Have you had situations in your freelancing career where you got emotional and made decisions you shouldn’t have?
Fear, anger, sadness… We all experience feelings that at some point will interfere with our work.
I’ve always been honest about the fact that I hate talking on the phone.
I will be nervous days in advance and on the day I’ll lose my breath in the second I pick up the phone.
Just writing this makes my heart pump harder…
Due to my feelings towards talking on the phone, I’ve lost more than 100K in revenue. I’ve lost a high-paying client because I gave into the fear and was unable to call him back.
I’ve made decisions to ignore potential clients who wanted to work with me because I hate talking on the phone that much. In my fearful state, I would make irrational decisions like, not answering the phone and choosing not to call them back.
Not my proudest moment, but that’s what’s happening when we’re in an emotional state of mind.
The problem with emotions and decisions
We all like to see ourselves as rational and smart human beings that are always in control and who knows what the right thing to do is.
Science tells us another story.
Our mind can easily make up stories that are not true and worse yet, make us believe them! When our mind is trying to tell us something we have a tendency to throw away all logic and believe what it’s saying.
Our emotions will persuade our mind to blur out previous experience and knowledge so that we can do something to improve our state of mind.
We can have 30 fantastic days in a row followed by 3 bad days and we’ll start questions what’s wrong with us? Why are we “constantly” feeling down?
Even though we know it’s not true that we’re sad all the time, our mind will connect the dots of past bad experience.
You can do a lot of great things but fail a few times and your mind will tell you that you’re a failure.
It’s not all bad, though. We need emotions to feel alive and sometimes it can be beneficial not to remember everything that has ever happened in our life.
The problem arises in the second we start acting while in an emotional state of mind.
I have a monthly skype meeting with a client and even though everything is great and we’ve been working together for years, I’ll always get nervous as **** before our meeting. When I get nervous my mind’s immediate reaction is to find a reason for my nervousness.
“Is he going to cancel our cooperation tomorrow? Is he mad? He must be, why would I else be feeling nervous? Shit.. I’m gonna lose this client tomorrow and I’ll lose 30% of my income… That’s why I’m so nervous that I can’t sleep or breath!“
By now my brain has convinced me that I’m going to lose 30% of my income so what’s the next natural step?
I would probably start looking for a solution to my future income problem. But as you know, finding solutions in a panicking state of mind is never a wise thing to do. We’ll only see a fraction of our possibilities and they all tend to be crap.
I’d come up with answers like: “Maybe a steady full-time job is a right choice for me? Maybe I’m just not meant to be a freelancer.”
I’ve had many experiences in the past where I’ve all of sudden found myself sending out resumés.
Do you recognize this thought pattern? This is one of the most common thoughts struggling freelancers have and it’s overwhelming. It’s so easy to yell: “Aboard mission, Aboard mission, Aboard mission!” cause naturally we don’t want to feel this way.
When we feel like this we forget about past experience working a full-time job. We forget why we decided to become freelancers. We only see what we need to see to take action and remove this “pain”.
This is where worst-case planning comes in
Nothing happens to the wise man against his expectation – Seneca
Well, as we just establish above, making decisions is plain stupid when you’re emotional.
With worst-case planning, we’ll make action plans based on what could go wrong, while we’re in a good state of mind.
Let’s say you’re scared of losing a client because that’ll remove 50% of your income.
When you’re in a good mood and feel great, sit down and write this worry on a piece of paper.
Then write down, step by step, what you would do if this were to happen.
By having this plan, you don’t need to come up with some irrational solution when you’re scared. You can simply go to your worst-case planner and see exactly what you need to do. You can trust the system you’ve built because you know this situation was planned for by yourself in a more resourceful state of mind.
Action plan – Start your worst-case planner today
- Decide where you’ll write your worst-case action plan.
- Write down all the things that could result in stupid decisions. (Losing clients, missing a deadline, getting an unexpected call etc.)
- Come up with an action plan for each of your points. Make it as detailed as possible, so that it’s easy to follow through on when you’re emotional.
- Go through your worst-case planner every 2-3 month and adjust or add as needed be.
I’ve been sharing some of the fears I had and still experiences today. What is something that can really freak you out and make you question what you’re doing? I’d love to hear in the comments below.
I’d also really appreciate it if you would share this article around.