Updated: Oct 8
[ Oh hey, Void. Soundbite ]
Hey there, I’m Amber, and welcome to the Oh Hey Void internet island. Today I want to talk about a little something called, Goal Fear. You know, when you have a project or a goal that just doesn’t seem to happen for some reason. Whether that project or goal is work-related or a passion project you’ve dreamed of since you were a child, I want to know about the fear that comes with it. Is it a fear of starting, fear of failing, fear of finishing, or fear of just having to put some version of yourself into something that will be displayed for others to judge? Where does this fear come from? How far does this fear run? And how do we learn to navigate our way around the emotional sinkhole?
If this is your first trip to the Oh Hey, Void speck of internet vibration this is a podcast where I share the outcomes of the battles I’ve had with my own inner struggles, paradigms, and personality. Because here in the void we believe that by having honest conversations about the life data we collect we have the opportunity to really analyze what humanity is and come up with definitions for the universe that helps us sleep at night.
Before we begin let's get some legalities and definitions out of the way.
You should know that I'm not a psychologist, sociologist, therapist, or certified mediator of any kind. So if what I say resonates with you, cool. Maybe we can trade notes sometimes. What this podcast is going to be is simply an expression of my journey and an analysis of what life data I’ve collected so far. My sending it off into the void of collective consciousness that we call the internet is simply me letting the future know that I was here.
Another disclaimer before we go any further, this podcast will have what some deem “grown-up language.” Anyone who is offended by my favorite words fuck, shit, bullshit, and dick are probably not ready to hear what’s going to be discussed on this podcast. I come from a mindset that language is the way our souls communicate in this extremely physical existence and they’re all beautiful even the ones society has deemed “ugly.”
So if you’re grown up enough to be okay with that, let’s dive right in.
Flaw of Humanity Summary:
While listening to this episode be sure to keep in mind the Four Flaws of Humanity we discussed in episode 1 as it will pertain to how we discuss things today. The cliff notes version includes.
No one knows what the fuck their doing.
Everyone operates from their own bubble
You’re responsible for your own bullshit
Fear Fuels Us… not love.
Keep in mind that being aware of these flaws will help us to better evaluate the topic at hand which is Goal Fear. Spoiler alert this topic would essentially give evidence to Flaws 4; Fear Fuels Us… not love.
SO let's BEGIN!
My Experience w/ Project Failure:
I will be the first to admit that I have layers upon layers of goal fear. It has crippled me through my twenties and is holding on even to this day. This habitual demon prevented me from making major career advancements and put me into a habit of finding new distractions from my actual goals. The beauty of it, of course, is this fear is my own damn fault and creation of my own internal void.
I think it’s important to note that you can totally have goal fear for things that aren’t related to art or creating. You can have goal fear for things like cutting the grass, fixing the deck, approaching your boss for a promotion, starting that work out regimen you bought but never opened, or hell the project of learning how to meditate. Projects and goals we’re talking about can be as big or small as you want.
So, moving on!
What I’ve discovered over the years, is the main layers of my goal fear include my Fear of Failure and Fear of Self-Worth. These two main fears seem to power the sub-fears I have like The Fear of Starting, The Fear of Finishing, and The Fear of Being Judged.
Goal fear encompasses a lot. It’s what I like to call a CLUSTER FEAR. A nice big internal cluserfuck of fear-based paradigms that are put in place to keep you exactly where you are.
Now before we get any further I want to get a little metaphorical with you guys to explain the concept of Paradigms and Fears. Jen Sinchero has an awesome metaphor she calls “The Little Prince.” In Jen’s book, You’re a Badass at Making Money, she breaks down that the Little Prince is that voice inside your head that engages in negative talk. This Little Prince’s job is to keep you safe. And considering you’re alive and breathing in your current situation, that fuckin’ douchebag is going to do everything in his power to keep you exactly where you are - whether you like it or not.
This metaphor is one that really changed my life. By giving a fictional presence to that voice inside my head and understanding the motive behind it I was able to start really identifying my thought patterns that boiled into fears. What happened after I started getting pretty good at identifying my fears was I started wanting to analyze those fears to their main source. By using analytical meditation and actively identifying whenever negative self-talk started I was able to hone in on where my personal cluster fuck of goal fear came from.
