You’re on the Right Track if You’re Scared
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. . . . You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
- Eleanor Roosevelt
Getting inspired is easy. Getting excited is easy. Feeling ambitious is easy. Actually working on something we really, really want to turn out fabulous? That’s horrifying.
It’s intimidating to take steps towards anything that we care about. We can practice not caring about an outcome, but when a pursuit is important to us, we want it to go well.
WARNING: Wanting something to go well can easily prevent it from happening at all.
We can try to remember that we never have to show our creations to anyone else. We can always scrap something and start over, yet we’re often terrified anyway.
This internal struggle just means that we care.
The more important an undertaking is to us, the more we care. The more we care, the more petrified we are to actually put in the work. The more petrified we are to actually put in the work, the more likely it is that nothing happens. The more nothing happens, the more life becomes a boring yet painfully anxious string of wanting to do things and never doing them.
It feels safer to remain a dreamer than to risk our dreams being shattered by taking tangible steps to making them a reality.
But being scared of working on the projects that we care about is not a problem that needs fixing. In fact, it’s incredibly beneficial once we learn how to use it.
If we recognize our trepidation as an indicator of what we care the most deeply about, it can become a trusted guide.
Fear bubbles up from deep down, delivering a direct message to us from the core of our truest dreams and passions. The message reads: “This is what matters to you. This is what you should be doing!”
Our dread is a built-in compass. It calculates what our creative priorities are for us and points us towards the activities that will make us feel the most alive. Choosing to work on the item that scares us the most will lead to the richest sense of satisfaction.
The compass is always working. It’s our choice to follow it or not.
If you’ve ever gone down the exhausting rabbit hole of trying to logically decide which creative direction to go, then you know how powerful an asset this guide can be. To find out what’s really important ask yourself, “what am I most afraid of?”
This internal beacon is telling us whatever scares us the most, that’s the project we should be working on. The fear won’t ever go away, we just have to let it be there, and move towards it. If you’re scared, then you’re on the right track!
This is not a new concept. Author Steven Pressfield, in The War of Art, says:
“The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
The beloved, multi-award-winning graphic novelist/author, Neil Gaiman urges:
“Whatever it is you're scared of doing, do it.”
In other words, fear, once an enemy, can now be your friend.
Let yourself be scared. Notice it. Recognize it. Sit with it. Soak it up. Work with it. Know that it’s pointing you towards what matters to you. If you’re scared of what you’re doing, then you’re doing the right thing.
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