How Not To Be Afraid: Advice From a New Blogger/Designer
Are you anything like me? You know, afraid of traveling to a foreign country alone, haggling with a car salesperson or going to an important job interview. All those things terrify me. I’d rather stay home with a good book, a cup of nice tea and generally just hide under a rock than do them.
But, fortunately I have ambitions, and just like you, that means I have to overcome my fears.
I’ve seen what it’s like to stay safe, comfortable and unchallenged your whole life, it’s not for me, and if you’re reading this, it’s probably not for you either.
I am constantly at odds. Strangely, a lot like my cat, who is intensely curious about everything but as soon as she sees something unexpected, she instantly jumps four feet into the air, turns around at the peak of the jump, and lands speeding away in the opposite direction. If I knew how to harness the mechanics of her aerial feat, I’d be an instant millionaire. I love her, but I don’t want to be like my cat.
So, I’m left with the question of how not to be afraid to try new things? I recently started a knitting blog and designing knitting patterns. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, but mustering up the courage to actually do it was challenging. To overcome my fear I used strategies and ways of re-framing my thinking that helped push me forward. That’s what I’d like to share with you today, ideas to help you lose the fear that’s holding you back from what you really want.
Have you ever had a dream where you’re stuck on an out-of-control ferris wheel riding in endless loops trying to get off? Maybe your dream is bit different, but it’s all about the fear we have when a new idea comes along. What if instead of letting that fear consume us we stopped to dissect why we’re afraid so we can create strategies to fight it?
I want to share a few strategies that can be used to help fight fear.
Re-Frame your fear
Instead of thinking of your fear as abstract “it’s just scary,” make a mental list of Why it’s scary. Writing something as simple as “I don’t know how it works” can be just enough. Then, do some research and create a list of how each of the steps work. Once you’ve outlined the steps in the process you can focus on learning about how each of the individual steps work. Knock them down by one, like bowling pins. By the end, your “not knowing” excuse will be gone!
Remember that successful people fail. A lot.
When we see successful people we are only seeing a snapshot of their lives: happy, wealthy, good at everything they do, and sought out by others for their expertise and savvy. What we don’t see is the long line of failed attempts they had on the road to that success. We don’t see the struggles they continue to have, to stay at the top of their game or the fears they’ve had along the way. It’s not sexy to focus on fear or failures, but no one has ever become successful without experiencing fear or failing a few times.
What separates successful people from others is they keep on going. They pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and file a mental note about their failure so they learn from it and use the knowledge to become more successful in the future.
See failure is an opportunity for growth
The thing that helped me most in overcoming my fear was refocusing my thinking so I no longer thought of fear as a giant camel spider (warning: do not Google it.). Using what successful people do in learning from their failures, I decided to use each fear as an opportunity for learning and each failure as an opportunity for growth.
If you look at failure as a growth opportunity, then failure is not failure at all but a positive thing not to be feared. Failure brings a unique learning opportunity that you can’t get in any other way – no matter how many books, podcasts, or courses you consume. Going through an experience, especially one that you’ve feared, will give you a distinct advantage over someone who hasn’t learned the things you have along the way.
Remember, you don’t have to be an expert
Another game changer in shifting my thinking to overcome fear was realizing that I didn’t have to know everything about knitting before I started my blog/pattern design business and neither do you. In fact, I’m going to tell you a secret: I’ve never knit a shawl or wrap before. Shocking, I know. But I’ve done other things, I’m learning how to do what I want, and I have some cool ideas – that’s all that really qualifies me, or you, to start. Knowing what we want.
I’ve heard people in small business talk about releasing a minimum viable product – something small like a blog post, pattern, or product that can go to market right away. You don’t have to spend ten years refining and perfect your product. It’s fine to sell fancy things, but not to start. Over time, you can perfect your process and improve your quality as you learn, but the point is to get started now, otherwise you never will.
Go do it
Now that you have some tools your task is to use them. Ask yourself what you want to do, and how you can use these tools to get there. If you’re persistent, wise, and fearless you will be successful, as long as you’re not trying to start up a high-altitude skydiving knitting adventure business (not recommended). Picture yourself with your perfect version of a successful venture, and then realize that each day you’re not working towards that vision is a day in the future that you don’t have it. So get out there and get started!
Lindsay VanSomeren has been a lot of things in her short life: a childhood spelling bee prodigy, an Alaskan dogsled racer, a wildlife biologist-in-training, and most recently the owner of the newly-created Knit Nerd Lab blog and knitting design business. She finds inspiration and humor in science and nature, and brings this to her writing and designs.