I often tell the story about how I jumped into photography and succeeded in less than a year. But I rarely mention the fact that it took me the same amount of time to decide to leave my boring corporate job and start my photographic journey.
Like so many others, I was scared of failing. The thought of leaving my stable income, career, and comfort to jump into the unknown terrified me, and I couldn’t move forward. But a simple conversation with a random stranger on a trip in Spain was all I needed to take the scary leap.
I took the risk, followed my passion, tried to brush aside the fear (and failed many times and survived), and learned a few things along the way.
Here’s how I was able to overcome my fear of failure:
Look more closely at the fear and the worst-case scenarios
Take a moment to sit down and think about what prevents you from moving forward. Fear of failure can have different aspects. Are you afraid of losing all your money in a risky business? Are you afraid of being embarrassed when you put your work out there? Afraid of never improving yourself and being stuck with bad photos? Identify what really scares you and ask yourself: What is the worst-case scenario?
We can be so creative when it comes to thinking about what could go wrong, but never about what could be great.
Worst-case scenarios rarely happen. Be prepared, put some money aside in case of emergency, create an anonymous profile if you’re afraid of embarrassment, practice every day if you’re afraid of never improving. The biggest obstacles we encounter on our journeys are the invisible blocks we put in our own path ourselves.
Break everything down into smaller tasks
When I first started photography, I wanted to become famous, talented and rich, and be featured on magazine covers. My goals were so out of reach that I remained paralyzed and couldn’t start anything. Just like climbing a mountain, it’s easier to focus on taking one small step after the other and move forward slowly but surely.
Cut your tasks into much smaller and realistic pieces of tasks that you can accomplish every day. Put a handful of photos on stock agencies and see what works. Set smaller income goals every month and work on reaching them instead of dreaming of fame and fortune. Start with local newspapers and magazines instead of dreaming about National Geographic covers.
Use your failures as stepping stones
Here’s a fact: You will fail multiple times. Everybody does.
But real failure is not in falling down, but in not picking yourself back up to continue your journey. If you cut your tasks into smaller chunks, your failures will be less painful and much more manageable, and you’ll use them as stepping stones to pave your path to success.
Learn from your mistakes, try something different, and try again with a new perspective. You’ll move forward with a determined and confident outlook – and that’s how we succeed.