Leap into the lake

I want to help you stop being fooled by your fear of putting yourself & your work out there, so you can recognize what’s slowing you down. 

Sure, it’s the distractions of everyone working from home, kids invading your office, and the stress of the coronavirus, but plenty of other women are using this time to build products and courses.

You might be like many of my clients and deny that you have any fear around putting your thoughts, your words, your self out into the world. You tell yourself that you just like things to be perfect before you release them.

I’ve seen too many brilliant women hesitate to share their ideas and creativity. I recognize it because I was there for a really long time. And truthfully, I’m still not all that comfortable sharing. But I’m doing it – I’ve been writing consistently for seven months now. It’s not a lot of time, but it’s enough that I’ve learned some things. 

And the biggest lesson is that there was really no reason to wait.

Why fear of putting yourself out there is a problem

I’m not sure how many of my clients have thought about what holding back costs them.

Your message can’t help people if you don’t publish it

I can’t tell you how many blogs I’ve set up for clients over the years that still have less than three posts. I can imagine the same goes for podcasts, video channels, all kinds of projects. Entire email campaigns go unsent and digital products never see the virtual shop shelves. 

Think of all the people who need that information though. How can you help them if you’re not willing to be seen? How will they know to find you or that you’re the right one to help if you don’t say so and show them? 

You’re doing the world a disservice if you don’t get your information, talent, creativity out there for people to find. They’ll have to do without or work with someone who’s only a partial help.

There’s a point at which it’s unlikely a project will ever be launched

It’s very easy to convince yourself you’re working hard by hiding in the details of a project like color selection or wordsmithing. And to some extent, those things need doing. 

While there are exceptions, I find that when a client wants more revisions than we originally agreed to, or they change direction mid-project, the likelihood of completing the project plummets. Those clients that launch successfully are ones that launch when things are good and know that improvements can be made along the way, after launch.

I don’t mean that someone has to be careless to launch, just that after a couple of rounds of reviews and revisions, a project is generally ready to go. And any further work is simply a stalling tactic.

Meanwhile, successful business owners are writing and attracting an audience, and modifying as they go. They know that they can always make improvements and an online project isn’t a “build it and done” project. So they adjust as they go and learn from their audience what adjustments will make the biggest impact.

Recognize the fear of putting yourself out there

Signs this might be you

If you’re thinking that this might be what’s holding you back, here are the signs I see in clients and that I have recognized in myself.

Nitpicking

Do you fuss over every detail on a project? You might be proud of your attention to detail, but does it go too far? Have you ever lost out on an opportunity because you nitpicked your own work to death?

Don’t fool yourself that more fussing will make something better. Like in a drawing or painting, you can reach a point where your projects are “overworked.” If you’re working with a professional, trust them to let you know when it’s ready to launch. You can always add and subtract and fuss after launch. 

But no one can see your work until you do launch. That means they can’t have the benefit of your work and you can’t get paid for your work if you don’t launch.

Repeatedly asking others for opinions

Before you get all worked up – there’s nothing wrong with feedback! Sometimes it’s essential to see things you miss by being so close to a project.

But asking again and again is another procrastination technique. Your brain is scared to launch so it secretly wants another person to find something else for you to fuss with on the project.

Also, if you act on every opinion you get, your project will be off the rails in no time. When you hear an opinion on your work, think about it and ask yourself about that opinion. Is it from an expert or your grandmother who’s awesome but only goes to the Internet for online bingo? Even if an expert gives you their opinion, don’t follow blindly. Ask yourself if their opinion makes sense for you. 

Do you complain that nothing’s ever right?

Does the timing always seem off for a launch? If you always have a worry and a reason to wait because of external factors, you’ll never get started. 

It’s always near a holiday (just check the grocery store – I think they’re getting ready for Halloween now in April). Politics is always in an uproar. People are worried about world events and flu season and the new school year constantly. These aren’t reasons to wait.

Think about the fact that most people who try to time the stock market just right end up losing, and the woman who automatically drafts 10% of her paycheck to her retirement account ends up a millionaire. The same principle applies. You have make those regular contributions to the world to see a return.

Why you’re afraid

I see this often when a client is launching something new, rather than a redesign or relaunch. They get anxious about what’s going to happen.

Fear of uncertainty

You just don’t know:

  • if you’ll keep up with content creation
  • if the audience you’re targeting is the audience you will have
  • how maintenance of the site is going to impact what you create for it.

And no one loves uncertainty. But a professor once told me that being able to handle uncertainty will lead to success in most things. I don’t think he meant that we had to embrace the uncertainty, but we had to get comfortable working around it and in spite of it. 

Fear of ridicule

“People will make fun of me!” is a HUGE fear. And goodness knows there are millions of angry little trolls on the internet ready to call things names. It stings, but the antidote is asking yourself if their opinion is one that matters to you. Ask yourself if what they’re saying is actually true.

If you do get some mean criticism, or someone being ugly to you, ask them to show you their blog post on the subject or their video. Maybe they are an expert. But that’s doubtful.

Anyone who is an expert and is putting themselves out into the world is going to know how hard you’ve worked to do what you’ve done. They will cheer you on. If they do disagree with you, they’ll be respectful. You can listen to those comments and think about whether they’re true for you. 

I can honestly tell you that your trouble will be getting things read, not that millions of people will see what you do and make fun of it. 

Fear of real work

Here’s a pretty sneaky one. “Now I’ll have to do the work.” Ouch. But it’s so true. We get so worried about all the work we’re going to have to do in the future because of what we put out there that we hold back.

Partly, we don’t really want to do the work. But mostly, we’re making up work in our heads because of uncertainty about the future. We don’t know what it’s like if we have products out in the world. We stop a launch because we don’t want to end up doing hours of customer service or we imagine all the return requests, and that seems like a nightmare.

I’ve found that the true hard work is showing up every day and being consistent. For any unknown troubles like customer service, there are so many solutions that can be found via a quick search. So, if you’ve made it as far as a launch or releasing content regularly, you have what it takes for the next step too.

Solution

So far, the only solution that I’ve found to work is to do it anyway, even though I always fear putting myself out there. My mind can work around and game any system or tactic I try to put into place. 

Hopefully, recognizing that you are actually afraid to put yourself out there will prompt you to question that fear and work around it.

Photo by Erik Dungan on Unsplash

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