We’ve all had a case of “I don’t wannas” or “I’m too tired” or “I’ll do it tomorrow.” Feeling these impulses as we’re working on any kind project is perfectly normal, but do we push on and complete it? Or do we give in to fear? Don’t you notice that you usually procrastinate when you’re faced with something that you know will be time-intensive or with something that doesn’t yet feel comfortable to you?
I faced a case of the “don’t wannas” this week when I had to work on a new brochure and when I had to create my newsletter. I finished both projects because of my self-imposed deadlines, but I wished I had approached my work with more enthusiasm and had started them earlier. I realize now that I dragged my feet on both the brochure and newsletter since I know I could be judged on my work. Someone might spot a mistake I made and call me out on it. Someone could tell me that I’m not a very good writer/editor if I can’t make everything perfect in my work! But I didn’t let my fear win. I scrunched up my face, turned on Bob Seger and let the work “Roll Me Away.” It’s interesting that this fear of creating anything new can prevent you from completing your project. It’s sometimes called “The Fear of Success,” which is a recognized phobia. According to Michelle Courtney, editor of Triangle B2B.com (business to business) blog, “Usually the people who have this fear the worst have no idea they have it!” Courtney spoke about the Fear of Success at last Friday’s Final Friday Forum, sponsored by Dancing Elephants at the BNC (Business Networking Center) of Cary.
I know that as a creative person I can deal with my fears and conquer them, but this may not be true of others who are just discovering their creative talents. They are undertaking something new and they may fear failure. They may feel that they lack support from their family and friends. Or they may be afraid of making mistakes. Courtney adds, “We’re taught at a young age that failure isn’t a good thing, so we’re not taught to learn from our mistakes. This kind of thinking makes us inert.” And inertia keeps us in place, leaving us unable to achieve our dreams.
Christina Thompson of Summerglen Music wrote this about fear in her new book, Women Embracing Creativity: Unleashing Your Inner Artist.
Just as the pioneers faced attackers on their westward journeys, we may easily be ambushed by fear as we try new things. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to identify fear for what it really is. Here are some common disguises fear wears when it tries to sneak into the lives of creative people:
1. needing to be in control
2. tolerating unhealthy situations and people
3. being resistant to change
4. creating unnecessary clutter, busy-ness or drama
5. making excuses; rationalizing
6. avoiding the problem
7. trying to manipulate others
8. procrastinating
Are you nodding your head at all or any of these? I know that in the past (and probably today, too) I’ll get so busy to avoid dealing with certain things. I’m also trying hard not to procrastinate on projects that aren’t the easiest to start.
So what can you do to lessen your fears? Michelle Courtney and Christina Thompson both suggest you write down specific goals, establish why a goal is important to you and show up every day despite the fear. That means practicing, doing the work, even if it’s not 100% perfect. Courtney says, “Play Devil’s Advocate and ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen?” I say “To Do” lists and concrete deadlines are a God-send.
I know it’s not easy to get out there when we could easily do the same old thing, but don’t you want to be known as someone who is stronger than her fears? I know I do.