Is fear holding you back from starting? Maybe you consider yourself a writer, photographer, crafter, painter, blogger, graphic designer, artist, or some other freelance entrepreneur. But if you’re like me you don’t actually do these things on a consistent basis to feel a true rapport with the interest you identify with.

Sure, I tell myself and others I meet that I like to write but do I? Why don’t I do it very much then? Calling myself a writer just feels wrong. Maybe you feel the same way. Calling yourself almost anything just feels fraudulent.

In this post I cover 6 self-limiting beliefs and how these fears can limit our potential. Is fear holding you back? Before we begin, make sure you check out this list of recommended books for motivation, self-doubt, etc. Also, shoot any book recommendations in the comments.

Books for Motivation – Read towards a New Tomorrow!

The Confidence Gap: A Guide to Overcoming Fear and Self-Doubt
Low Self Esteem, Shy, Insecure, No Confidence? This book will help you better understand your relationship with fear and how utilizing mindfulness can help control negative thoughts and feelings.
A Year of Positive Thinking: Daily Inspiration, Wisdom, and Courage
Easy to read. One Day at a time, 365 days of positive thinking. Reading is a great way to start your day, especially when it gives us inspiration, courage, and the wisdom to transform your life.
Let That Sh*t Go (Zen as F*ck Journals)
A journal for those looking for some playful witty prompts. Warning: Not for everyone, lots of swearing.
The Self Confidence Workbook: A Guide to Overcoming Self-Doubt and Improving Self-Esteem
Great workbook/journal with interactive exercises and relatable character scenarios to help you overcome self-doubt and achieve your goals.

Is Fear holding you back from Starting?

Today, I want to talk about how we, that’s you and me, JUST NEED TO START!

This post is my exact attempt at that, just starting. I told myself I would write today and here I am at six in the morning typing away. I need to write every day. I want to be a better writer. I want to write faster and freer. I hope that this blog will serve as an outlet for that desire.

In the coming weeks, maybe months, and hopefully years I will attempt to fill the pages of this blog. My chosen subject matter will revolve around photography. I wanted to write about something that I have an interest in. Photography is something I’m passionate about and it’s an easy outlet for me to explore.

I also didn’t just want to go on and on about everything and anything because I wanted my words to have some meaning to someone. I wanted my words to offer some type of value. I hope my experience and the words I’ll share with you today somehow awaken the passion lying dormant inside you.

Waking up your Passion

OK, before your passion can rage we need to understand why we let it sleep so long. What is the reason? Is it fear holding you back? Is it fear holding me back?

Hell, are we just being lazy?  Are we afraid? Benjamin Franklin once said, “You may delay, but time will not.” He’s right too, do we really have the time to be sitting here on our hands?

You and Me, We need to act and we need to do it today!

Now maybe you kind of started. I can relate. You know, you bought the domain name for your business and started to build a website. The problem is you’ve had it for over a year and only managed to write a handful of articles and change the color scheme. Better yet, you probably changed the color scheme numerous times after not being satisfied or growing tired of the old one.

Why, because this is the change that’s going to make everything perfect. Everything is going to fall into place after that until…wait, here you are changing it again. You’re stalling, focusing on the irrelevant details that nobody, except you, truly sees or even gives a damn.

You do all this while telling yourself that you are working on your dreams but really you are just sabotaging yourself. Imagine being a shop owner and never opening your doors for years because you are too busy inside painting, and then repainting and planning the perfect grand opening. You keep tidying the place up. You want it to be perfect because this is what’s going to make people show up.

If this is you then yes, fear is holding you back from staring!

This behavior is undermining your efforts to actually move forward. Doing lower value tasks at the expense of more important ones is not a good plan to launch your business. Make it good enough, open the door and start focusing on the reason you are here.

If you want to be a writer, start writing, a photographer, start taking pictures. Start doing what you love and give your audience or clients the things they want. Do it more and do it often without getting hung up on the minute details.

Now that we know this type of procrastination is really rooted in a fear of starting let’s dig even deeper. What are we truly are afraid of? Why are we afraid to start?

Is it Fear of Failure, Fear of Success, or something else keeping you from Starting?

Below, I’ll explore six fears that hold people back from success. These are useless beliefs that we come to accept as truths but in reality, it’s just fear dressed up as excuses.

Is fear holding you back from happiness, success, life? Is fear holding you back from even starting that thing you want to do?

