Are you holding back?
Often I hear people say, I want to start that designing business, I want to enroll for that course, I want to apply for that job, I have all the qualifications and I think I’ll get in, yet these people don’t get to doing that which they really want to. Most times, we know what we want, but we hold back because it scares us. What really scares us? Fear of failure? Fear of being judged?
Mark Manson calls it the ‘backward law’ whereby we tend to stay away or refrain from confronting what we feel will shake our identity. I don’t know how long I have struggled with this, knowing that I really want to do something, but finding a thousand excuses not to do it. I think it narrows down to this, I feel so much that it will shake my identity, and humans are naturally prone to resist change.
Are you holding back from doing something you really want to do, and you really know you should? Here are some reasons you are holding back.
You deal with urgent things first
The most common reason for holding back is saying that you don’t have time. True, you have a lot on your plate; from the work that puts food on your table, to family and any other activities. Every day, you wake up saying you will work on your dreams, but really do nothing about it. You work on what’s urgent, but don’t spare time to work on what’s important to you.
You are afraid of failing
Oh, this is a big one. Often we have asked ourselves, what if we try and fail? What’s the point? Fear of failure really is a dream killer. The truth is, you might fail, that is true, but you really will never know until you try. Mark Manson in The Subtle art of not giving a f*ck says; “bravery is not the absence of fear. Bravery is the feeling the fear, the doubt, the insecurity, and deciding that something else is more important.” This means that it is okay to be afraid, but working on what you want amid the fear is what really matters.
You are afraid of being judged
The online community is not kind at all, and thanks to the internet, we now can get judged by people we don’t even know, and they don’t know us either. Fearing online trolls is a genuine fear. So is the fear of being judged by those around you. If you have worked in a career that’s not mainstream (you’re not a doctor, accountant, lawyer, etc.), you must have experienced judgment from some people around you who really don’t understand what you do and still think you should go out there and get a real job. Even when you have a solid career, you must have experienced judgment, say when you want to leave a job and have no idea what the next one holds. You get comments like, why don’t you stay in that one? The pay was good and better the devil you know….
The truth is, you will always get judged, and if you allow this to dictate your life, you will always be second guessing yourself. Garry Vaynerchuck says, “Act first, ask for forgiveness later. Don’t ask for permission.” If you continue caring what others will think of you, you will worry about it forever, people will always think something of you, and not necessarily nice things.
You criticize yourself too much
Sometimes, we are our own worst enemy. It is good to have high expectations of ourselves, but not always good to expect perfection from ourselves. That is not fair at all. If you are constantly critiquing yourself, you will never get anything done because you will never achieve your desired level of perfection. For example, for the longest time, I always felt that I was not in a position to advise others. I kept telling myself, let me earn my masters first, let me read some more and learn some more. The truth is, I will never be as well-read as I would like to be, but I can spread what I have learned as I continue to learn.
Self-doubt/ impostor syndrome
Too much self-criticism goes hand in hand with impostor syndrome. The more you over think about situations, the more you doubt yourself and feel as if you are not good enough. You feel you are not good enough to apply for that position, get that promotion, start that business, and get that acting role. Impostor syndrome is when you feel as if you’re a fraud and you are not the person you think you are. Funny enough, even the biggest and most admirable stars sometimes feel this way. If you allow self-doubt to gnaw into your insides, you will hold yourself back from so many things you should be doing.
You feel entitled
Is it possible that because you are smart, or hard-working, or prayerful, or have faith, you believe things should come your way. Or make a little effort and expect things to flow on from there. Maybe you have a talent, and for sure, you are superb at what you do, but how hard do you work on it? In her book Grit; The power of passion and perseverence Angela Duckworth says the achievement is as a result of skill and effort; and skill is developed from talent and effort. Really, talent is not enough, you need a lot of effort to go out there and get what you want.
You wait for motivation
Waiting for inspiration and motivation to do what you really need to do will hardly get you to do anything. If you only work when you are motivated, then you are treating your career as a hobby and not a professional job. If you wait for motivation to make that pitch, write that content, you will have to wait for quite some time. The best part of what I do for a living includes writing. Sometimes I wake up and feel I really don’t want to write. However, I got to work, and even when I am not motivated, I get into it and before I know it, I am in the flow and write more than I expect I would. Don’t always wait for motivation. Get working, and little by little you will be a step closer to what you want to do.