elizabeth toller photographer author coach

Are You Afraid to Start?

Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The only thing to fear is fear itself.” 

If fear is the only thing we fear so why are we afraid to start a project? 

Fear is an excellent emotion. It is to protect us from potential danger and keep us alive. So what about starting a new project harms you? If nothing, then what are you afraid of really?  

  • Failure?  
  • Or success? 
  • Commitment? 
  • Putting yourself out there? Or 
  • Not being perfect immediately? 

When I owned my portrait studio, I got stuck in mediocrity and photographed only what sold. My soul ached for creativity but did not know how to move past it. Taking a risk of something new may have affected my income. Moving in a new direction takes effort, commitment, and the desire to work through the pain.  

Most importantly, it takes time. The adages of:  

  • “Nothing worth having comes easy in life”;  
  • “If you fail try, try again”; and  
  • “Practice makes perfect”. 

have become sayings because they are the truth.  

Failure is a path to success.

A change in perspective to see that failure is a learning opportunity. Great things are not achieved without failure. Achievement of goals happens with failure. So many amazing people have failed. Walt Disney filed for bankruptcy not once but twice. Other people who haven’t let bankruptcy stop them are  

  • Abraham Lincoln (Yes! that President),  
  • P.T. Barnum (that circus guy),  
  • George Foreman (love that grill),  
  • Willie Nelson is as famous for his music as he is for his financial issues, and  
  • Elton John.  

Check out Forbes article.  

These people did not get to where they are by playing it safe. So why are you? 

Reframe fear as Thrill.

That first great plunge on a rollercoaster. 

So many great motivational speakers all agree that the only true failure is not starting. Getting out of your comfort zone will have you achieving great things.  

Facing your fear takes its power away and allows you to embrace creativity.  

If not failure, then are you scared of succeeding? Achieving your goals can be anti-climactic. No one will throw you a parade. Most may never know you reached a goal. The celebration is for you alone knowing you have moved past the fear and did something new, or gained a new skill. Those that do are most likely going to ask what’s next as what you have done is not enough. It is. Beware of the haters who come out. You did it and they are all on the sidelines sitting in fear.  

Does it have to be perfect? No. Perfectionism can be a stopping point. You did it but it wasn’t perfect. So what? You did it. Keep going to make it better. The grand master painters did not become who they are overnight. They took lessons from and apprenticed with the masters before them. They painted for years before becoming how we know them today. Dorothea Lange is one of my favorite photographers. Her most famous image of The Migrant Mother was not a one-shot and done. She photographed the mother and children for a few hours. In many different locations and poses before she created that image.  

Remember fear is in your head and your head is telling your body to react in fear. Changing your mindset to realize the power of your thinking. Speaking changes the fear and allows you to be more creative. 

Ask yourself.  

  • What is the worst-case scenario? 
  • What is the best-case scenario? 

In truth, the reality is somewhere in between. On your first attempt, you most likely won’t get your best-case vision. But my money is on that it is not your worst-case thought either. The next attempt will get you closer to your vision. It can change your vision to something more than you thought. 

How to start to overcome the fear?  

  • Start small with one small step; 
  • Accept the fear; 
  • Focus on what you can control; and 
  • Manage your expectations. 

Take Away

Pour yourself a cup of coffee, tea, or your favorite cocktail and plan out the first step to start your project.

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