Your ability to bounce back from rejection, criticism, setbacks and such is directly linked to your freelancing success. And your longevity. Resilience is linked to career success generally, but without the boss pushing you to keep turning in work—the constant churn of deadlines—the freelancer needs even more rubberiness to bounce back on her own.
Actual steps that will make you more resilient:
- take breaks
- practice resilience
- boost confidence
- get exercise
- get praise
At a fundamental level, your body and mind simply need time to recharge. Resilience wears down, even for the most resilient among us. Humans have an amazing ability to reset, though. Sleep, relaxation, and diversion are all forms of a break.
Find much smaller things to practice resilience on: like eating a sandwich without mustard (sub-par, but resilience-building).
Dealing with much larger setbacks can sometimes build resilience by setting the bar so high that you no longer give a hoot about [mustard]. But I really don’t wish that method on a single soul.
A general level of confidence can help you weather rough times. You can build confidence in your skills through ongoing training (professional development or PD): check in with colleagues on points of skill; compare business practices; learn from each other. You can also build confidence that the people who matter will still love you even if you underperform at work this one time. Connect with those people.
Neuroscience has shown that exercise can make you more resilient to stress. If you can’t make time for exercise (or hate such a task, as I do) then build it into your routine by only using the bathroom on another floor, walking the long way, standing at work, or getting a dog that simply must be walked.
Breathe, regardless of your exercise regimen. Breathe deeply, regularly. Involve every part of your lungs. Breathe consciously when you read emails—a time when you are particularly prone to holding your breath. Exercise that has breath as a central component hits two points at once: swimming, running, or yoga, for example.
Comedy may count as exercise. It’s certainly an ab workout, but the breathing isn’t always deep. Still, the laughter hits a few other points in the resilience toolbox. It also puts you in a laughing mood, and eventually, you’ll find that you can see the humor in even stressful situations.
Build up your reserves by getting love and appreciation. The sure-fire tactic is to get a dog. A waggy one. Not a cat. Cats are good for taking breaks, loving you no matter what’s going on in your life, and there’s a definite purr-therapy advantage, but a dog is the creature that excels at showing exuberance for the simple act of your mere existence.
Ask for praise, either by showing off accomplishments or the pretty tiara on your head, or by saying plainly “I need you to tell me I did a good job.” Contact past clients because you’re “updating your website and collecting testimonials for it.”
Hang around people who give praise. They’re out there. You might recognize them by how you hear yourself dismissing praise whenever they’re around: “Oh, this old thing?” Call them up.
Praise someone else. This has a surprising effect of raising your own mood. Best part is, you don’t have to rely on someone else to make it happen. In fact, why not praise that person who hands you praise? A short “you’re always so generous with your praise” might make a world of difference to both of you.
Photo by by Total Verhext used under CC BY-2.0 license.