - is it embarrassment or just it not getting off the ground? I have been reading some of the 1000 a day thread and it is interesting that some of the more gung-ho participants have clearly managed to reframe failure in a different way. Brushing themselves down and seeing it very much as a numbers game. Easier said than done- I have always found Cbt to be a useful way of overcoming anxieties of many kinds.
Sorry - not much help.

LargeLatte Wed 20-Mar-13 12:47:55

Thanks you Jossy. It is mostly the fear of being face to face with someone telling me I am not good enough.

I don't know why that frightens me so much because in the past when it has happened I have got over it easily enough.

I also get really worried that the kids will get ill, and then when they do, it is no big deal at all and I cope fine with it, then about 2 days later I start to get worried about the exact same thing. And yet I don't worry about really catastrophic things happening at all.

I did an online CBT course a while ago about challenging negative thinking, maybe I need to revisit it.

I have noticed that the only difference between me and really sucessful women I know is self-belief - they aren't actually any more intelligent or capable than me, they just know their worth.

Jossysgiants Wed 20-Mar-13 13:22:48

I agree re the self belief. I found the 1000 a day thread so inspiring because of that - and developing/turning on that self belief is something which is achievable. There is a lot of talk around the tinternet at the moment about Resilience - it is important too as the ability to bounce back from real or perceived set backs is also important. I imagine once you have done one freelance gig the fear will diminish. Is there a way you could do that in a safer environment- people you already know well, or do a project alongside another associate?

LargeLatte Wed 20-Mar-13 13:48:14

I am doing a project now for a friend, which is what got me thinking because he keeps telling me how great I am and that he has lots of friends that would like me to work for them on projects.

I am warming up to the idea.

I also get really scared I'll get sued. Money and legal matters really trouble me.

MrsMargoLeadbetter Wed 20-Mar-13 14:03:17

LargeLatte have a look at this thread too -

Some of it could be "solved" by CBT, but I also think that you just need to take the plunge. Experience of being self-employed/freelancing can help build self-belief.

I am sure lots of the women you mention feel as you do sometimes, they are just good at presenting a successful image. Social media etc require us to appear busy/buzzy and on it all the time. You rarely see anyone saying "I have no work booked in for the next 2 months, help me"!!!

When I started out I downloaded the accounts of some of my 'competitors' from Companies House to get a sense of the potential market and it was very eye opening!

Can you break it down into steps? If you already have people looking to employ you, so you even need a freelance website etc? Could you start by tapping up those that have expressed an interest first?

I am a freelance marketer and what I would say is that what you think you'll do might be very different to what you actually end up doing. So spending time on a website at this point might not be needed/the best use of time.

I have insurance and properly drafted contracts as I feel anxious about money/liability too. I do think the likelihood of anyone suing us is v v v small. I see it that I make recommendations based on the context at the time...

PM if you have any specific questions I can help with.

I'd say give it a go. Your friends believe that you'll be great - listen to them. I am sure you'll be just as successful with this as you already are re your own sites.

Good luck.

LargeLatte Wed 20-Mar-13 14:28:27

Margo - thanks very much for your kind words.

What sort of insurance do you get - is there professional indemnity for marketeers?

DolomitesDonkey Wed 20-Mar-13 15:21:49

I think it's called "Imposter Syndrome" and it's talked about from time to time on these boards.

To counter that fear of someone calling you out on "not being good enough" - you need to remind yourself that people are already seeing you as the expert - i.e., they've asked to hire you!

I love what margot says - you're right - nobody ever says "well it's shit, here I am painting my nails - where are my clients? boohoo".

MrsMargoLeadbetter Wed 20-Mar-13 20:48:57

I just took out a professional indemnity insurance. Selected the supplier through moneysupermarket after shopping around. Is c£140 a year. Like all insurance though, the test will be if I have to claim.

Actually the process of looking at insurance might help you, as you have to consider the types of potential claim that could be brought against you. It made me think that actually the risk (touch wood) is fairly low.

MrsMargoLeadbetter Wed 20-Mar-13 20:51:39

My insurance was a generic business services one but I was asked to specify what I did. The marketing professional bodies might have recommended suppliers.

LargeLatte Wed 20-Mar-13 21:24:07

Thanks Dolomites, I have never heard of Imposter Syndrome - I'll look into it as I'll definitely feel better to know other people have felt the same and over come it.

And thanks Margo - that is a very small cost compared to the peace of mind it would give me. When I think about what could go wrong it mostly involved a horrific reputation-damaging Tweet that goes viral that I'm responsible for - which I would imagine is extremely unlikely.

If I really think about it the worst that can happen is I recommend something, or publish something that the client doesn't like - it's not like it can't be undone.

LargeLatte Wed 20-Mar-13 21:59:14

I just looked up the definition of Imposter Syndrome and found a precise description of myself - and I do it about EVERYTHING - about popularity, looks, parenting, food I cook, the house I live in - absolutely EVERYTHING.

More reading needed.

MrsMargoLeadbetter Thu 21-Mar-13 09:20:42

Largelatte you will also have control over what sort of work you take on.

I had an opportunity to work with a Women's domestic violence org. I really wanted to work for such an org. But they could only afford a day a week and the people who would sign off my stuff were very time poor.
On talking to them it was clear that there were lots of language/issues I would need to be aware of. And that added to the fact I didn't think I'd get the support I'd need made it too risky a job for me.

It is unlikely you will find a client that hands over the entire responsibility for their marketing and doesn't want input/updates.

I also think your 'sales' process can help you. Get into the habit of doing a proposal which sets out what you will do, what they need to do and maybe a disclaimer about social media etc. Then follow up with a contract.

I would always try to build in updates in writing so you have evidence/ a paper trail.

