At the end of last year, I was hit with a hard reality. My biggest client, who made up about two-thirds of my income at the time, was making budget cuts — and I was one of them. I remember staring at the computer screen, reading that email over and over again. It took me a few minutes to process what this meant for me and my career. I started running the numbers in my head, realizing how much of a financial hit this was going to be. I started obsessing about what I had done wrong and berating myself for putting so many of freelancer eggs into one basket. I sat there slumped over my desk, not wanting to move or acknowledge what was happening.
Rejection stings, and when the rejection is about your work and your business, it feels especially personal. A single rejection can shake you to your core, but there are ways to make sure you get back up. Here are the steps I used to not only help my business recover after rejection, but to truly thrive.
You Have to Feel It to Heal It
Reading that email was a terrible feeling, and I wanted to immediately escape it. I thought about pitching myself to hundreds of companies that second, or just quitting altogether. I did not want to feel that pain, and I wanted to just think and act over it.
However, once I took a deep breath and sat with myself, I started to realize that this could be a gift. This job had not been without its downsides. I had started to feel nauseous every time I checked my email, because I knew there would be edits and criticism waiting for me. I had been feeling like I was constantly working, but not making the kind of money I wanted. It still hurt, but I was able to see the smallest streak of light behind the clouds.
It Starts with a Decision
After allowing myself to wallow in shame and self-pity for a weekend, it was time to get my mojo back. Deep down I knew that this rejection could either break me or propel me forward. Only I had the power to decide which path to take.
When my husband came home from work that night, I looked him in the eye and with as much gusto as I could muster, and told him that this change was going to be the best *expletive* thing that ever happened to us.
I had no idea how, but I knew I was done playing the victim. Even as I said it out loud, I started to believe in myself.
Your Comfort Zone is No Longer Comfortable
Once you decide to use your rejection as a launching pad, you realize that it’s no longer safe to just play it safe. You can now move forwards or backwards, but staying the same is not an option.
I could have gone back to pitching myself for the same type of inconsistent work that had nearly given me an ulcer in the months prior, but I needed to move on. I decided to join a mastermind, because I knew I was going to need support on this journey. It felt insane to make that kind of investment after losing a huge chunk of my income, but because I had taken the time to feel and process the situation, I knew it was right.
Be Open to the Possibilities
A funny thing happens when you stop playing small and step outside your comfort zone. As soon as I decided to move on, new opportunities starting presenting themselves. Old clients suddenly emailed me with new projects. Friends referred me to bigger and more exciting work. I even did some writing for members of my mastermind. Once you let go of what isn’t working, you make space for magic.
Bet on Yourself
You are a glorious human being who is on this planet for a reason, and ONE rejection from ONE client should not and cannot stop your mission.
Rejection is part of owning your own business, and you are the only one who gets to decide how it’s going to affect you. I suggest you embrace it and bet on yourself, because who else can give the world your unique gifts?
And as far as my business goes? Well I’m working fewer hours while making the same amount of money and quickly growing. You never know what’s on the other side of rejection — but your efforts are going to be worth it.