Starting new things can be scary, whether it is starting a new job, moving to a new city or meeting new people. All new things require some level of risk, and some of us are risk averse. We avoid it at all cost. We like to stay in our own little bubble and do things we are already familiar with or have experience in. But if we want to grow, we have to be willing to step outside of our comfort zone to expand the breadth and depth of our experiences.
So why are we so afraid to start new things?
There are many reasons why we’re afraid to start new things. But I will only cover three of the most common: rejection, failure and shame.
Let’s first talk about rejection. It means being dismissed because you do not fit into someone’s predefined standards. We want a new job but we do not even apply. Or, we might want to meet someone special but won’t create an online dating profile. In both cases, rejection is holding us back because we don’t want to be rejected by that potential employer or by people on the internet. Rejection stings because it feels so personal. In our minds, we’re likely to think, “I’m not good enough,” or “I’m not pretty or handsome enough.” One rejection stings but have you ever had multiple rejections? It can be pretty tough – tough enough to keep some of us on the sidelines and out of the game altogether, no matter what that “game” is.
One way we can look at rejection, though, is to embrace it. I know that sounds crazy but think about it. If that opportunity was truly meant for you, then you would be enough – smart enough, funny enough, qualified enough. Otherwise, you’d be a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. We have to have the mindset that sometimes a door closing is the best thing that could happen to us. It usually means that we’re that much closer to the right opportunity. I read somewhere that young adult authors were rejected by publishers 5-9 times before they secured their first book sale. Get this… 8.5 percent received 100 or more rejections before selling their first book. The lesson there is that they didn’t let rejection stop them. They kept going until they got their “YES.”
Second, let’s talk about failure. Failure is another deterrent to trying something new. I will have to admit that failure almost kept me from starting this podcast. Failure means “a lack of success.” It also means, “falling short.” And I thought that failure in the context of this podcast would mean either no listeners, or very few listeners. But the more I thought about it, I realized that there was no way I could truly fail. Because if I had zero listeners, yes I’d be disappointed, but I’d also feel a sense of satisfaction that I did something I always wanted to do. I had an idea and I took it to task. I’m not just a dreamer, I’m a doer. I could also learn from that “failure.” I could evaluate what I’m doing and then make some changes. And if that doesn’t work, then I’d make some more changes. I’d make more changes until I’ve exhausted every option. And even if I tried everything and nothing worked, I could walk away knowing that I did just that… I tried. It just might not have been for me. And that’s okay!
Or, even if I had five listeners, I could rest in that fact that I could be making a difference in someone’s life. And at the end of the day, that is my goal – to spread positivity and encouragement. And if just one person walks away after listening to just one episode of this podcast feeling positive vibes or encouraged, then this podcast would be a success.
Did you know that 20 percent of small business startups fail in the first year? About half fail within 5 years and by year 10, only about 33 percent will have survived. Failure is a real possibility, but you have to look consider, what would failure look like to you. And is that really failure?
Some people are afraid of that shame and embarrassment that comes along with failure. I’ve read a few of Brene Brown’s books. She researches shame for a living. According to her, shame is “an intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” People feel this way because they are worried about what their friends or family might think. Or maybe even their colleagues who are successful in the area they could fail in. They think, “Oh I’m even going down that road because the second it doesn’t work out, I will be the laughing stock of the country club.” They won’t even take the first step because in their mind, they’ve already failed and now people are laughing at them.
Let me tell you something. To start anything, especially that requires putting yourself out there, is hard. It takes guts. It will consume your mind and keep you up at night. You will wonder what people think – what they’re saying about you behind your back. You will second-guess yourself. People will criticize you. You will get your feelings hurt. That’s the ugly truth. But, the people who love you, who care about you and want what is best for you (the people whose opinion should really matter to you) will push you to keep going, encourage you, compliment you on going after it. And they will love you no matter if it works out or if it doesn’t.
How can I get over the fear of starting something new?
It can be hard moving past the possibility of rejection, failure and shame. But it is possible. People do it every day, and you can too! I’ve got three ways to do it.
Number one: start small. If you want to start a business, maybe not get a lease on a storefront right out the gate. Try selling product out of your home, or even online at first. I read an article about how some of the world’s largest companies started out in a garage. Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft all started in someone’s garage and now look at them! Small wins during those humble beginnings catapulted them to where they are today and will give you the confidence to take the next step.
YOU WILL MAKE MISTAKES
Number two: accept that you will probably make some mistakes – and that is okay! You will be wading through new waters and so you are bound to step on a rock or two. You’ll go left when you should have gone right. You’ll say no when you should have said yes. And God forbid, you may even do something that makes the news and you’ll have to issue a formal apology. The important thing is that you learn from those mistakes. You (and whatever it is that you’re doing) will be better off in the end.
MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS
Number three: manage your expectations. It is okay to set goals, but be realistic. I may not reach 1,000 listeners on my first podcast, or ever! The average podcast gets around 27 listens per episode. That’s it. The top 1 percent of podcasts have almost 3,200 listens. It’s rare that a podcast gets millions of listens, and if it does happen, it’s because that person likely already had a following. It takes time for people to learn about your podcast, your business, your product, your book. And you have to account for that.
Starting something new can be scary. Fears of rejection, failure and shame may creep in. However, don’t let that get in your way. Sometimes, there’s nothing to it but to do it. Stop making excuses and allowing yourself a way out. If you will start small, accept that you will probably make mistakes and manage your expectations, you will start that new thing that could possibly change your life!
Here are your positive affirmations to ponder on this week:
- I am not afraid to start something new
- I am always improving and learning new things
- I know what changes I want to make in my life and I will start today
- I am on the right path
- I am opening the door of my life and welcoming in positivity
- I will not let fear hold me back