Are you thinking about trying something new? Are you putting it off because you're scared? I know how you feel.
I'm in the midst of planning a business launch: the plan, funding, logistics, corralling all of the moving parts, courting the team, and on and on... It's been overshadowed by a tremendous, cumulonimbus cloud of Fear.
I now realize that because I haven't defined it, because I haven't pointed my finger at it and given it edges and a name, it has done a pretty good job of plaguing me. Sleepless nights, untimely feelings of malaise, amorphous inertia. You know the drill.
Then I found Seth Godin's ShipIt Journal and made the decision to fill it out completely. (I highly recommend that you do this as an exercise for whatever creative endeavor you choose to pursue.) It requires you to be honest about your fears surrounding the project, and I promise you will feel better just getting them out of your head and onto the page. Mine are below:
1. What are you afraid of?
- I'm afraid of running the business into the ground if it doesn't work
- I'm afraid of the idea of being married to it for many years if it does
- I'm afraid it is too much of a behavioral change for people to adopt
- I'm afraid no one will pay attention
- I'm afraid I lack the credibility
- I'm afraid that I'm wrong
- I'm afraid people won't believe in me and support me
- I'm afraid that I don't know what to do or who to be, and this is the best I've come up with
2. Why are you afraid?
- I'm afraid because it seems like any positive momentum means I can no longer be an actor, performer, or artist of any kind.
- I am afraid because I don't want to be wrong again. It fucking burns.
- I'm afraid because in the past I've put myself into debt with failed versions of small businesses, and I don't want to be a part of (or spearhead) something else that fails
- Mostly I am afraid because of this incredibly powerful idea I have of myself--which is completely an illusion--of who I think I am and ought to be.
Ah, that feels better!
And you will, too. Because don't these fears sound familiar? We all want to be loved and appreciated and respected, and putting ourselves out there--going public with our ideas and creations--seems like a great way to lose those things.
But at this point I would rather fail than not try.
I've been haunted by a foreboding sense of anxiety when I think of starting this particular project for well over a year now. And although I haven't completely conquered these fears, this simple exercise has allowed me to identify exactly what I'm afraid of and why.
And that is a great starting point for figuring out how to overcome myself and make something great.