What to Do When You’re Paralysed with Fear and Can’t Take the First Step

I met for coffee with one of my readers today. She wants to start her own freelance writing business — has wanted to for years, in fact — but she’s never been able to take the first step.

Because she’s paralysed with fear.

Because she’s a perfectionist and doesn’t want to get it wrong.

Because she doesn’t know what she’s supposed to do first. Or second. Or tenth.

And she’s not the only one. I hesitated when it came down to starting my business. Not for years, but certainly for months.

When you don’t know what’s going to happen when you do a certain thing, it makes you not want to do it at all. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you start thinking about how things will turn out.

So my advice is to not think about how it’s going to turn out. Put your blinders on. Keep your head down. Watch your feet, not the horizon.

Because who the fuck knows what will happen even six months down the line, let alone five or ten years.

You need to accept this truth: you have no way of knowing what is going to happen when you start down this path. And then you need to start down it anyway. Because you will DEFINITELY never know how things will turn out if you don’t even fucking try.

Christ, maybe it won’t work. Maybe you’ll decide you don’t like it after all, or that you’re not good at it, or that you’d rather do something else. Is that really such a big deal?

Shit no. It isn’t. Because this is your life, and you get to decide how you play it. Who gives a flying saucer if your colleagues see you “fail”? (Fuck failure, by the way — to my mind it doesn’t even exist, but that’s a topic for another time.)

Because let’s be honest, committing to something big and audacious and daunting is, well… it’s big and audacious and daunting. IT’S SCARY. IT MIGHT NOT WORK. PEOPLE MIGHT LAUGH AT YOU (they won’t). YOU MIGHT HAVE TO SUFFER IN THE FACE OF THE “I TOLD YOU SO” ASSHOLES.

Well, whatever. Just don’t think about that right now. Any time a “But what if…” shoves its way into your brainhole, push it right back out again.

I’m serious. Those thoughts in your brain? You’re the one putting them there. And you can decide not to think those thoughts if you want.

Just give those thoughts the old, “Nope, not now — I’m busy doing this thing.”

Stop thinking about what people might think.

Stop thinking about what will happen if it doesn’t work out as you planned.

Stop thinking about what you’ll need to do in five years.

Stop thinking about what you’ll need to do tomorrow.

And start thinking about what you need to do right now.

See also: Take it Slow — How to Start Your Business When You’re Scared You Don’t Know Enough

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