Losing control and confidence

I think we have all felt an element of not being in control the last few months.  This is normal. I know that if I can’t control things it can really affect my confidence. The self-doubt and lack of trust in my judgements set in.

We are very much now in a hybrid time. On one hand feeling that we have ‘been through it’ and have a glimpse of normality again. But equally what we have learnt is there is still an element of uncertainty ahead – will there be a second wave, what will the winter and normal flu season bring? I’m sure I am not the only one who has these thoughts?

The new normal could be felt to be an overused phrase but the reality is that we need to adapt, build our resilience and ensure that we have the tools to regain some control and build our confidence when needed in this new normal.

As freelancers we are usually very much in control of our work.  We develop our own goals, we manage our own workload, we secure our own contracts, we decide our hours and so on. Fundamentally we are very much in control of our own motivation to get out of bed in the morning and deliver our work.  We have to be confident in our goals and abilities to achieve this. We all get those left field wobbles and inner critic but when the Covid-19 tank hit it challenged our control and in turn our confidence from numerous directions – juggling childcare, health, financially, having our workspace invaded by other family members, etc. I know we will all have our own personal experiences and scars of how we started to feel out of control and its effect on our confidence.

We have to keep reminding ourselves that we can only control those things that are within our control.  There is so much which is out of our control and we have to try to avoid the trap of trying to change the unchangeable and spending time and becoming anxious by worrying about those things that are out of our control.  Instead we need to ‘rewrite the rules’ for our own circumstances and this comes from focusing on those elements which are within our control, building resilience in our confidence levels and being able to adapt.

So, what can we do to build back some of that confidence and build in a level of resilience for if and when we feel uncertainty and that things are starting to feel out of our control?

There are a range of tools that can be used depending on individual circumstance to help you write your own rules. Knowing the triggers that make you feel out of control can be powerful information in knowing when to avoid and respond.  So too can knowing those things that you know make you feel good and building them into your everyday routine and life.  That way you are starting to build in some resilience.  Exercise, for example is brilliant as not only does it make us feel good it can control our stress.  Even just a walk – getting up and away from the desk can have a huge benefit. But for you it may be listening to music, reading a book or spending time with a positive friend.

Now is a good time to start planning again. Planning now for September is good as for many of us our children will be back at school (I’m sure I hear a small little cheer from those who have been multi-tasking all these months!) Your mind may feel muddled with where to start because you are busy, you have an inkling that you need to take a new direction or simply because you just don’t feel confident and have the trust in your instincts.  It’s so easy at this time to procrastinate which is why it’s important to keep the planning steps small.  By making them small and achievable you will not only make them more likely to be achieved but you will also start to build that confidence and trust in your abilities to move forward.  The more you tick off the list, get into a routine and move forward the more your confidence will grow, you will trust yourself to do more and you will become increasingly back in control of your workload and business

Above all, don’t be hard on yourself, the feelings are normal. Be kind to yourself, as your own boss it is your duty to look after yourself. Do this by putting in measures to help regain that control and develop resilience to the effect that those things out of your control can have on you.

Nicola Hughes is a freelancer for over 14 years.  She provides consultancy in service development and improvement and is also a Confidence Coach.

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