With people you know it could be tempting not to bother with the paperwork, but I think it is worth it and will put you mind at ease.

Both parties being clear is essential and can erradicate some potential errors.

As for 'bad' tweets etc. You are a human, if they employed somebody they wouldn't (or shouldn't!) expect 100% accuracy. You just need to amend whatever went wrong.

Hopefully the imposter stuff will help too.

Good luck.

LargeLatte Thu 21-Mar-13 10:05:37

Thanks so much for your help.

I've just spent a bit of time looking at stuff on People Per Hour and thinking 'I could do that job' and is helping me put together a list of things I CAN do rather than worrying about what I might get wrong.

DolomitesDonkey Thu 21-Mar-13 10:12:33

"Bad tweets" - oh they can be reaaaaaaaaly bad - one which sticks in my mind is the lady who owned a clothes shop called "Aurora" who got all excited because Aurora was trending on twitter... <wince>But in reality I'm sure her shop is still going.

Nobody gets it perfect, even the big corporations - I think it was either Burger King or KFC who royally screwed up just a few months ago.

StyleManual Mon 25-Mar-13 09:48:17

I feel to scared to even set up my own site explaining what freelance work I can do in case someone I know finds it and laughs about it / confronts me that I am not good enough to do that work.

^^ This. I don't know how to overcome it either! I AM going to set up a website though. I will grasp the nettle and just accept that people I know will see it and laugh be amazed.

LargeLatte Mon 25-Mar-13 11:55:15

Hi StyleManual - I am working on my site today - shall we hold hands (although that will slow the typing a little).

I made a huge list of 'I can.....' even down to the smallest jobs. Then looked at the type of work I preferred to do and would be most profitable. That made me feel lots better.

Then I did some reading on imposter syndrome, and downloaded lots of free business Kindle books to get me back in the right mindset.

I often find myself dishing out advice to friends in RL and online and getting nothing for it, so I am setting up my site with all my standard replies, so I can refer people to those with some advertising / affiliate links so I stand a chance of making some money from that. Then I will go out a look for the freelance work I'd rather be doing, with my website as an example in my proposals.

I'm now reading 'The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women' but tbh am finding that a bit heavy going.

I downloaded this book and it is very sweary, but made me laugh and realize I am over analysing things way too much and everyone I know if far too busy with their own lives to be checking up on me.

Hope to stay in touch - we need to stick together.

DolomitesDonkey Mon 25-Mar-13 12:00:40

StyleManual/LargeLatte They will not think you're a wally - they will think you're crazy and amazing and be jealous all at the same time.

The reason I know this? I've just taken redundancy (amazing package) - and my colleagues bitch and moan and whine and complain - but they won't leave. It takes courage to set out on your own - so they will actually be in awe!

They are likely to be silent because how can they possibly articulate "I'm so envious, I'd love to be like you but I'm too scared and I'd rather stick to my lousy monthly pay packet even though I hate this job and I have dreams of my boss's head an a gas oven"? wink

I told two colleagues last friday - the first is on the brink of taking the jump herself and was full of excitement and encouragement - the second could barely contain his bitterness - but still he didn't say "you fucking eejit"!

LargeLatte Mon 25-Mar-13 12:07:02

Good luck to you Dolomites.

They are probably busy telling themselves how great they are to tough it out and stay in their crumby jobs.

StyleManual Mon 25-Mar-13 13:23:14

LargeLatte - Yes, let's hold hands! I am also joining a professional body so I can go to CPD courses and networking events. It's my biggest fear - being found out in front of a group of "real" professionals, but once I've paid my membership I'll have to just tough it out!

Dolomites - THanks for the pep talk, I feel a little bit braver now. Good luck to you as well. I ended up going down the freelance route by being made redundant (not voluntarily!). Sometimes I need to remind myself how far I've come and how everything I've achieved has been solely down to me. Taking a year off for ML has set me back a bit and knocked my confidence. Just have to climb back up though.

DolomitesDonkey Mon 25-Mar-13 13:29:07

Ah, well take the networking with a pinch of salt - as in "real life" wink - those who can't stop banging on about themselves are the ones who are full up to here <holds hand way above head> with it!

Let them talk, let them talk shite - then follow up in the cool light of day by phone or email - whatever is your preferred medium.

Don't try and sell the shit out of whatever it is you've got - go out there and be nice and remember - there's bound to be half a dozen people there who are waaaaay more terrified than you are!

hereincornwall Mon 25-Mar-13 16:06:11

Great thread.

I have just done my website, set up an email, got some biz cards and done some online profile stuff (twitter, fb, linkedin etc). Now I need to start selling myself and getting some work but I'm so afraid that people will actually just laugh at me and think, what the hell is that strange lady talking about!

Can we hold hands together???

It really is amazingly scary isn't it?

LargeLatte Mon 25-Mar-13 18:16:11

Hello Cornwall and welcome aboard the 'Crippled by an uneccessary fear of failure'.

I am now too scared to send StyleManual the post on my blog I promised on another thread in case she thinks its crap blush.

Maybe I'll pluck up the courage after a couple of glasses of wine

hereincornwall Mon 25-Mar-13 20:47:14

Do it! Send it. It'll be brilliant and you'll feel good about it. Go on! Confidence!

I'd like to look too, if possible? I'll share my website with you too, if you fancy doing a bit of networking offline!

StyleManual Tue 26-Mar-13 09:01:51

It wasn't crap! It was really good and useful. It was written in a nice friendly style and was nice and clear. I just could do with more of the same...a guide to the jargon maybe - what's a domain name, where do you buy it, what is web hosting, what the flip is wordpress, etc. You've definitely got knowledge that you can share.
Thanks Latte, and well done on being brave!

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