7 Ways to Overcome Fear
Fear is our primal instinct that tells us to run away or hide from danger. Anxiety is different. It can occur whether or not you have an immediate threat.
Fear and anxiety aren’t the same thing. But to many of us, it seems like they are.
Especially when the thought of calling a potential client makes your heart beat faster, your palms sweat, your eyes water, and your throat close up.
Our lives might not actually be in danger when we’re calling a client, but for someone who’s just getting started as a freelancer, it can certainly feel like it.
Here are seven real things I did to overcome my fear of freelancing:
1. Start small.
There’s no rule that your first project has to be a 10-page sales letter or pay $2,000. You can start with small projects and grow as you feel comfortable.
I started freelancing by writing articles. It was low risk for my clients and me. They had a chance to try out my writing style, attitude, and timeliness without having to hand me a huge down payment.
I got to practice pitching clients, coming up with ideas, doing revisions, setting and making deadlines, and writing – and I got paid for my effort.
It was a win-win that I’d recommend to anyone who is just getting started.
2. Do something incredible.
Every time I achieve something that seems really difficult, I feel more confident in my freelance writing.
For example, I participated in National Novel Writing Month this past November. The goal is to write a 50,000-word novel in just 30 days. I had no idea if I could do it or not, but I said I would. So when November came, I wrote. I finished, and I couldn’t believe I did it. Now, I feel like I can do anything if I want it bad enough.
Choose something you think you can’t do – even if it’s not related to writing – and do it. Could be skydiving, trying a unique food, or singing karaoke.
Your confidence will spread to all other areas of your life.
3. Surround yourself with people doing what you’re afraid of.
When we’re afraid of something, it’s usually because we have no experience seeing someone else survive the thing we fear.
To surround yourself with people who are living the writer’s life, check out the Wall of Fame or join us on Facebook or Twitter.
4. Just do the thing that scares you.
When I was in college, I was terrified to drive on the highway next to the concrete barrier walls that they put up during construction. But I had a meeting to go to every week that was about 20 miles down a highway with a barrier wall.
I finally got sick of my fear, and I was determined to overcome it. Every week, I forced myself to drive right next to that barrier. At first, I was trembling and nauseous, but I relaxed little by little. Now, I can drive between two concrete barriers without a problem.
If you’re afraid of calling a client, get a list of clients and call until the fear goes away. It won’t kill you.
5. Hate the fear.
Once you realize that fear is holding you back from success, you’ll start to hate it. You will want to overcome that fear and show it you're the boss.
This means you’ll act in spite of your fear. As you accomplish things you previously thought were too scary, you’ll become more and more confident.
6. Study fear.
I personally thought anxiety was fear manifested. But after studying fear, I learned that was wrong. What I was actually feeling was anxiety.
According to Wikipedia, fear is a basic survival mechanism that comes in response to something specific, like pain. It’s the ability to recognize danger.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is an emotion that occurs with no apparent or immediate threat.
So while it’s our instinct to run or fight with things that make us afraid, recognizing the difference between fear and anxiety can help us take action because we know a lot of things that make us anxious aren’t life-threatening.
7. Realize everyone feels fear.
If you are afraid of something, you are not alone. Every new writer was afraid. Some experienced ones still are. These people had to act in spite of their fear or overcome it. If they could do it, surely you can too.
What can you do to overcome your own fears?
To answer that question, think about how you would advise another person. People are afraid of all kinds of things from ghosts to public speaking. Assuming you’re not afraid of ghosts, what would you say to someone who is? Can you follow that advice to get over your fear?
So how about you? How have you overcome fear? Please share in the comments below.
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Nice list, Christina, thanks. I made a blog post of my own list too. It's true, once you learn how to embrace the fear and go through it, it becomes a jumping point to greater things. Discovering that everyone has fear is comforting!
Michaela Kennedy at Kii Koncepts –
Hi Michaela, Thank you for commenting! I couldn't agree more!
Christina Gillick –
Fear can also be a great metric for your copywriting business.
Personally, I find when I get fearful it's often a sign my business is growing as I face new challenges. Challenges like tackling a new type of project or accepting a BIG assignment.
The key is to, as Christina said, "just do it." Don't let fear hold you back!
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." - President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Steve Coombes –
I'm not afraid, per se, as much as I have some nagging doubts about whether I can interest clients to the point I can lead the writer's life. My expertise is in beverage & dessert formulation, rather than the more popular areas such as health, finance, business, etc. However, writing comes natural to me (I have written short stories and have 3 novels in progress) and I KNOW I can turn out salable copy if given the chance; but so far I'm afraid I won't be GIVEN that chance...
Guest (David M Gray) –
Major confession here - fear has held me back for SEVEN YEARS! I bought the program,very excited to get started, and DID start. But I am afraid to submit anything. I use the excuse that I'm not good enough, but the truth is that the issue is just plain fear. I have been reading the emails and articles all these years. I vowed that 2013 would be different, and I would erase the stigma of 13. I have begun the program from the beginning, copied the major sales letters, and am ready to go despite my fears. I appreciate this article very much!
I use fear to create a alter ego. It gives me a excuse to act and do things I normally don't do. Example, I have a lot of bill collectors that call. I use my alter ego and act like I'm a lawyer and make up a bunch of laws that there breaking. It's funny and it helps me get more comfident. :)
Fresh Rezumes –
Greetings to all, my fear, anxiety, panic attacks, etc began in my developing years. The passing of relatives was always mourned in the home of the deceased.Children had to be quiet and when it was time to go to bury the deceased, we had to first touch the forehead of the deceased. Well,at 5 years of age I had my first anxiety, fear,attack. I have wrestled with this for over 60 years and now it is time to stop the nonsense. Here's to success.
Guest (Viola) –