Since I can talk about this stuff for hours, for the sake of this podcast we’re really just going to look at my core fears in Fear of Failure and Fear of Self-Worth.
Fear of Failure
Let's start with the Fear of Failure.
I mean, who doesn’t have that one? Chances are if you’re listening to this… you’ve got it somewhere. Maybe you’re holding hands with it and letting it eat off your plate right now. Maybe you have your Fear of Failure demon well maintained and you don’t let it drive, but I find it hard to believe that you don’t have it at all. Unless you’re a textbook narcissist or psychopath or something - then touche, doctor - jokes on me.
Anyway, The Fear of Failure is a huge all-encompassing fear that directly impacts a lot more than you think it does. For me, it’s kind of the subnucleus to a secondary cluster fuck of negatively impacting paradigms I never actually identified in myself until this past year. Two of these little paradigm clusters is the Fear of Starting and the Fear of Finishing.
So, the fear of starting is probably why I’m not any of the things I thought I wanted to be when I was younger. For the longest time, I wouldn’t start things because I had a fear that whatever the project or goal was (writing a book, making a video, whatever) it wouldn’t turn out as good as I wanted it to. Soo… why even start? It was an endless cycle that has probably caused some diagnosed bouts of depression in my life.
I’ve been working on a lot of introspection and personal growth in the last few years, so I’ve gotten really good at recognizing the signs of when I’m falling into a “depression period.” And near the end of 2018, I caught myself nose-diving. So I sat down and evaluated what had been going on. And I realized I was mad at myself because I didn’t actually participate in the way I wanted to with a book I told myself I was going to write - I just didn't start. That sounds so stupid when I say it out loud, but that’s the truth. So, I decided to evaluate okay, why didn’t I start? And at the core of every excuse I gave, I realized it was just because I was scared.
What if the story isn’t any good? What if the book doesn’t sell? What if I piss somebody off or hurt someone’s feelings? What if the science in the science fiction novel is not scientifically accurate? What if ….. Blah blah blah.
All these things I just made up in my head. So …. I had to invoke my Flaw #3: You’re Responsible For Your Own Bullshit and decided that I definitely did not want to be sad about something so silly and just… tried something new and ... started.
By identifying what was holding me back I started writing, I started feeling better, and for a short while, the process was very rewarding.
But then (there’s always a but then) I encountered the second part of the Fear of Failure I wasn’t entirely aware I had. The Fear of Finishing.
Now, this one really interesting because by analyzing The Fear of Finishing I realized I had a REALLY bad habit of starting new projects halfway in the middle of ones that we're making good progress.
For example, in that book, I was so stoked about writing. The epic space adventure I had written over 92k words of in the span of three weeks - yeah… that one stopped in favor of developing/writing/illustrating a children’s book, learning 3d Texturing, learning 3d rigging, and surprise, surprise - starting this podcast.
When I went back to reread those first 13 chapters a few weeks ago, I realized I didn’t stop because the story was entirely horrible or because I didn’t know where it was going. I stopped because I was scared to finish it. I had put the pedal to the fuckin’ metal and was flying through the experience with ease until I gave that internal “Little Prince” some whiplash. And the cycle of negative self-talk echoed in my void so I just ...subconsciously diverted my interests into other projects.
Yeah, so I got over that fear of starting… then my little prince was able to HIJACK the SHIT out of my focus in order to start OTHER projects. Projects that could have been started after I finished the remaining 10 chapters. Projects that… are still… open...and unfinished.
When I realized this, I started my mental work of really analyzing what the fuck my problem was. Why did I stop? I should have at LEAST finished the 1st draft. At the rate I was going I just needed another two weeks to get the words on paper.
The answer every time was that I stopped because if I finished there’s a chance no one would want to publish it, people wouldn’t even want to read it, the financial goal I’d set wouldn’t be reached, and I would 100% fail a miserable, depressing, book launch and all the everybody's I made up in this fake future would judge me so hard.
