6 Ways to Help Defeat Self-Doubt

We'll just come right out and say it— self-doubt happens. In any creative field, it can be hard to make things without judging your work or worrying that it’s not good enough. This feeling pops up even more when you create for a living. But we’re here to tell you something very important about these feelings—they’re 100% natural, and pretty much every other creator out there feels them, too.

Here are some ways to stay positive and keep moving forward when you’re feeling like your work isn’t good enough, or if you aren’t booking as many gigs as you want to. Because self-doubt definitely exists, but that doesn’t mean that you have to let it win.

1. Get inspired

If you’re feeling uncertain creatively, it’s time to get those juices flowing and inspire yourself to keep moving towards your goals. Read a book. Go to a museum. Listen to a podcast. Follow a blogger. Seeing what’s possible if you keep honing your skills and working hard is a great motivator to keep going in the face of self-doubt. Remember, even successful people who have created amazing pieces of artwork, written incredible books or produced award-winning podcasts have moments of self-doubt and failure. It’s part of the process! But if you look at all the amazing things that can happen if you put failure behind you and keep creating—now that’s some motivating stuff.

2. Set small goals

If you look at the big picture, it’s easy to feel like your accomplishments don’t stack up. But it helps to focus on smaller, more attainable goals that you can achieve in the short term. For example, if your long-term goal is to land a client that lets you direct a photography shoot, what small steps can you take now to get there in the future? Maybe you can create a photography section on your portfolio, or experiment with new lighting techniques. Checking something off your to-do list, even if it’s a small item, will give you a feeling of productivity, and keep your business goals headed in the right direction.

3. Keep honing your craft

Just because you don’t have work lined up at this moment doesn’t mean it’s time to sit around and worry. It’s actually the perfect time to continue to make yourself better, so when that next gig comes around you’ll be ready to nail it. Take a class. Learn new skills. Work on a project you haven’t gotten around to finishing. They say practice makes perfect, so you may as well put your extra unbillable hours into improving yourself and your skillset. Future you will thank you!

4. Surround yourself with awesome people

Getting through self-doubt is much easier when you have a support system of people who care about you, believe in you, and are there to help lift you up when you’re feeling down. Who are the people in your life who encourage you, inspire you, or motivate you? Now’s the time to give them a call, or schedule a hangout. Oftentimes, just hearing another perspective on your inner doubts can help shift your mindset, especially if it’s coming from someone you trust.

5. Stay busy

Another way to get through a creative funk is to stop wallowing in it—and start getting past it. So get moving and do something, even if it’s not related to work—join a club, go to the gym, walk your dog, volunteer. Get your mind off work for a minute, and enjoy that free time. After all, wasn’t that part of the reason you got into freelancing to begin with?! It’s amazing how a little movement can get your mind back on track to be the supportive partner you deserve.

6. Remind yourself that you’re not alone

Sometimes, no matter what you do or tell yourself, you’re just going to have days where you feel down, or uncertain about your talents and abilities. When this happens, try to remind yourself that you’re not alone feeling this way. Even the people who seem like they’ve got it all together experience self-doubt, too. It’s part of the human experience! So power through, because freelancing is just like life in general: there’s always tomorrow.

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