Navigating the freelance rollercoaster: how to bounce back when things go wrong

When things go wrong you have two choices:

1) Get angry and blame everyone around

2) Accept it as a challenge that will help you grow

Number 1 won’t get you very far, neither in your business nor in your private life.

Getting angry might help to release your emotions, but eventually switching into the furious blaming mode will only make your life toxic.

If you want to avoid negativity overload, you have only one choice: number 2.

And a golden number it is.


Here is why it’s worth treating difficulties as learning moments in your freelance career:


1. Building resilience

There’s no business that would function smoothly 100% of the time. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating your success and using it as a source of motivation and a powerful boost to your self-esteem. But assuming that the upward trend will continue forever is the first step to failure.

Low and plateau are the other two possible directions. Your business will face temporary challenges or experience periods of stagnation. That’s inevitable. But through those less successful moments, you can build your resilience and challenge yourself to come up with effective solutions. That’s how brilliant ideas come to life. Ideas that would never cross your mind otherwise.


2. Getting out of your comfort zone

Challenges light a fire under you, pushing you to explore uncharted territories: to seek expert advice, team up with colleagues, create new products or services. Each obstacle is a chance to step out of your comfort zone and experience personal growth – as cliché as it may sound, it’s still absolutely true.

But here’s the thing: that comfort zone? It’s pretty darn cozy. Why should you bend over backward when what you have at this moment seems enough? It’s easy to get trapped in that mindset. That’s when you need a wake-up call. And guess what? Hardships are the perfect wake-up calls.


3. Flexing the adaptability muscle

Difficulties teach us to be more open-minded and adaptable. Let’s say your client turned down your proposal – well, that’s an opportunity to explore alternative strategies to reach your revenue goal. If your marketing campaign isn’t effective, you can tweak it until you see the desired results.

Without obstacles, you might never discover how creative and resourceful you are. All you need to do is to stay open to new solutions and find the courage to test them.


4. Learning to let go 

No matter how hard you try to overcome your business challenge, there will be times when you have to accept that certain things are beyond your control. Rather than fretting over the bleak economic situation in your country that seems to undermine your business, you can consider relocating or exploring other business ventures. Some situations are better dealt with when you simply accept them and move on. Fighting against the windmills will only exhaust your energy. After all, everything is temporary.


How does this approach play out in real life?

Here’s a quick example.

Let’s go back to the times of pandemic. Just like countless other businesses, mine also experienced a slowdown during Covid. But I didn’t wait passively for better days, paralyzed by the fear of total failure. After a short brainstorming session with myself, I figured out that I can use this slower time to do what I’d always wanted to do: write a book.

One title led to another, and who knows, maybe a third is on the horizon too. In any case, writing – both for my books, blogs, and Medium articles – opened up the world of opportunities and led to many interesting encounters. This is a perfect example of turning challenging times to your advantage. What’s more, I learned a valuable lesson from this experience, and now I have a solid action plan in place should my business face another sluggish period.

This is how I strive to remain resilient, adaptable, and flexible in my business life.

What do you do when things don’t go as planned?


P.S. Do you want to find out more about navigating through challenging times and learn about other ingredients of a healthy freelance business?

Grab a copy of my new book, “Successful Freelancer’s Mindset“, to discover a smooth road to your rewarding freelancer’s life.



Dorota helps digital brands infuse their content with a local touch. She is a localization consultant, translator specialized in IT, prompt engineer, and a book author. Dorota teaches online courses on localization, writes for her blog and a Medium publication. She also runs a Small Biz AI, a Substack newsletter for freelancers and small business owners ready to discover handy AI tools.