…. Because, you know, that makes complete logical sense.
Soooo ... then I asked, why I kept falling back on this Fear of Failure. Why do I keep self-sabotaging through high-level procrastination and alternate project starts? WHY IN GODS NAME DID I HAVE A FEAR OF FAILING?
Everything I read on the internet told me that in this new day and age failing fast is the best way to finishing. The best way to make progress. The best way to get products to market! And if I was looking to start building assets instead of taking on client work I HAD TO GET PRODUCTS TO MARKET!
So why was I so…. Trapped?
Well, I was introduced to the other pillar of my tango with goal fear, The Fear of Self-Worth.
THE FEAR OF SELF WORTH
SO the topic of Self-Worth is a HUGE and complicated one, that will get its own episode to discuss in all it’s complicated glory. But for the sake of this episode, I’ll be discussing the Fear of Knowing Your Own Self-worth. Which seems like a strange fear in the beginning, I know.
Now what's interesting about Self-Worth is that a lot of people define it as having Self-Esteem or Self-Respect. For quick definitions, it’s important to note that in our society Self-Esteem is considered your confidence level as it pertains to your abilities and achievements. Whereas Self-Respect is defined by the confidence you have about your morals & dignity within your social environments.
On PositivePsychology.com/self-worth written by Courtney Ackerman, Dr. Christina Hibbert explains this;
“Self-esteem is what we think and feel and believe about ourselves. Self-worth is recognizing ‘I am greater than all of those things.’ It is a deep knowing that I am of value, that I am lovable, necessary to this life, and of incomprehensible worth.”
I know what you’re asking, “Well why would anyone not want to find out that?!”
Well, being someone who actually has a fear of knowing my own self-worth, the fear was from discovering that I actually had a VERY low outlook of myself. For someone who has been able to fake confidence until I convinced the people around me that I had it figured out - I did NOT want to really look inside myself to see what I really thought about… myself. And that was friggen horrifying to realize how deep the paradigm of low self-worth actually was.
The more I dove into trying to gain this deep knowing that I am of value and had incomprehensible worth, the more I realized I had other beliefs in their place. Beliefs that directly fueled every minor cluster-compartment of my Fear of Failing. The belief that I wasn’t good enough or smart enough to share my thoughts and ideas, the belief that no matter how hard I worked nothing I did would ever be worth someone else's' attention, and even the beliefs that my self-worth was tied to the approval of other people.
The list of self-pitying horribleness went on and on and let me tell ya - there was probably a good month or two where I fucking hated everything about anyone who showed similar signs of suffering on the same island of low Self-Worth. Anyone who could express a need to be liked by others, or acted on their own low self-worth issues sickened and annoyed me. Anyone who constantly apologized, or gave excessive excuses for not doing something, or fuck worried about whether someone else liked them - royally pissed me off. Anyone who reflected back the fear I was so desperately trying to navigate through could really just shut the fuck up and get the fuck out!
Cue Evidence for Flaw #2: Everyone Operates From Their Own Bubbles… and sometimes they’re dicks about it. I sure as fuck was, so if you were someone I lashed out on during that time - my deepest apologies, I was having an asshole human moment.
And to top it off. I started to realize how many people I had in my life that I truly believed were allies but they were actually in my tribe of influence because they benefited in some way from my low self-worth paradigms.
Needless to say, it was a brutal Q1 of 2019.
Good news, though, after I got over my anger with myself. Because really I wasn’t angry with the actor friend who was suffering from validation from other’s paradigm. I wasn’t really annoyed by the family members who complained about co-workers not liking them, or anyone else I might have been an asshole to during that time. The truth was I was angry with myself, and in a lot of ways, I was going through a weird breakup with a deep part of me that I didn’t know I had. A part of me that was the source of a lot of my self-frustration.
It was similar to that feeling when you put together department store furniture and you realize you’ve been using all the wrong bolts in the wrong pre-drilled hole because the correct bolts were actually hidden behind an un-torn part of that “materials” tray that comes with it. When you finally realize you’re missing bolts, you spend almost just as much time looking for the missing bolts that you just spent incorrectly putting that piece of shit shelf together!
