As online entrepreneurs and digital nomads, uncertainty and fear are companions in our daily lives.
Will our product/service catch on? Will my new book or online course be successful? Will my Social Media marketing campaign pay off? Are my customers going to like my product or am I going to be shred to pieces? And, ultimately, will my clients really pay me?
Those are only some questions that online entrepreneurs/digital nomads deal with on a regular basis…and they can be quite intimidating.
When I first started striking out on my own online, I was like “Holy shit, what if that doesn’t work out? I have invested all this time and money, what if my clients hate what I do? How do I make them happy? What if blow this project and my reputation takes a hit from which I won’t be able to recover?”
In my mind, I would go through all kinds of worst-case scenarios from which it would be very hard to bounce back. Devastating, worst-case scenarios, really. Like, having to sell my computers and phones in order to be able to buy food. Looking back, though, those thoughts were utterly irrational and, frankly, nonsense. That being said, though, uncertainty and fear can be overwhelming for people that striking on own their own in the online world.
The goods news, however, is that I can tell you from my own experience: If you have such thoughts, if you feel overwhelmed by the task at hand, you need to realize that there is a very high possibility that you are being overly dramatic and exaggerating. Worst-case scenarios, or “What If”-scenarios very rarely manifest themselves in life, and certainly should not be entertained in your mind. “What If”-examples include: “What if my marketing campaign doesn’t pay off?”, “What if my clients don’t like my product?”, and “What if I can’t sell more of my stuff”, and also: “What the hell am I doing here?” etc. You get the point.
“What If”-scenarios are mostly extremely negative, rather improbable scenarios that can sap your energy and ambition, and, potentially, affect your decision-making negatively. And that’s where the danger is. Thinking through “What If”-scenarios (and thereby validating them) is utterly unproductive and unhealthy. It certainly won’t help you achieve your goals and deal with the uncertainties of online entrepreneurship.
If you catch yourself thinking negatively and unproductively, if you find yourself going through imaginary scenarios of utter failure in your head, if you overthink every decision you make as an online entrepreneur, STOP.
Stop entertaining these thoughts. Regain control over your thoughts. You have come this far, you will make. Treat yourself a bit more kindly than you used to. I know it’s difficult to control such thoughts because I have been in that position myself, but it is quite possible to push back against these thoughts.
Next time you are feeling overwhelmed by uncertainty and fear, or you find yourself questioning yourself, or want to give up, just talk to yourself as if you would talk to a good friend. What advice would you give your friend in this situation? Would you talk harshly with your friend, or find some kind, encouraging words? Try to be this friend to yourself. Often a kind word and a statement of encouragement are all that’s needed to keep the ball rolling.
Are You Dealing With Fear Like A Pro?
I use the term “fear” loosely here, because it is a broad term that can encapsulate all kinds of fears.
Fear of failure. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of feedback. Fear of getting rejected. Fear of fucking up a project. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of complexity. Fear of losing a client. Fear of making mistakes. Fear of this and that, you name it.
The ultimate question is: How do you deal with fear productively?
I found the most powerful, most effective way of dealing with and overcoming fear, is to confront it head on. Make no excuses, and just suffer stoically through whatever it is that makes you feel uncomfortable. As you endorse the struggle and inconvenience and pain and discomfort, the task will gradually intimidate less. It’s just like dealing with a bully. If you stand up to a bully, the threat will disappear. If you let the bully push you around, he grows bigger in your head, and your fear of the bully will increase.
Oftentimes, procrastinating just makes things worse. A lot. The most constructive response to dealing with fear is to accept full responsibility for everything that happens to you, simply because this mindset puts you in a position of total control.
Fears hold us back from unleashing our potential, they destroy our motivation, paralyze us, and are often toxic influences in other areas of our lives as well. Fears inhibit us. In the worst-case scenario, they push us into depression.
Relax, Fear Is Natural
It is important to understand and recognize that fear of failure is natural, and everyone experiences it. And I mean everybody.
The point is to confront your fears and work towards your goals in spite of them. Learn from mistakes in a professional and mature way. Don’t let your emotions overcome you when you experience a setback. Everyone makes mistakes. Cut yourself some slack. You are not meant to be perfect. The best you can do is learn from your mistakes and use them as a valuable learning experience and stepping stone to success.
Most importantly, don’t be so hard on yourself.