Feeling the Fear: Putting Big Ideas in Motion

By Michelle Edgemont. Photography by Justin Hackworth.

As a creative, my list of big passion projects that I dream to accomplish one day is always growing. I’m sure yours is too. Many of them, more like a huge chunk of them - are terrifying. Simply thinking of the amount of work, to-dos, information, and money it will take to put a big idea in motion can stop it before it even starts.

I’ve learned a few ways to recognize this fear, work through it, and take those first steps towards accomplishing a giant goal. Fear is often seen as a negative, as something to run away from, as our gut telling us not to do it. In terms of business decisions, I don’t agree. With these following tips, I’ve learned to feel fear, to embrace it, and to turn fear into a positive instead of letting it cripple my big ideas.

1) Identify what your fears are and why they exist

  • Fear of rejection: You have a dream to be a contributor to your favorite blog. You have some out-of-this-world ideas that you know would be perfect. Why haven’t you submitted the ideas yet? Fear of rejection and judgment take over and stop you from hitting the send button on that introductory email.
  • Fear of uncertainty: You want to write a book but know nothing about the book industry, how to start, how to use Word, or even how to start a new document in InDesign. Fear of uncertainty creeps in and you never start figuring this book thing out. Your idea never comes to life.
  • Fear of loss: Your idea for an iphone app will most definitely sell a billion copies and make you a millionaire. Although, it will take hours of man power and thousands of dollars to get off the ground. The fear of losing time and money puts the brake on what could be an industry-changing app.
  • Fear of Failure: You love graphic design and want to take your blog to the next level by taking photoshop classes. Fear of failure takes over and you end up not signing up since you are afraid that you won’t be able to figure out the program.

2) Crush you fears:

  • Stomp out that fear of rejection and judgment by becoming best friends with criticism. Build a web of others - your peers, your mom, your husband - who will be completely and utterly honest with you. Ask them questions and get their feedback. All projects and websites and ideas aren’t all rainbows and butterflies. The more you hear criticism of your work, the better it will become, and the more comfortable you will be with rejection and judgment.
  • Research your fear of uncertainty away. People ask me how I’ve built a business is such a short time. The top two answers are: internet searches and asking questions. Open up that Bing window and take a few hours to teach yourself everything you possibly can about the big idea you want to set in motion. For example, I want to write a book in 2013. I think I’ve literally read everything on the whole internet about writing and publishing a craft book. In the beginning of any creative endeavor, uncertainty is always there. The more you know about what you are about to dive into, the less scared you will be.
  • Accept the fact that failure might happen. I’m not saying it will. I’m saying it might. The failure of a project is always, always better than no project at all. You’ll notice that your opportunities will shrink or expand in proportion to your courage.
  • Save your money. You don’t want to lose thousands of dollars building a website that you are afraid won’t be successful? Have a back up plan first. Always have an emergency fund. That stash of cash will keep the fear of losing money at bay.

3) Putting the big ideas in motion

  • Make a giant list of all of your big passion projects you dream of seeing to completion
  • Pick the one you are most passionate about and make another list of reasons why you haven’t started yet. Are some of the reasons routed in one of the top four fears? Judgment? Uncertainty? Loss? Failure? Maybe it’s all four fears! I’ve been there, I know what it feels like.
  • Embrace the fear. Feel it. Curl up into fetal position and cry. Go back and read the top tips outlined in this post on how to combat each type of fear. You can do it!
  • Write down three easy to-dos to get your big project up and running. The smaller the better. Make them realistic. For example, you want to write a book and need a publisher. Instead of writing “find a publisher," you could write “search for publishers of craft books, find a contact email for my dream publisher, draft introduction email.”
  • Act on those three easy to-dos. You did it! You felt the fear and you went for it!