In a last-ditch effort you start moving (and by moving I mean angrily shoving and flipping over) every possible part, box, foam, and whatever else this demon furniture came with. And then… you find the right bolts.
A sense of relief comes over you that you’ve finally found the fucking problem. But then RAGE… so much RAGE RUSHES through you and you yell, “FUCK YOU BOLTS! ARRRRGH!” And before you throw the materials tray across the room with all the washers you clench your teeth and take in a deep breath, maybe leave the room to take a shot or smoke a join to clear the senses. Then you laugh and you’re like, “Motherfucker that was my fault… let’s try again.”
That…..same journey of feelings is kind of how my emotional process worked itself out during this inner journey experiment. After breaking up with the idiot me who hadn’t realized I was using the wrong tools this whole fucking time I was able to get some much-needed clarity as to why I was holding myself back. I was able to identify that because of my little prince had such a deeply embedded hold on my distorted self worth paradigm I had built-in mechanisms that kicked in once I overpowered my fear of starting. The blatant acts of procrastination, development of excuses, and the excessive project hopping fueled my Fear of Failing in a more diabolical way.
In a lot of ways that Little Prince pulled a classic misdirection on me - while I was over here going, “man I’m so proud of myself I got over my fear of starting…look at everything I started!.”
The Little Prince was like, “Yeah, okay bitch… start as many projects as you want… as long as you don’t finish any of them you won’t find out you actually don’t trust or give worth to anything you do, think, or want.”
Anyway! I’m happy to report I’m doing a lot better. I’m more aware of my self-worth issues, and therefore I’m able to catch myself engaging in negative self-talk, setting impossible standards, or letting others drive my worthiness train. We’ll go deeper into self-worth identification, and paradigm-shifting in a later episode. But what’s important for this episode is that by navigating around the self-worth issues, I was able to start focusing in on ways to work out the various layers under the Fear of Failing.
Now, because I can’t afford therapy, and I really like doing the mental work and research myself, I sought guidance from the collective consciousness void we call the internet.
The first dude that pops up is Guy Winch, Ph.D. He has a brilliant Ted-X talk on Why We All Need to Practice Emotional First Aid as well as a few great articles on the Fear of Failing on PsychologyToday.com. In his article, 10 Signs That You Might Have Fear of Failure, he also talks about two ways to overcome it.
I’m not going to go through the 10 signs, feel free to check out the article yourselves. But the two ways he suggests overcoming the fear itself is;
Own the Fear.
Because the Fear of Failure is so rooted in our subconscious and we don’t even know that we’re partaking in it through means of self-doubt, procrastination, or well-orchestrated excuses, Mr. Winch suggests that we own the fear. Understand that we have a fear and shame relationship with failure and then simply discuss it.
By bringing these feelings of failure to the surface by talking to other people about it you can catch yourself before you self sabotage. While sharing your fear with others you’ll also create a support system with those you can confide in and they can help boost self-confidence and minimize the possibility of being disappointing.
This really worked for me, long before I read this article I made a conscious decision to be open about the paradigms I was working to shift. By talking about them with my partner and talking about them to the friends that would listen I was empowered by the open dialogue that started. People opened up about their fears and insecurities and there was a comradery in wanting to overcome the fear that was crippling a lot of people I knew to even start things. It helped me identify all the negative habits I had formed that kept me from accomplishing the things I wanted to. It also made me more aware that I am not alone in this feeling which was magical.
By discovering and discussing the fear it somehow removed the shame associated with it that usually ended in a spiral of depression and the whole process started again.
Now it’s important to note, that I think sharing is important, but once you start dwelling on it and start seeking emotional sympathy for your fear it becomes this weird crutch. It also kind of turns you into a complaining emotional vampire. So don’t be an emotional vampire, discuss, critically analyze, and move onto Dr. Winch’s step number two as soon as possible.
Focus on aspects in your control.
By identifying and reframing the tasks of your project or goal into situations where you’re in control of them you eliminate the possibility of being able to come up with excuses. You take control of your own situation and are able to start putting yourself out there in smaller baby steps.
