“Whatever you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows.”

Michael Landon

Hey Hey Creatives!

In the first part of “Begin before you feel ready,” we explored the most common reasons that stop us from starting something new. We also touched upon why this is happening and learned about quick tips on how to shift the mindset. Today let’s dive deeper into ways and strategies of how to actually deal with all of that! I’m going to share with you things that personally worked for me in the past, strategies that I’m currently trying out as well as insights from other Creatives.

One of my strategies is to begin BEFORE I feel ready. Why?

  • This way you don’t give chance to overthinking kicking in and taking control.
  • The longer you procrastinate and postpone things you want/need to do, the more resistance and fear you will feel to actually start. Fear grows the more time and space you give it.
  • Your mind will always keep telling you that you are not ready yet or not good enough. It will use many different tools to stop you (in order to protect you).
  • Very often just starting and doing something takes much less time than all that time you spend in self-doubts, fears, and resistances modes.

We are learning while actually doing something. Movement generates more energy and creates momentum. I used to live from my neck up, overthinking everything without taking any action. No wonder why I felt stuck. You can’t predict what is the best move before actually doing it. Take a step and evaluate everything as you go. And who knows what or who will you meet on your way? How many new doors will open, opportunities that you haven’t imagined before? That will never happen if you won’t take this first step. Give yourself at least a chance. What’s there to lose? The time will pass anyway and it flies really fast.

The most important is just to start and it’s the most difficult part. Once you begin, something magical happens. After some time, your mind learns that there’s no danger here and it’s actually not so scary after all, so it allows you to immerse yourself in the action. Action generates momentum, more ideas, and different solutions you haven’t thought of earlier. It happens to me every time. The only moment when you fail is when you stay still and don’t do anything. I repeat – The only failure is not doing.

ACTION IS THE BEST REMEDY FOR FEAR

The root of everything that I’ve mentioned in the first post, self-doubts, perfectionism, fear of judgment, criticism, or even success is some kind of fear. We all feel it in different situations and areas of our lives. It doesn’t matter if you are a student, just at the beginning of your journey, or maybe already a professional with a lot of experience. There is nothing wrong with you, you are not weak or broken if you are afraid. You are a human:)

What if we think about fear in a different way? Not like an enemy, but actually a feeling trying to tell us something? Of course, to be clear, I’m not talking about the fear for your life, while facing something really dangerous and life-threatening, but about those internal fears that stop us from creating something meaningful in life. I love this quote from Stephen Pressfield, I often go back to it and I use fear as I guide telling me that this is important, this is worth exploring. The more fear I feel the more sure I can be that I must follow it.

“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good, like sel-f doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

~ Steven Pressfield

Some actionable steps you can take and tips that might help you

1. Journaling

Seriously! Fears are much bigger in your head than they are in reality. I actually don’t know what I really think until I write it down! Thoughts are so elusive and especially those emotionally charged can quickly highjack you and take you into overwhelm land. Find a nice, cozy place, where no one can interrupt you. Sit down, clear your mind… and start asking yourself questions. The mind loves that, once you ask, it immediately starts to look for answers.

You can ask yourself those questions:

  • What is the worst thing that can happen?

Imagine the most dreadful, worst-case scenario that could possibly happen if you move forward with this fear-generating idea you have. Imagine this nightmare coming true. What would you do? Can you come up with an action plan? What would be your first step? Is it actually so so bad and completely impossible to resolve?

Now reverse the scenario… What is the best what can happen? What this all experience would give you? What you will gain or learn? Isn’t it worth it to try?

“No matter what we’re trying to figure out, the biggest barriers are often in our own minds… Fear, like everything else, is figureoutable”.

Marie Forleo

  • In 10 years will I regret not doing it?

Imagine yourself 5-10 years in the future. You didn’t do the thing you wanted, you did not start this big project, didn’t write a book, start a youtube channel, learn how to play the piano, or create a graphic novel…. how does it feel? Would you rather regret trying doing it or not intending it at all?

“Fear regret more than failure”

Taryn Rose

2. Deconstructing

Sometimes the goal is so big that it overwhelms you even before starting. When you imagine how many things there are to do you think it will take forever! it’s too difficult! Deconstructing it into much smaller, achievable little steps really helps. Those small successes accumulate over time, give you confidence and build trust in yourself. Write down all the steps that you need to do to achieve this goal. Brainstorm like crazy, don’t limit yourself. Depending on how long your list is circle 5 to 10 most important ones. Now among them choose one that you can do right now, go and do it! There’s such power in small steps. They can take you further than you’ve imagined at the beginning of your journey.

Here is a special mug I’ve created. I have this daily ritual when every morning I write for an hour while drinking my coffee. Every time I see this cup I smile. Birds are the symbol of freedom for me and when one of them sings to me “Just Begin” there are no more excuses:)

In this blog, I want to give a voice to other artists, creatives, and creators. I’d love to share with you other perspectives and opinions, not only my own. I asked three artists about their own experiences on this topic and here is what they said:

What most often stops you from starting something new (can be anything, a new project, a new habit, launching a product, etc) and then how do you intend to deal with it?

