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Does Fear Mean You're Not Ready?

In this week’s coaching column, a reader asks "How do you overcome fear and self-doubt so you can take action on your dream? Can you move forward on your dreams even if you have doubt?"

worried woman biting a finger

Dear Desirée,

I recently went off on my own as an interior designer after working for a firm for over 15 years. I know I need to put myself out there and start selling my services but every time I go to put in a call or hire someone to advertise, or even spread the word to friends and family I wonder if I’m ready.

Maybe I need more experience? What if I get in over my head on a big project I don’t have the right skills for? Or maybe I need brush up on my sales skills before I can confidently take this next step? I mean, if I’m really ready, would I be feeling this much fear and self-doubt?

Help! I feel like I have Imposter Syndrome! What can I do to overcome my fear and build my confidence? My business needs to make some sales soon if I’m going to make it.

— Hopeless in Houston

Fear, friend and foe to us all when we start taking real steps towards our dreams. Our gut instinct is to give into it. To wait on doing the thing until we feel more ready, until we figure out some way to get rid of it.

That's because fear is a bit of a trickster, often selling us an enticing bill of goods, meant not to move us forward, but to get us off the path all together.

We think it’s telling us that we’re not ready, but what it’s really saying is that we are, it's just that we really care about this one. It’s important to us, and we don’t want to fail, even if that means avoiding doing the task in the first place.

The seductive part of fear is that hides behind thoughts that seem perfectly reasonable about why we aren’t ready. We don’t have quite enough experience. Couldn’t we just go back tow working for the firm for one more year? Maybe two, tops? Or as you mentioned, maybe I just need more skills in selling myself. Wouldn’t a webinar fix that?

It feels like you’re taking action, like you’re moving forward on your dream, but what you’re really doing is stalling. You’re treading water, not doing the one thing that you know will actually push you forward, even though it’s scary.

If we picked these thoughts apart you could easily see the holes in them. You say you don’t have as much experience as other designers, and yet… How else will you get the experience without pitching yourself and selling more of your services? Particularly, experience as a solo designer and your own boss.

And let’s not discount the considerable 15 years of experience in design you already have. That’s not nothing. Sure, someone may have more experience than you, but they don’t have *your* specific experience nor your specific talent or expression, or eye.

And as far as getting into projects beyond your scope, what is the worse that could happen on a sales call or design pitch? You talk to them, realize you don’t have that level or kind of specific expertise so refer or join forces with someone who does. That seems pretty simple on the face of it.

I hope what you’re seeing here, as you read this, is that you don’t need to shore up your confidence here, or get more experience, or take a sales webinar.

And, no, fear and self-doubt aren’t signs that you have imposter syndrome or that you aren’t ready. In fact, the fear and nervousness you’re feeling are signs that this is exactly what you need to be doing right now.

You’re about to take a big, beautiful, and necessary leap of growth, right into your future, and your body knows it.

What you need to do, is commit to taking this step, and accept that you will feel nervous, scared, vomit-y and completely under-confident as you do the thing — in your case put out your first advertisement, ask for referrals from friends and families, and start to make design consults and pitch your services. And I happen to have two tips to help you.

1. Make doing the scary a thing a “win” no matter how it goes.

Promise yourself that no matter what happens you will see it as a win and a growing experience. Don’t beat yourself up if you say something awkward or don’t close the deal. Instead, celebrate the fact that you did it!

Celebrating will keep you moving forward and doing the scary thing until it becomes the new normal.

2. Shift your focus from you to them.

Stop focusing on everything that could go wrong for you. Instead, focus on how you can help them. Focus on showing up and serving their needs. Whether that’s you helping them create a beautiful space they love, or referring them out to someone who's is a better match. Or making a great suggestion they’d never would have thought of on their own.

You have an obligation to show up for yourself, and to try to be of service. And that’s it. So let the rest go.

I hope that helps and hey, if you happen to need someone to hold your hand, and work through self-doubt a little more in depth with you, I’m here for you!

A life coach can be a great cheerleader, accountability partner and can help you celebrate all those wins. Not to mention work through all those pesky fear-inducing thoughts.

If you’re interested in working with me you can contact me at: or use messenger here on Facebook or Instagram! I love helping people just like you!

And with that, I’m off! I will see you all next week in the meantime here are some other articles you might enjoy:

If you’d like to write in a question for coaching feel free to message me on Facebook or email me at

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