See if you can identify with any of the following statements.

6 Useless Beliefs and the Fear Holding you Back

1.) There are so many other people doing the same thing and they are doing it bigger and better than I ever could. Why would anyone come to me?

OK, this is a thought that I struggle with sometimes. I’m not the best at writing nor am I the best at photography. I’m always getting better though and that is how we should judge ourselves. Don’t judge yourself up against someone else, instead, judge yourself based on progress.

How far have you come? What did your work look like five, two or even one year ago? Look at how your skills have evolved instead of comparing yourself with other people.

It’s OK to look at other people’s work and be impressed but don’t let that turn into a “wow, I suck moment”. Turn it into a “One day, I’m going to be this good” moment.

Also, realize, that no matter your level of skill or qualifications you’re always going to bring something unique to the table, yourself. That might sound like just something to say but hold on a minute.

Being Yourself is your Greatest Opportunity!

Each one of us is a unique person with a unique personality and set of experiences that we carry into our work. Maybe you’re just naturally awesome talking to people, making them feel relaxed and forming a quick connection. This is huge when working with a new portrait client and trust me, some of us regardless of talent will always consider this a struggle.

Furthermore, because we are all individuals with unique personalities, we can be relatable to some and off-putting to others. This is apparent in how we interact with our clients but even more so if we plan to share and teach what we learn.

For instance, if you made it this far into the article you already have some idea about who I am. You’ve begun to see how I relate information and whether or not my approach is suitable for you. I could be the best photographer in the world but if my style of conveying information is abrasive or off-putting to you then we won’t have a great author-reader relationship.

Does this mean I shouldn’t write? No, because my style of writing may be exactly what someone else is looking for. But secretly, I do hope you like me, at least a little bit.

Finally, recognize that we are all at different stages along our journey. You don’t have to be “the expert” to simply share with others what you have learned. Sometimes it’s easier to relate to someone that is only a little bit ahead of you in terms of experience. Someone that was exactly where you are a few years ago instead of thirty years ago. The questions they once had as a beginner are still fresh in their head and they are less likely to overlook them.

2.) Everything I’ve done up to this point has just been luck. I barely pulled it off. This next big gig is going to expose the truth and everyone will realize I have no clue what I’m doing. It’s all just a big Charade.

Wow, slow down there you imposter, we need to check your credentials. Seriously though, been here and I can tell you, Imposter Syndrome as they call it is real. It seems to come and go but the general feeling for me is that I just got lucky. Everything I did up to now was just dumb luck and not because I have any skill or talent.

This feeling then pushes me to work harder than probably necessary. I’m talking overkill, excessive planning, studying and mapping out every possibility. Once I was asked to shoot a wedding and truthfully this is not my expertise but I had a long time to plan and plan I did.

I knew exactly when the sun came up and when it went down. Would it be cloudy or sunny? I had to account for that! What about the venue? I scoped the venue and grounds out extensively on google earth and imagined all the possibilities, both good and bad. OK, mostly bad!

I imagined where people would stand, how they interact with the environment. Don’t believe me, here is an actual question I sent the bride.

Over-Planning Anxiety

Days almost here! So, one final thing that will help me prepare. When you guys get up to the gazebo you said you will be under it as well as all the guests and chairs. What direction will you be facing?

Will you guys and the officiant be facing the same direction as the picture I shared but just further back under the gazebo? Will the chairs be fully circling the gazebo sides then?

I imagine once you guys are under the gazebo I will photograph from outside it on the cement part where the guests are in the photo. Like I shouldn’t be under the gazebo getting in the way of guests I imagine. Seems like it will be crowded under there already?

Ugg, talk about over planning anxiety! I tried to account for everything but despite all my planning I never accounted for this.

You can see the wedding officiant standing in front of the couple being married. It was a definite curveball and I had to do the best I could. 55mm f/3.2 1/1600sec ISO200

Yes, that’s right, the minister stood in front of the couple and all the planning I did sort of went out the door and I was left improvising anyway. I still loved many of the shots I got at the wedding and at the end of the day felt pretty happy with the results considering I have very limited wedding experience.

Thankfully, I was still able to capture some nice moments from the wedding. 55mm f/3.5 1/320sec ISO250

Why is over planning bad?

Now, this isn’t to say planning is not good. I think planning is fine. The problem is that if someone came up to me and said “Hey, want to shoot another wedding” I would think to myself, “Oh my god, I barely pulled that one off despite all my planning. Do I really want to go there again?”

