freelance scarcity myths

Photo by Ryan Maguire

Ah scarcity myth. You sure do mess with a freelancer’s mind.

One of the best things about being self employed is that you can move your business in the direction you need. It’s up to you to get your nerd on and study to stay up to date. You can direct your marketing, invent your content marketing strategy and create the work that works for you.

Why then do so many people get worried about a lack of work? Our clients choose us for the individual qualities we offer after all!

Well, we’re biologically designed to be scared about a lack of shelter, food and clothing. We have an in-built leaning towards scarcity myths. We’re meant to be worrying about big ticket items such as dying of starvation, exposure or being eaten by a dinosaur. These things don’t matter in modern society so much for small business owners.

But the alert system that motivates us to stay alive despite being surrounded by imminent danger has to focus on something. So instead, it invents the idea that work is scarce, people are stealing your ideas and any minute now, your business will be toast.

That’s a lot to unpack. And you know what? There are vicious weirdos who spend their days trying to ruin other people’s businesses. There are people who steal ideas all the time and pass them off as their own. And there are issues you face in business that cause more than their fair share of sleepless nights.

But let’s not focus in on them. They get enough airtime without giving them the precious time we have available for our own marketing activities.

Besides, most of the crappy competitive behaviour is freelancers suffering from scarcity myths. So advice here is not to join them.

Instead of seeing someone trying desperately to corner all the markets, realise their panic is also their biggest problem. As they shill another title and repurpose yet another of someone else’s ideas, see it for what it is.

That person is distracted! They’ve taken their eyes off the business wheel and they are chasing things they think will make them feel better.

Ultimately, it won’t. The decision to feel safe and secure in what you do is the opposite of scarcity. They can launch as many eBooks, courses, crazy business ideas, social media pages and whatever they like. That will never fill the hole within.

At the risk of sounding like I’ve had one too many wheat grass shots on the way to the yoga mat, this one has nothing to do with business and everything to do with the person doing the business.

When you invest in scarcity myths, you’re choosing to limit your options. You are actively telling yourself that there isn’t something unique about you and that at any minute, other people can overtake you.

You are saying what you do has no future and isn’t future-proof.

Instead of believing that, you should be doing something about it.

So what can you do when you feel like you have to keep killing yourself to stay up with the Joneses?

  • Lower your consumption of social media and marketing advice, especially if someone is living rent free in your head
  • Write out a simple matrix of “they are better than me because” and “I am better than them because” so you can see the difference between you
  • Remind yourself why you chose this self employment life in the first place. Chances are, it had sod all to do with some self appointed competitor. Pick 3 reasons, write them down and stick them to your wall
  • Take a step back and see their panic for what it is. Once you stop gazing on the guru and start seeing the reality, people often stop being quite so scary
  • Organise (or re-organise) your freelance priorities to suit where you actually want to be instead of where you think you should go as a default setting
  • Start practising gratitude for the things that you have to foster a feeling of abundance
  • Recognise that some people are wired differently. That person may not understand that copying other people or being a self promotion addict is galling
  • Adjust your attitude. It’s not up to use to decide that the way someone else does something is wrong. Only that it’s wrong for us
  • Make being appreciative a part of your daily dialogue. Take the time out to admire courage in others and you’ll start to notice your own
  • Greet losses and disruptions as opportunities to learn lessons rather than taking them personally
  • Go back to basics. Think about the creativity and the ideas that you alone have and cherish them
  • Take a historical look at your business and look where your clients have come from. Get comfortable with the notion that those channels remain open and keep on building

Here’s the final tip: We all have enough going on in our own business to worry about what everyone else is doing. So get back to what you do best and you’ll usually be fine.

Want more advice on kicking the scarcity myth blues? Check out why investing in scarcity myths makes you look like a fool and explore some of the unwanted behaviours it produces.

Be in the room with others that are fighting freelance scarcity myths. Join us at Vivid Ideas on June 7th for ‘the future of work is freelance.’ 


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