Is the Voice in Your Head Holding You Back?

How much easier would running your freelance business be if you could just find a way to quieten that pesky voice in your head?

Most of us have this voice, which is constantly judging what we’re doing, making us feel guilty about what we’ve not done, and quietly injecting self-doubt into our daily lives.

As a freelancer, if you let this voice run free and unchecked, it’s highly likely that you’re severely hampering your career and life quality.

You see, this voice wants you to stay in your comfort zone. It tells you not to share your work with the world because it’s not good enough, it tells you to keep your head down and watch Netflix instead of wasting your time trying to develop your skills, and it tells you that nobody would pay that much for something you’ve created.

If you can tame this inner voice, the possibilities are incredible.

Table of contents:

What is that voice in your head?

The voice in your head is something that we’re so used to listening to, most of us have forgotten about it, or never really thought about the fact it’s there.

But it’s constantly present, chattering away and judging everything it sees.

What’s interesting is when you start to pay attention to it and view it as something separate from yourself.

This voice isn’t actually a true reflection of ‘you’.

I like this description from the book ‘The Disease to Please,’ by Harriet B. Braiker, which calls it the ‘Voice of your Judging Conscience.’

‘That voice is the amalgamation of your parents, teachers, older siblings, coaches, or other authority figures that, at various points in your life, laid down rules that have stayed with you throughout your life.’

So this voice isn’t you, and you don’t have to be a slave to it. The more you recognise that it’s actually a combination of other peoples’ voices, the more conscious you can be about how much you allow it to dictate and influence your life, your actions and your day-to-day decisions.

4 ways to conquer the voice in your head

1. Make a plan and stick to it

The voice is highly emotional, and it will react to the slightest setback. It’s really short term focused.

And the problem is, most meaningful progress involves short-term pain for long-term gain.

If you want to write a book, for example, you need to struggle through that painful first draft. Part of the process of writing a book is creating a first draft that is nowhere near good enough to be published.

All the while the voice will be criticising what you’ve written and encouraging you to stop.

So the key is to define a plan, and simply forge on until you have completed it.

Aim to simply finish a first draft – regardless of quality – rather than thinking ahead to publishing it, or comparing it to other books.

This way you’re removing the pressure – it doesn’t matter how bad it is, you just need to do what you’ve committed to.

2. Compare yourself to yourself only

Trying to please the voice is never a good idea.

As we’ve seen, this voice is composed of the ideas and values of others, which may not actually line up with what you want from life.

This is how you can fall into trying to keep up with the Jones’s and doing things just for the sake of status or prestige – not because they are meaningful to you.

The best way to progress is to simply measure your progress against yourself.

By doing this, you can see the actual progress you are making, and ignore the external noise (and the internal voice which wants to compare you with everybody else).

3. Experiment with mindfulness

Once you recognise that this voice is there, and isn’t altogether helpful, this quite soon leads you to stumble into the world of mindfulness.

Mindfulness practice is trendy at the moment, and with good reason. It’s helping a lot of people. There all kinds of ways to do it, but at its core it’s simply training the muscle of noticing what is happening in each moment.

A large part of this is noticing when you are having thoughts, and taking time to listen to what is actually happening in your head.

It’s not about stopping having thoughts at all, it’s about noticing them.

By practicing paying attention to the voice in your head, you’ll grow the skill of noticing the voice. In turn, you can then challenge the voice, or reduce the impact that it has on you.

I try to do mindfulness when I can. But to be honest, I still struggle with it. I don’t really notice a lot of the promised effects but I do find I can more clearly notice my internal dialogue.

I can realise when my internal voice is sabotaging me and then react accordingly.

4. Create routines

This links in with making a plan, but the best way to make progress on long term goals is to do a little every day.

As freelancers, we’re lucky to be able to control our own schedules. This means we can fit in half an hour daily to work on long term projects. 

Focussing on just working for a set period of time, rather than on the grand outcome makes it much easier to make progress because the internal voice is focussed on the short-term goal, rather than the long-term aim.

Think back to the book example, anyone can write for half an hour, but publishing a successful book is a huge, lofty goal that is bound to be intimidating.

I believe that controlling this inner voice or at least recognising the influence it has on our day-to-day lives is critically important as a freelancer.

Aristotle is said to have said’ We are what we do every day’. So if you can make small progress in overcoming the self-critical voice in your head – which is probably holding you back every day, you’re going to see huge benefits in the long run.

You’re going to be able to actually complete the projects that are meaningful to you.

You’re going to be confident in how you price and pitch your services.

And you’re going to be brave and courageous when you spot new opportunities to get what you want.

That’s why we dedicate an entire week to mindset in Freelance Bootcamp – (we’ve unlocked a lesson on why freelance mindset matters so you can watch it for free here).

The best freelancers have learned to work with this voice, rather than against it.

Or they’ve developed great tricks to help them avoid the perfectionism, procrastination and paralysis trap. 

If you like this article, you might like these as well:

How to Stop Procrastinating Once and For All
Mindset Matters – How to Build the Rock-Solid Freelance Mindset You Need For Success

How to Stay Consistent as a Freelancer

Until next time,

Alistair signature