So see, the flaw in my logic is that I attribute any success to all the work and planning mixed with some blind luck and none to my skills as a photographer. This pattern of thinking keeps you stagnant only allowing yourself to pursue the safe low profile work. It keeps you from really putting yourself out there, pitching ideas and publishing that contact page. It keeps you from taking yourself or your business seriously.

Why? Because imagine if someone actually contacts you. Then you have to perform right? You might start thinking, it would be less stressful if I don’t charge very much. Even worse, you might say you will do it for free! Less pressure, less stress right? Can you relate?

3.) I don’t like attention and I feel weird trying to market and bring attention to myself.

Maybe on Monday you’re perusing Instagram and admiring the success of others and wishing your posts could garner the same amount of attention and likes. For some reason on Monday you feel like you can do this, you just need to put in that extra effort. Fear holding you back? No way, you got this, you can do it!

Then Wednesday comes and you feel exhausted. You start to think that this whole competing for attention bit, it’s just not you, it never was. It’s draining and exhaustive. Even if you had a big audience these wild mood swings are just too consuming. How could you possibly feed them something entertaining every day? Do you even want to?

Plus, what happens when the mudslingers show up ready to defame you, tear you down and discredit all your work. I don’t need that in my life you start to think. Maybe it’s easier to just keep things on the down-low. Keep doing what I’ve been doing, keep it low-key, simple, barely a thing.

4.) I want my services to have a luxury price tag but I fear the clientele that comes with that price tag.

Right, assuming all high-end clients are self-centered demanding energy vampires with plastic faces and meticulously impossible needs is a legitimate concern. The reality is, any client can be a challenge to work with regardless of socio-economic class.

You will no doubt come across a client that has completely unrealistic expectations. But think about this, how many times have you come across the client that is more focused on how they could get the same results your offering but for FREE? Isn’t this the most egregious offender of all? To them, your time, energy and effort are worth nothing!

Hopefully, tailoring your message and voice to the type of people you want to attract is enough to keep these interactions down to a minimum. Preferably, crafting a message toward people that are more concerned with results than price will set you in the right direction.

5.) What if I do become successful and I no longer have the time to do the things I’m doing now?

Sure, I get it, I mean imagine one client a month becomes ten or even more. Imagine you grow an audience that depends on you for new content on a consistent basis. It’s yet another expectation to go with the other demands of life.

What if you can’t keep up? What if you no longer have time to enjoy the things you do now? What if you are just working all the time? Success actually sounds kind of stressful right? Do you truly want success and what are you willing to sacrifice to get there?

Is Fear holding you back from starting? Or is it Success?

For example, let’s pretend suddenly your client list is full for the next three months and beyond. What do you see?  Do you see an opportunity or a threat to your way of life?

This is a legitimate question we need to ask ourselves because our time during the day is not infinite. We all only have so much time and we need to prioritize what is most important.

Some of us pursue success at the expense of spending time with our family but justify it in other ways. Look at the house I’ve bought for us, the education I’ve provided. None of this would be possible without burning the candle at both ends.

Some of us can’t imagine not being there to attend every little moment in our children’s lives. We want to be home for dinner with the family exactly at six and be there for storytime when the lights go out on our children’s days.

50mm f/1.4 1/100sec ISO1600

Still, the burning desire to provide more financially is always beckoning. Where is the middle ground they wonder? Maybe if I bust my ass for the first ten years it will just appear. Maybe, or maybe it will just be another vicious cycle.

So then you have to decide. What is it that you want and what does success look like to you? If you find yourself viewing success as a threat to your current way of life then you have to wonder. Are you quietly hampering your efforts trying to get there?

6.) What if I actually give it my all, full steam ahead…and I still fail?

So secretly you’re holding back because if you give it your all and still don’t succeed then you won’t have any excuses to fall back on. You can’t say, well I suck at social media so I never really tried and that’s why I’m failing.

You can’t say I never handed out those business cards, tried to network with others in my field, created a website, stuck to a schedule or routine, answered those emails, or tried to market myself at all.

As long as those excuses are intact and you haven’t completely committed yourself then you still have an excuse to tell yourself. This is why success eludes me.

But here is a terrible truth: A lot of people are successfully doing the thing it is you want to do but they are doing it with less skill, talent and even qualifications. The results they offer are not as good as the end product you could offer but they are killing it. You’re not!

