Fake It Till You Make It?

Have you ever heard the expression “fake it till you make it”?

It’s common advice for what we’re talking about this week: gaining confidence.

It’s also great advice if you take it the right way. It doesn’t mean you should pretend or exaggerate what you are capable of.

That’s why I rejected this advice when I first heard it. I thought I was supposed to “fake it” to trick other people into believing I had “it.” Because I didn’t feel comfortable with this strategy, I waited for confidence to find me instead. It didn’t work.

Finally, I began to understand “fake it till you make it” doesn’t mean to call a potential client and pretend to be someone you’re not. It doesn’t mean that you exaggerate your ability to write.

Instead, you pretend to be confident, successful, and professional – even if you don’t feel those things. Basically, act like you’re successful – instead of timid or afraid.

A lot of this “faking” goes on inside our heads. What happens if you call a client thinking, “There’s no way they’ll hire me. I’m wasting my time”? Your negative feelings will cause you to act self-conscious and could cost you the client.

Instead, try thinking: “I am a professional providing a professional service.” You’ll interact with your prospect with confidence, and it will show in the way you speak and act.

If the client wants your services, great! If not, it’s not about you. It’s not a personal rejection.

Thinking this and other positive thoughts before taking action should help you get in a good mood. A positive mood means you’re more likely to smile, sound confident, and put the client at ease.

Today's action item: Stop negative thoughts. Every time you think something negative, stop and replace it with something positive.

Maybe you think you’re not a good writer, and that’s stopping you from moving forward. Replace that thought with something that proves you are good – like a compliment you received from someone in the past.

If you know how to write copy, give yourself a pep talk and reach out to a potential client.

If you’re just getting started, don’t think about the things you lack; instead, think about all the exciting possibilities the writer’s life will bring you. Then remember, if other people can do it, so can you!

Go here to comment, and let us know how it goes.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about another kind of “faking it till you make it” and how it can help you quickly become more confident.

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Published: February 12, 2013

18 Responses to “Fake It Till You Make It?”

  1. Christina,

    Thank you for this well-timed message! Today, was one of those days for me, when I was caught in a "feast or famine" cycle of thought. Then I read your email and it occurred to me that I never have to experience this because as a freelance writer, I have more control over my finances because it's within my power to go after my goals!

    Guest (Tess C Taylor)February 12, 2013 at 1:51 pm

  2. Thanks so much for explaining "fake it till you make it" in such detail, Christina.

    I've heard other successful folks say the same thing, but a bit differently. You should conduct yourself and make decisions based on your destination - not your starting point. Staying focused on your goals instead of your circumstances pulls you forward towards what you want. And that's really what it's all about.

    Thanks again for the great article!!!

    RNin2013February 12, 2013 at 3:20 pm

  3. Yes, yes, yes! On my first meeting with my very first client, I did exactly as you describe. When they asked for my rate, I confidently (while quaking on the inside), replied, "$75 an hour." (I've learned since then to quote by the project instead whenever possible.) Without blinking, my client said, "Okay. When can you get started?" I was reaffirmed that I had set the proper rate when I heard back that the CEO had raved about my work. I went on to earn thousands from that client. Woot!

    Guest (Gina Kellogg)February 12, 2013 at 3:38 pm

  4. Christina,

    As with so many super articles from AWAI, your message reminded me...it's not just me. Not just me who feels like a fraud, who freezes up when I go to write, who is scared to death to market myself, and so suddenly gets inspired to clean my fridge.

    This week I started a "Confidence File" to keep copies of your tips, and ideas from other writers who have "been there." If I get overwhelmed, I will have encouragement at my fingertips.

    Thanks for the great series.


    Guest (Janet Wolfe)February 12, 2013 at 3:41 pm

  5. Thank you very much Christina,

    I am very new at writing but always wanted to know how to write better and know someday I'll make it thanks to the discovery of your site a few months ago. Now I have to practice more and write my blog about alternative health.
    I like this part about your email today:If you’re just getting started, don’t think about the things you lack; instead, think about all the exciting possibilities the writer’s life will bring you. Then remember, if other people can do it, so can you!

