Overcoming Fear of Failure

I am not a loser. Not exactly. While its true that I’ve spent the vast majority of the last year doing nothing related to writing, editing, freelancing, building my brand or platform, or virtually anything else related to my chosen “career”…I’m not exactly a complete failure. But up until a few days ago, I might not have been so sure.

Two years ago I published my first novel and jumped into the world of Indie Author Awesomeness. I set up my website, I started a blog, created a conservative social media presence that consisted of Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest and…thats about it.

So yeah, definitly not a failure. Despite doing literally nothing I’ve still sold a couple dozen books this year. Now, a rival to JK Rowling I am not. But thats pretty good for not trying, I think. And I havent been trying.

But why wasn’t I trying? Somewhere in the last year I’d decided not quite failing was good enough, and I wasn’t sure when that happened.

That was the question I pondered on a recent road trip I took from Chattanooga to Kingsport, TN.

The answer seems obvious at first. I’ve just been too doggone busy. In the last 12 months I’ve moved to another state, started a new job, attempted to start yet another side hustle career as a Spanish interpreter, hosted half a dozen friends and family who have visted our tiny one bedroom apartment, put a little over 30,000 miles on our car and washed approximately 123,275,445 dishes.

Those reasons sound really good in your head whenever a Facebook message comes across asking when you’re going to publish your next book and you start feeling guilty that you’re not even done writing it. But those reasons weren’t really reasons…they were excuses.

The real reason I’ve done so little to further my entrepreneurial pursuits came to me recently when I was reading a blog post about writing for your ‘niche’ over on Day Job Optional. The blog post was talking about how to choose your niche, why it’s so important, and so many other valuable pointers that…I already knew.

You see, I’m one of those people who likes to over-prepare. I’m a planner with a plan. I have a backup and I have a backup for that backup. Its not that I don’t know how to be spontaneous, but I really like to have a safety net. And when it came to starting my own business, I have tons of ideas, but very little follow through. Writing my book took years, publishing it took slightly less time than that, but I haven’t done much of anything since. Because how could I possibly move forward until I know every single tip and trick there is? Until I’ve listened to every interview, read every blog and planned for every outcome.

I’ve researched, I’ve read, I’ve joined Facebook groups and mailing lists. I’ve listened to podcasts and I’ve created my plan, but I haven’t actually done very many things. And now I know why.

I was afraid I would do something wrong.

I didn’t know what my niche should be. I didn’t have clearly in mind exactly what my brand should represent. I didn’t know if I had the appropriate expertice to put my opinion out there on any of the many things I’m passionate about. Honestly, I’m still not sure.

I’m also not going to let that hold me back anymore.

When I got into bullet journaling, I heard a lot of youtubers and bloggers talk about not being worried about your spreads being perfect. They encouraged newbies to just jump in and have fun. I had no problem following that advice when it came to my bujo. I have no problem deciding I don’t like a spread and moving on to the next page, leaving that imperfection forgotten, pressed between the pages. But I wasn’t able to operate with the same reckless abandon when it came to my side hustle. What if I changed my niche after two years of building my website around one idea? What if it turned out I didn’t have that much to say?

Fear of failing held me back.

So, instead of failing, I somehow, subconsciously, decided not to even try.  Not to worry about it. I would never make a living as an author, oh well. There are probably a lot of things I’ll never do. I decided doing my 9-5 at a doctors office as a medical biller and coming home to veg on the couch and play Farmville was probably good enough. I decided it was ok to be a loser. I didn’t really believe it, but as they say, fake it till you make it.

I’m not sure this is what they meant.

However, since I still harbored entrepreneurial yearnings, I liked to listen to a podcast called “How I Built This” from NPR. Guy Raz picks a different successful entrepreneur every week and interviews them on how they created their business, or businesses (I’m looking at you Richard Branson) and how they overcame the challenges along the way.

You guys, this podcast makes me so giddy. Every time I listen I have to talk myself out of just quitting my job on the spot and pursuing my dream(s). Hearing people like Kate Spade, Yvon Chilliard (owner of patagonia, this is my fave episode) and those two guys that invented Instagram talk about failure somehow really inspired me. They talk about how hard it was, how many times they thought they’d blown it, how unprepared they were and how, a lot of times, that was kind of a good thing. And it got me thinking.

Maybe, just maybe, making a few mistakes would be a good thing for me too. Maybe if I was a little more willing to make a mess of my dreams, I’d get closer to achieving them.

So this blog is a new beginning. It’s not attached to my website and theres a few reasons for that that I may delve into later. The goal of this blog is to remind myself, and anyone else out there that needs to be told, the only requirement for pursuing a side hustle is passion. You don’t have to be an expert, you don’t have to know what you’re doing. You just have to want to. And you have to keep trying.

Thats what I’m doing. I hope along the way I can learn from my mistakes, and I can share those lessons with you and you can go out and make different mistakes and together we can learn and grow and turn our respective side hustles into our full time careers.

So what are you into? Are you a writer? A designer? Do you have a really cool idea for a product or an app but have no clue how to implement it? Me too! Lets talk, lets learn together. It’s really easy to get in contact with me. You can email me, or comment below, visit the contact page here or my website. I’d love to hear from you.

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2 thoughts on “Overcoming Fear of Failure

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  1. I am somewhere around half or quarter (I really don’t know at this stage) on learning how to become a writer, I tried blogging and I’m not really good at it but I take it as a learning curve. It’s good to find other people who are learning. Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

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