One of the things I love about freelancing is the variety it affords. I’ve written feature articles on everything from musician profiles to start-up marketing advice, whisky collecting, the state of gender equity in local business and even perfume bottle design. I feel like I get to learn something new every day!
Sometimes, however, I get the chance to work on something that really is completely outside my comfort zone. It’s been one of those seasons for the last few months. I’ve had to chance to:
- Ghostwrite an exciting book that should be launched in time for Christmas
- Contribute a number of chapters to various academic textbooks
- Deliver a custom report writing workshop for equity analysts and economists at a bank through a new business partner
- Pitch a human interest story I have wanted to write for a couple of years to a magazine I’ve always wanted to write for (and have it commissioned – yay!)
I’m looking forward to sharing news of these projects over the next few months, but for now I wanted to take the time to reflect on the benefits of taking on new work that scares you a bit. This season has reminded me of how important it is to be a little terrified once in awhile.
I am terrified of deep water and always almost bail when we go snorkeling. After the panicking, however, I thoroughly enjoy it and am always glad I did it.
Work that scares you is just like that.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
- Being open to the new means sometimes having to let go of the old. It’s helpful to take stock every now and then to see what’s working and what isn’t in your business, and to ditch what’s not. There’s no room for new growth if you hang on to habits / products / client relationships that aren’t working anymore.
- Learning new skills or tackling new types of work is invigorating. If you find yourself stuck in a rut or bored with what you do, look for opportunities to try something new, even if they scare you a bit. Challenging work makes you engage your brain differently.
- If you don’t take the risk, there’s no chance of the reward. I am not advocating taking risk for the sake of it, but being willing to put aside your imposter syndrome for long enough to give something a go. What would you do if you weren’t scared to do it? Do you think you could do it even while being scared? If yes, go for it!
- “Scary” work always provides a learning opportunity. You may need to do some research or up-skill yourself before you tackle the work, but don’t forget about what happens when it’s over too. Whether you feel you’ve succeeded or failed, you can learn something from it. Sometimes there are elements of success and failure – things that worked and things that didn’t. Work through these so that next time you can adjust how you tackle the work.
What have you learned from taking on work that terrifies you a little?