Working through the fear of getting started

The fear of getting started can be unnerving. Let's take a look at how to overcome that fear and embrace the journey.
Working through the fear of getting started
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Hero image by Neosha Gardner

We all can agree that one of the most beautiful things about doing freelance work is getting to do what you are truly passionate about. Not only are you your own boss, but you are also an artist working in line with the products, the services, the art that you believe in. There is an excitement and beauty in this type of work that draws us in for obvious reasons; but what do we do when we can’t even seem to get started on the path of our own freelance journey? How do we confront head on, the fear of taking the leap and getting out of our own way? 

Well, it’s not an exact science, but there are some things that you can do that might help you feel more ready to finally get started. Whatever this means for you in your freelance work, we are here to walk the journey with you. 

Identify what’s holding you back and just sit with it. 

Our first tip for overcoming the fear of getting started comes more from a therapy session than it does any self-help blog or business-minded podcast. When was the last time you reflected on where you are at mentally, emotionally, or physically in relation to your work? What does success in your freelance business look like to you? Do you truly believe in yourself and the work you want to do?

In the chaos of everyday life, it’s easy to forget to check-in with ourselves. When we intentionally take this time to reflect and process how we’re feeling, we just might uncover what’s been holding us back the entire time. The trick with this tip is to not pressure yourself to act immediately on any revelations you may have. You don’t have to start reciting affirmations every day in the mirror if you find out you struggle with Imposter Syndrome or listen to Brené Brown 24/7 if you realize that shame is what’s holding you back. You can just sit with what you’ve discovered. Get to know it. Find out where it came from. Then mindfully walk with it as you navigate the often-intimidating journey of “getting started”. 

Follow fellow creators who truly inspire you.

There’s nothing more intimidating or uninspiring than when comparison and jealousy form in the pit of your stomach when you’re trying to get started in freelancing or any type of work. As a photographer, I can easily get inspired and become motivated when I see the posts of fellow photographers who I admire. There are also some photographer’s that I have had to actively choose to unfollow because they trigger my comparison reflex. There’s a thin line between creative inspiration and comparison paralysis. I walk it daily. Maybe you do too. In those moments where all we can think about is how another person’s work is better than ours, or how they are significantly more qualified than we are, we have to shut down those negative thoughts. This can be done by telling those thoughts to shut up on your own, or by choosing to unfollow any accounts that consistently trigger such a response.

Approach the process with a growth mindset.

Maybe you’re the type of creator who is afraid of getting started because you are so used to doubting your potential and ability to grow. If so, you might be stuck in what Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck calls a fixed mindset. According to Psychology Today, a fixed mindset is “the limiting belief that the capacity to learn and improve cannot be meaningfully developed”. This type of mindset can easily hold us back when it comes to finally starting anything, especially freelance work. When we see no opportunity for improvement, we end up with no motivation to take the leap. Living with such a limiting belief can be exhausting when the passion to create continues to burn inside of you. That’s why striving for a growth mindset is so important. A growth mindset is the belief that your capacity and talent can be improved over time. If we can adopt this mindset, we can step into fullness and properly care for our dreams. 

Reflect on why you want to get started.

Out of all the tips you take to heart from this article, please make sure this is one of them. Reflecting on the why behind your freelance goals or other dreams/projects, as cliché as it sounds, is essential. We can all get caught up in losing sight of our why. It can easily become clouded by expectations, perfectionism, and comparison. There is a reason why this work is important to you. When you come back to what that is and project that motivation into your work, that fear you may have of getting started just might shrink a bit. Make your “why” central to your work and even the scariest parts of freelancing will lose their hold on you. 

So get started. Just do it, and do it knowing that the world needs your creations. Your work is unique. The pressure of growing through the process will always be better than the pressure of being afraid to begin. As one of my favorite podcasters, Hindz, has said “you are more powerful than you give yourself credit for. We need to stop sleeping on ourselves”. 

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Marissa Morrow
Marissa Morrow is a Colorado native who loves all things poetry, photography and music. Currently a full time staff member with Lighthouse Writers Workshop, Marissa spends her off time doing photoshoots with her husband for their photography business, Morrow Manor Photography, and hanging out with their two cats. Marissa has been writing ever since she was young and finds storytelling in the form of poetry and photography to be one of the best forms of therapy. As a former advocate for victims of domestic violence she is passionate about social justice issues, self-care, and inspiring others with her art.
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