The Truth about your Failures!

The only real difference is that they believe in themselves. They are willing to walk forward with complete abandonment to the voice inside their head. The voice that says you’re not good enough or don’t know enough.

They don’t have all the rules but they will make them up and learn as they go. They will better themselves through experience. But right now, they will market themselves as the person you need to hire today and let’s face it, marketing is everything.

One final thing I want to say about failure. A lot of people fail. Many successful people started by completely failing. How many success stories do you hear that start out with, “Well, it was all really easy and everything I tried just worked right of the bat.”

Like, none right? It’s usually, “Well, at first I was doing this thing, then this happened so I decided to try this instead and it wasn’t working either but I knew I was on to something so I ….”

Failing is the key to Success!

So see, apparently fail and try again is the formula. Sometimes, try again just means stay the course and try something new. But sometimes it can also mean let’s change course, blow it up, and start over with a completely new project.

This is scary and you may feel like your sacrificing all the previous work you dedicated to this particular project but don’t fret. Everything you learned, all the experience you gained, you’re taking it with you into this new adventure.

Mark Twain wrote, “Good judgement is the result of experience and experience the result of bad judgement.” - Mark Twain Share on X

Allow yourself that opportunity to give it your all, to make those bad choices and experience failure knowing full well your cashing it in for experience.


Maybe you identified with one of the above statements, maybe all of them. Maybe you had that “Yes, that’s me” moment but realize, identifying the problem is only half the battle. Whatever the case it’s not easy to just reshape the way you think. This is where having an accountability partner could help.

Many people find it easier to follow through with something when they aren’t just accountable to themselves. Think of a gym buddy or a dieting partner. When someone else is holding your accountable it gives you that extra motivation to do what you said you were going to do.

Some artistic type freelancers may struggle with finding motivation once outside the student-teacher relationship. During their schooling they always had this person holding them accountable, pushing them. There were directions, deadlines, and expectations. Now suddenly they are on their own without anyone to hold them accountable.

So where do you find an accountability partner?

Do you use your significant other? What about your best friend? Possibly, but it might be better to think of the people closest to you as your support cast. These people can cheer you on without the risk of offending you with ill worded advice.

Instead, look at your acquaintances or the people you meet at in-person events. Remember how I talked about attending Meetups as a way to learn photography. It can also be a great place to find your accountability partner. If that fails, look online, Facebook groups, forums, and other virtual communities.

What does an accountability partner look like?

Typically, this person should have similar interests and goals to your own. Better yet, maybe this person already did the thing you are trying to do.

An accountability partner also needs to be dependable. They need to not only offer advice but also be willing to listen to your problems.

Finally, you want someone who’s going to be brutally honest with you but still celebrate your wins and cheer you on.

Realize you need to be the same and take an honest interest in your partner’s progress toward their goals. Together, you should discuss each other’s goals and the obstacles that exist in reaching those goals.

Remember, this is a two-way relationship. I advise you to get together, preferably over a great cup of coffee and communicate the best way you can support each other.

It could be a simple text now and then asking, “Hey how’s that one thing you said you were going to do going? Mind if I take a look?” It could be more.

Books for Motivation – Stop Doubting your Greatness!

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life
Feisty, some swearing, and more humorous than academic. Change your stories, change your life thinking. Great for those trying to start a business, make money but filled with self-doubt.
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” Proven strategies that are both, actionable and practical to help you build positive habits. Myself, huge fan of habits that encourage success!
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book)
A code of conduct/roadmap for life based on ancient Toltec wisdom that aims to set you free of your self-limiting beliefs.
The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level
Discover and learn the pattern of self-limiting beliefs that live within you and go beyond them to liberate your greatness.

Accountability Now – Join the Tribe!

Do you want some accountability right now? Great, go to our private Facebook group, NFT Photography Community and request to join. Every Monday we have a Goals and Ambitions thread. We all share our goals for the week. Little goals and actionable steps are going to help you realize and achieve your ambitions. Come tell us about that!

Once you join please share a little bit about yourself and a link to your blog/portfolio where you publish most of your work. Use #welcome in the post. Thanks!

Also, don’t forget to jump on the email list to get some free Photoshop Overlays and my “very occasional” email. I want to talk with you about inspiration, photography, blogging and just staying motivated.

Is Fear Holding you back from Starting?

Share your experience about Fear, Starting, Failure, and Success in the comments below.

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