The Fear of Putting Our Work Out There

By Leo Babauta

One of the most common fears of anyone who is creating something, whether it’s online content or art or a new business or startup … is the fear of putting our work out there in the world.

It’s a fear that has us procrastinating, researching endlessly, checking social media, answering emails, buying books on the topic, listening to podcasts and watching Youtube videos, cleaning our kitchen, deciding the laptop needs a good cleaning … endlessly!

None of these things are wrong or bad — they’re so human! But it’s a fear we have to face at some point if we ever want to make an impact on the world.

I’d love to share how I work with this fear — I’ve been doing it for decades now!

The brief summary:

  1. I have a litmus test: if I’m not creating or putting the creation out into the world, there’s a good chance I’m procrastinating. (There are exceptions of course.)
  2. If I’m avoiding, then I create space to face the fear and create and put it out there.
  3. Then I face it. And play with it. And learn to relish it!

I’ll dive more into this below …

The Core of Our Fear

What’s so scary about putting our work out into the world? Well, we don’t know how it will be received by other people — it’s full of uncertainty, and we don’t like that uncertainty.

They might judge us, dismiss it as having no value, think we’re stupid. We’ll feel embarrassed or rejected. This uncertainty is too much to bear for many people.

And yet, as understandable as that is, this fear will shut down the possibility of having an impact on the world. Let’s let our hearts be broken by that shut down possibility.

And let’s connect to the impact we’d like to make — would we like to move people’s hearts, change people’s lives, open their eyes to something new? How delicious!

Facing the Avoidance

In order to face our fear and what we’re avoiding … we have to know we’re avoiding. So the first thing I do is ask myself, “Am I creating right now, or putting my work out into the world?” If not, there’s a decent chance I’m avoiding out of fear.

There are seeming exceptions of course: collaborating with others in team meetings (I would argue that’s creating), coaching (that’s both creating and putting my work out there), research (but keep it to a bare minimum, most people procrastinate by researching more than is needed). We have to do admin work and emails too — but if I haven’t created today, then I know I let my day get filled with administrative busywork instead of focusing on the thing that matters.

So once we see we’re avoiding creating and putting it out there … it helps to create structure to face the fear.

If you’re avoiding creating: set up a daily session to feel the fear and then create. Not research, but actually create. Do it on a video call with others, if that helps, or get an accountability group.

If you’re creating but avoiding putting it out there: commit to doing it in small steps. For example, send it to a group of people you trust. When that gets easy, send it to a larger group. Then put it into other communities.

Work on the muscle of creating, and putting it out there regularly. Every day.

Join me in my Fearless Training Program if that’s the kind of training you’d like to do. Let’s make an impact together.

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