Well, last week’s post got a lot of hits so I figured it’s probably a topic that people struggle with or at least are interested in. This post expounds on what I learned during EntreLeadership, not just for writers but also for anybody wanting to overcome their fear & pursue their dream.
For starters, Dave Ramsey said that the number one reason people don’t follow their dreams is fear. He, too, was terrified in his life (a story he told: he was in bankruptcy, with a wife, marriage on the rocks, 4 kids, mortgage they couldn’t pay, being sued) but he kept moving forward.
People are looking for a risk-free environment. They come to seminars and want someone to take the fear from them. They want the risk to be gone. I know because that’s why I wound up at Dave’s event. In fact, 3 out of the 4 people at my table that day were there because they were afraid to follow their dreams (the last guy was there because he “just liked Dave Ramsey”). I wanted someone to make it easier. I wanted reassurance that it would all work out fine. When there’s no risk, you might say, well then I’ll follow my dream. That, the no-risk part, Dave said, is never going to happen.
What you have to do instead is keep moving forward. What I mean by that is to take the next step in the direction of your dream, then the next, then the next. It doesn’t matter how big the steps are. The more terrified you are, the smaller you probably ought to make them in the beginning (but not forever). The point is that you have to move—and keep moving—through the fear.
When you stay stagnant, motionless, your thoughts get the better of you: I can’t, I won’t, I’ll fail, it’s too hard. And so you back off. You lower your expectations. Maybe you stop altogether. But when you keep moving, keep making goals for yourself and then reach them, there’s a little piece of strength added to your plate and a little piece of fear taken away.
How this looks in real life:
- I wanted to make my novel, Small as a Mustard Seed, available as an eBook & I had a shoe-string budget, which meant I had to do most everything myself.
- I broke it down into tiny do-able steps (redo my website, start a blog, make a Facebook fan page, get a Twitter account & learn how to use it, do the cover, format the book, etc) that I did one at a time.
- Was I scared? Absolutely. At every step I felt out of my comfort zone: who am I kidding, I don’t know what I’m doing, what the #$@#! did I get myself into, why am I doing this.
- But I kept going. Sometimes, I took a day in-between decisions to take a breath, but I knew that I wouldn’t give myself more than a day off, that I would keep going forward.
- I set an end date, May 29, 2011, and promised myself I’d have it done by that day.
- I, who knew nothing about HTML, CSS, jQuery, or any kind of web-design language, cruised through forums & learned & made a website myself (www.shellijohnson.com) that I think turned out pretty good.
- I took an online class and learned Facebook & Twitter (& am still learning).
- I learned about royalty-free vs. rights-managed images & licensing agreements for cover photos.
- I took another online class when the formatting of my novel into an eBook fell to pieces a week before the book was due.
- I dealt with problems (yes, there were a lot) as they came up. I did my best not to back down. I took a breath, sometimes two, and made a lot of decisions.
- Did I make mistakes? You bet.
- Were any of them fatal to my dream? No.
- Most importantly, I made my deadline. My book went up for sale & the fear I had when I started in early April was all but gone by the end of May.
Dave said you can’t reach your goals waiting for a time when the fear will subside or the risk will be gone. I can attest to that. Really, in 2 short months, I went from being fearful to being empowered. There’s strength in living boldly. And the best part is that once you knock down the first wall—the one you might’ve thought was impossible to scale, that you didn’t have it in you to beat—the rest of them don’t look nearly as high.