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What Are You Afraid Of?

For me, being my own boss was always part of the plan, I just didn’t know when it would happen, or what it would look like when it did.

There are a lot of obstacles to overcome upon making the decision to work for yourself. The inconsistent income stream is one of them; but eventually you learn how to adapt (and if you don’t, then you learn self-employment is not for you). You also learn to wear many hats. At Web of Words, I am a full-time freelance writer, yes, but I am also the bookkeeper, the sales person, and basically the whole freaking HR team.

The learning curve is steep.

But perhaps the most challenging barrier out of them all is staring the fear of failure right in its beady little eyes. Every self-employed person will face it – usually again and again, each time disguised as something new.

There are many ways you will learn to cope with failure throughout your self-employed life. For me, I try to tackle the fear head on. I look at failure as an element of success. One of many practice runs.

After all, if I didn’t fail, that means I never would have tried, and where’s the fun in that? Instead of avoiding it, I choose to embrace change as it comes, and accept the fact that nothing is permanent – no recurring client project, no paycheque, no particular job or role.

In order to survive, you must learn to ebb and flow with the tide.

The good news is, you figure most of this out as you go along. Like much of life, you learn from your mistakes, and gain new perspective from every experience. You become a stronger swimmer with every stroke, and eventually you’re able to predict the stormy waters, and develop a plan of action for dealing with them, before they even arrive.

Of course, there are always going to be things that are out of your control. And the world isn’t going to be standing at each intersection, waving its arms in the air like the frantic crossing guard in front of your local elementary school.

That’s the thing about taking the unbeaten path – you have to do the navigating for yourself. Sure, you can rely on your compass to help you get your bearings, but if you stare at it for too long, you’ll miss the views along the way. And if your big, clumsy feet trip over a jagged root sticking out from the ground, you’ll notice pretty quickly that the world isn’t leaning over you, reaching out its hand to help you back to your feet.

Nope, you’re kinda, sorta on your own here. And when you screw up, you’re the one who has to pick up the pieces and figure out a way of putting them back together.

The feat of building your own business is nothing new. People have been doing it for decades. But the idea of building your own career seems to be growing more appealing for today’s young workers. We’re realizing the status quo just isn’t enough. It doesn’t fit with the kind of life we want to build.

And yes, it’s scary to go out on your own.

There’s no security blanket there to catch you when you fall.

But you know what I’ve realized?

Sometimes, falling is necessary. It forces you to try a new angle, or go to a place you’ve never been before. And suddenly, you find you’re exactly where you’re meant to be – all because you weren’t afraid to fail.


Charlotte Ottaway

Charlotte is the founder of Web of Words. She helps solopreneurs and small business owners create real human connections online through blogging and social media. Her work has been published in Maclean's, Canadian Business, Zoomer, The Globe and Mail, The Huffington Post Canada and other Canadian publications. Better known by family and friends as Carly, she currently resides in Newmarket with her husband and fur-babe. To learn more, check out her portfolio at charlotteottaway.com and follow her on Twitter @charlottaway.