Tom Dale, Illustrator

For me, I find that what stops me from starting a new project or with a new medium is that I don’t have the skill level or the knowledge to make it work how I would like it to go. Take my recent painting I’m working on, for example, I have wanted to make a big scene for a long time but I wasn’t good enough or comfortable enough with anatomy, values, and composition to create such a complex scene and for it to be readable until recently.

So what I did was I made myself do anatomy studies of the muscles, forced myself to do gesture drawing (I rarely do it but it has helped from the small amount I do), and used a lot of references and studies of such scenes and characters. Once I felt like I could maybe do one or two elements I start to plan out what will be required and how I will go about it by doing composition and design sketches and studies etc

Usually, it’s the self-confidence that’s been lacking in the past so now I push myself way more to do and try things I’m not comfortable with and now it seems my comfort zone is the uncomfortable zone! Haha. I tend to put a lot of hours into learning about something and gathering knowledge from various sources before I fully commit to a new project or a new medium like oils. So I will definitely be planning something and it will be happening mentally as I prepare for it but it physically won’t start to be created until a few weeks later or sometimes even 6 months later when I know I will have improved a lot more

Irene Martino, surreal artist, and illustrator

This is an interesting question, I think that what stops me the most is my brain and my fear of failure, of not being good enough yet. I usually overthink certain things – even if I can be very impulsive sometimes – and thoughts can easily become actions. What I try to do is to set small achievable goals so I can actually start and not procrastinate. My mind can definitely be my worst critic and I have to remind myself that starting is the best way to actually achieve something and that most of the time there’s no better time than now. It’s definitely a work-in-progress process. It’s not always easy to push myself out of my comfort zone but committing and trying is my method. Also, rest is very important for me, if I don’t take time off I start to feel overwhelmed and that sensation makes me think that I can’t start anything new therefore taking breaks is a key part of my life. Does it work? Who knows… we will see!

Find Ire on her website www.irenemartino.com or go to her Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/ire.ma/

Rachel Perciphone, artist and illustrator

Usually, it’s my own mindset and anxiety/fear of disappointment or failure that hold me back. After that, sometimes it is a matter of having the time.

One thing I learned in therapy recently that has been helping is to ask what is scarier: doing the intimidating thing or time going by, looking back on your life, and wishing you had done the thing. With that perspective, the idea of potential failure is less scary to me than not trying at all and potentially feeling regret. In a more actionable sense, I love making lists and setting goals! Breaking the larger goals down into bite-sized, manageable tasks/goals make any project easier for me. I set my intentions, my “why”, and personal deadlines and I remind myself of them regularly to keep me on track. I also remind myself to be kind to myself because life happens. One step at a time. 🙂

You can find more about Rachel on her website https://www.rachelperciphone.com/ or Instagram https://www.instagram.com/RachelPerciphone/

SUMMARY

You will NEVER feel completely ready to start doing this new thing that scares you. Many of us creative souls are perfectionists, we deal with self-doubts and different kinds of fears. I think that this is one of the biggest traps we fall into. So often it’s not the lack of skills or competency stopping us from doing, finishing things, and putting them out there, but our own mind. It’s never good enough in our heads. But let me tell you that you don’t have to be an expert to bring something valuable into the world. Each of us is an amazing individual with a unique perspective, vision, and stories to tell. There will always be people who know more than us or have a better skill set but remember that they have completely different past, experiences, and circumstances around them than you. There will also be people who know much less and don’t have the experience that you have. You never know who you can impact, inspire or motivate. We will be learning and growing hopefully for the rest of our lives and each “mistake” or “failure” is helping us on the way, by showing what’s not working yet or what we need to improve. It just means that we need to keep going, finding different ways, strategies, and solutions. Embrace who you are, embrace your own journey.

I’d love to hear from you. What are your own experiences and approaches?

Books I highly recommend

“The war of Art” – Steven Pressfield

“Everything is figureoutable” – Marie Forleo

Marta Witkiewicz

Marta Witkiewicz

Bringing magic into life.

4 Comments

  • danny gilman says:

    Marta,
    i read part 1 and part 2 of “Begin before you feel ready”. These are excellent for me because i often let my mindset talk me out of doing something creative , or just oridinary lifetyle tasks.
    As i was reading your bold posts i noticed you and the other artists have similar self doubts. I am not alone!!

    peace,

    danny g

    • Danny! Of course that you are not alone. We all struggle on different levels and I think that it’s important to share those and keep looking for solutions and strategies together 🙂

  • Natalie says:

    Really nice strategies to overcoming all the self doubts. I am only just beginning to try and learn to draw. Those self doubts practically shout at me!

    • I remember that well. My self-doubts at the beginning of this journey were paralyzing! Unfortunately, they did not disappear completely after many years of creating… I think it’s just a part of creative life and we must accept that they will come and go. It gets better tho because you learn to deal with them faster. Those little strategies really help. I also recommend you journaling! There’s nothing better than good self talk:)

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Marta Witkiewicz

I invite you to take a walk through parts of my world. I hope you will take a spark of magic with you 😉

E: hello@martawitkiewicz.com