The Freelancer’s Stretch Zone

When it comes to adapting to new situations or achieving new goals, many people believe that they have a Comfort Zone (where they feel safe and confident) and a Panic Zone (where they feel scared, insecure and/or overwhelmed). In reality, we all have a third, in-between zone called the Stretch Zone, a place where we feel energised, challenged and motivated to take action.

The Freelancer's Stretch Zone

Our Comfort Zone and our Panic Zone couldn’t be more different (one feels good, the other feels bad), yet they share the same danger: stagnation — the former by leading to complacency, the latter by causing paralysis. Our Stretch Zone, on the other hand, is the zone where we take manageable risks, learn new things and grow. It’s the zone where change happens.

Many freelancers, whether they’ve just started or wish to expand their business, give up on their big goals too soon because of the sense of panic they feel when they think about what they’re trying to achieve. In other words, their “End Goal” is in their Panic Zone.

If you find yourself in that situation, the best way to avoid this sense of panic is to focus on the steps that are going to take you safely and efficiently to where you want to be, ie your “Journey Goals”. These steps will guide you through your Stretch Zone, where you will be able to feel more in control, learn new skills, and increase your confidence.

For instance, if your end goal is to work for direct clients and you’ve only worked with agencies so far, your journey goals will include updating your LinkedIn account, researching potential clients, creating a website, networking, etc.

Each time you’ll reach a new journey goal, your Comfort Zone will expand, pushing your Stretch Zone outwards, until it eventually includes your end goal. Your end goal will gradually seem less scary and easier to achieve.

Expanded Stretch Zone

Take a moment to think about what you’re trying to achieve as a freelancer. What would a 10 out of 10 look like? Write it down on a piece of paper. How do you feel about this goal?

Now think about the different areas you will need to focus on in order to reach that goal? Write them down on your piece of paper. Which area will you need to focus on first? How do you feel about this journey goal? If it still feels too scary, how could you break it down into smaller steps?

How Coaching Can Help:

Coaching can help you break your goals down into manageable steps. Your coach will act as a sounding board using effective listening and questioning skills to support you through your Stretch Zone. They will help you stay focused and in control, thus allowing you to reach your goals more quickly and more efficiently than if you were doing it alone. To learn more about coaching and how you could benefit from it, please click here.

This post was adapted from a post I first published in Coaching For Translators on May 18th, 2015.

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The Freelancer’s Business Priorities Wheel

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