How to get over the fear of starting
Updated: May 29, 2020
Picture by Andrea Piacquadio
Depending on what you're trying to achieve, the word "start" Starting often implies you intend to finish and finishing carries the weight and expectations of producing something good.
My process usually begins with a crazy idea, this could be anything from an Instagram post, short film, blog, etc. As I mentally rehearse the idea, it usually picks up momentum, getting bigger, sometimes more complex—but always comes with a healthy dose of excitement. Sadly, ideas also come with an expiration date. If I fail to execute this idea within a certain timeframe, it starts to build up the lactic acid to creativity—fear.
Will people like it? Will anyone read it? Will they share it? Will they care?
All these questions, assumptions and expectations soon start to choke the excitement. Doubt soon wraps its cold arm around my shoulder and with a cheeky grin says "get off it mate, nobody cares now. Save yourself the trouble and do something else". This sucks. It reveals I care too much about what people may think, to execute the idea. I've become emotionally compromised. Ever been there?
The video below is an example of a crazy idea that almost never made it public. I doubted its relevance and upon reflection, it felt too silly. But I put my emotions to the side and released it. It did very well! All smiles.
If you're struggling with starting—take your place in the queue. You're not alone. I want to share some thoughts, ideas and mental hacks that may be helpful when you're stuck.
Don't make it personal.
Ultimately creativity is for service. Naturally, as human beings, we become too emotionally invested when making decisions about our work. Our egos want everything we make to be beautiful—but we soon loose zeal, because what we create never looks/feels like what we imagined. We let beauty and perfection stop us from starting. However, if we begin to view what we make/do, as a call of duty to our fellow man—it takes on a new meaning. It becomes more about obligation and less personal.
So try to visualise your work as a service—become your customer/client. Make it a business...nothing personal. This means the quality stays high but emotions stay low. If you were being paid to create it, there would be a sense of urgency and you would at the very least attempt to make a draft, sample—something. If it helps give yourself a deadline and make yourself accountable to someone who will put you in check and not babysit your emotions. Create your client. Be serious. Mean business. Deliver!
Just do this.
The most common advice we hear and give to anyone struggling to start is...Just do it. My problem with this cliche phrase is not its lack of originality but that it comes with the assumption that people know how to do it. Most people don't. They may express all the symptoms that follow encouraging statements, like nodding their head in agreement or profusely thanking for you stating the obvious...but they don't have a clue where to start.
Just do it...is too broad, so I suggest you "just do this". Break down your "it" into smaller chunks that you can handle—yet still challenge you. This hack helped me produce more social media content in 5 months than I did in 2 years. I wanted to be express all my creativity in 2020, make movies, tell stories and put good things in the world. Yes, it sounds like a great new years resolution but what does that really look like? Sounds like a lot of work—and it is.
So, I decided to give myself the challenge of posting on Instagram every day. This was my way of breaking it down into small chunks. Just tell a story every day. I started with small doodles/sketches, then short videos on creativity and now it's developed into tutorials, motion graphics, website and now...blogging. It works!
Just do this—simply means reducing the size of your "it". It's being specific, not general. We overestimate what we can achieve in a day and underestimate what can be achieved in many days.
Will it be easy—no. But remember, if you can emotionally distance yourself from what you're creating by seeing it as a duty, calling—a business, then it won't personal.
And if all fails. Just do this.
Hey, if you enjoyed this post I'd love to know what you think in the comments below. And if you want to share it...because you are an awesome human being, I will understand.