    Carmen SFebruary 12, 2013 at 4:11 pm

  6. Thank you for sharing this, Christina. I struggled with this message as well, but then I realized what you were talking about after I had a client jilt me out of almost $1000 of work. The next time I had to deal with a non profit as a client, I was terrified that they were going to pull the same stunt, but I didn't let that show. I just acted confident, asked them my questions without making it sound as if I was attacking them, and took it from there. Everything clicked for me after that.

    Jessica B FryFebruary 12, 2013 at 4:25 pm

  7. Hi Christina

    Thanks for this article: "Fake it till you make it"....

    I was hired by a company who needed a Pressure Pipe welder...first day on the job I was taken to: an area where a 8 inch diameter steam pipe needed to be fixed...the boss asked me, if I could fix the steam pipe...which required a welding job to withstand very high pressure...I said: "yes"...they all looked at me and laughed......
    I'm only allowed 500 characters here and this story will take much more....

    WinfieldsbestFebruary 12, 2013 at 6:48 pm

  8. Oh yes-I understand this. Implementing it is difficult. Having a full time job and regular income and a family depending on me and my income causes my feet to be superglued to the floor. Need for replacement income. Need for belief that I CAN make a replacement income. Need for the confidence or the balls to just TRY in my nonwork hours part time. I have to take the steps to prove to myself that I CAN and that I WILL. I need to do more than just visualize it. Thanks for this Fake It Make It piece. I needed it.

    Guest (Karen)February 12, 2013 at 9:40 pm

  9. I find that keeping words of encouragement and positive thinking around my work space and my home helps to keep negative thoughts and fears at bay especially when any form of rejection shows up. What I have taped to the top of my computer screen is the following: "What is called for is faith. Faith enough to work further, Faith enough to invest more, Faith enough to risk again."

    Guest (Natalie)February 12, 2013 at 9:57 pm

  10. Hey Christina,

    I've always been confident in my writing abilities, and since starting my freelance business, I've never questioned whether I would be successful. I have, however, questioned my abilities to effectively market myself. That's where "fake it 'till you make it" comes in.

    My ritual is to imagine them as nervous and anxious as me, and keeping my voice strong and even during the conversation. Fortunately, they can't see, or hear, my knees knocking during the telephone conversation.

    Guest (Tom S)February 12, 2013 at 11:19 pm

  11. Excellent tips!To believe,internalize and act as per the destination is the best way to go.
    Thanks Christina!

    Guest (samuel maina)February 13, 2013 at 1:47 am

  12. This is exactly what I did when I first started out. I acted as if I was successful, and here I am going strong 5 1/2 years later. Start imagining the life you want.

    Guest (Leisa Good)February 13, 2013 at 10:05 am

  13. Wow! This article really hit home this morning. I had heard this phrase often enough and found a lot of the people using it didn't actually know everything... they knew the people who did. They taught me how to focus in on what I did know and figure out the rest as you go. Thanks for the reminder on this one. Very important advice.

    Guest (Loralei)February 13, 2013 at 10:34 am

  14. Terrific article! I, too, have tried the "fake it until you make it" approach but always felt -- well, fake! Like Janet, I've got a "confidence file" that I refer to every time I prepare for a presentation, talk to a client or something else where I don't feel I've got what it takes. I'm also reading a book called "Act Like You Mean Business" which provides more helpful tips. Thanks Christina!

    Shawn MausFebruary 13, 2013 at 1:36 pm

  15. Thank you for the comments everyone!

    Christina GillickFebruary 13, 2013 at 4:53 pm

  16. Wow, 'Fake it till you make it' is a wonderful article that has taught me to have the confidence that though i have just started, i can make it.

    Thank you once again for sharing this helpful information.

    Guest (Martha)February 14, 2013 at 3:35 am

  17. It sounds so true, Christina. Thank you.
    I've been a translator for many years and even though I still enjoy it, the money is disappointing and I find there's little creativity involved. I'd really love to write, but as I have not 'produced' anything yet, I'm finding it hard to know where to start.

    Guest (Rob)February 14, 2013 at 3:37 am

  18. I know I can "fake it til I make it" because I overcame social reticence that way.

    Guest (caldwallace)February 16, 2013 at 8:38 am

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