In a lot of ways this exercise actually helped me get over that Fear of Starting issue, i mentioned earlier. When it came to writing that book the excuse I accepted from myself was because I didn’t know the first thing about finding a publisher or writing a book that someone else would want to read. So clearly I probably should just not even start.
The way I took back control was I decided I would self publish. For me, it was the match that lit a fire under my ass to actually start writing. The idea that I didn’t need someone else's permission to publish helped me start. Granted, now that I’ve been writing and educating myself on the process of self-publishing, I am more open to and more confident about the possibility of reaching out to publishers when the time comes to look into that part of the process.
It was really interesting just removing the hurdle I had given myself for so many years. And just by taking control of the situation, I was more excited and more inspired to start. Now staying the course is an entirely different conversation, but I started and that’s the first step to any progress. Right? Right.
Another professional article I found was written by Bill Knaus (prn. NOSS). Ed.D. His article on PsychologyToday.com was titled, How to Overcome Fear of Failure. What’s interesting is at its core Bill’s five tips revolve around the concept of Building a Self-Improvement Perspective. He suggests learning how to cope with failure by being open to fail. The short version of his five tips includes;
Pretend to be a scientist exploring who you are as a person. Look at yourself objectively and work to find solutions to your problems.
Ask yourself what actions you need to take to overcome the fear of failure.
Expect the unexpected and you won’t be too surprised when the outcomes you wanted are different.
Ask yourself what your standard of success really is?
Then ask yourself - and this is a direct quote from the article; If you value human worth and dignity, then how do you justify adhering to personal standards so strict that they exclude you from experiencing worth and dignity?
Now, if you’re paying attention, you’ll probably guess that I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was already actively using these five steps without any guidance from a paid professional. As most humans will attest validation in your process or thought patterns is always nice. But what stuck out for me and helped me from this article is step number five.
Aks yourself; If you value human worth and dignity, then how do you justify adhering to personal standards so strict that they exclude you from experiencing worth and dignity?
I was totally guilty of having expectations for myself that were difficult for me to obtain because of my crippling Goal Fear. The fact that I would self-sabotage without even knowing I was doing it was an issue that was rooted in my self-worth issues. I was setting up myself to fail emotionally before I even got started.
It’s a sick and twisted cycle that will probably take a long while to overcome completely - if at all.
But I’m happy to report: this podcast came from that little mental journey into the inner void. Because of my mental and spiritual work over the last year on this very topic I’ve finally started something and finished the first and second episodes. I’ve increased my self-worth bank enough to battle my fear of failure by sharing these extremely deep podcast topics with the internet void.
I’m still working on accepting that my self-worth doesn’t come from my actions or the successes of my projects and goals. I’ll probably always have to remind myself in this technology age of insta-comparison scrolling and hate-liking that the success of this podcast has nothing to do with how many listeners or brand followers we have. This podcast is a success simply because I wrote, produced, and actually fuckin’ posted a new episode and have more lined up for the coming weeks.
But, enough about me…. I think it’s important to be aware that everyone feels these things. Every Fear of Failure comes with a deeper issue that you’re not seeing. Yours might be completely different from mine, due to your own data collection from your own bubble (Hey Flaw#2). But I think it’s important to note that you do have the power to identify whats internally holding you back from the progress you want to see in the world. Identifying the problem is the first step to growth. You just have to be willing to do the work. It’s a big project, but you shouldn’t be scared to work on yourself, or finishing that book you haven’t started, or starting that business you came up with in college, or anything else.
Because… Just doing it and working on it is the success of the project. But the social success of the project or goal has nothing to do with your own value.
You are enough with or without that project or goal.
So what do you have to lose? If it’s something you want - get over it and fuckin’ GO ALREADY!
T-Shirt Sales Pitch:
This episode was brought to you by our IMVYBZ Inspiration T-Shirt line. Today’s episode design is our newest paradigm tee that reads “#FAILTEAM.” Because failing as a teams makes failing alone a whole lot less daunting. If you feel like supporting us please consider buying a shirt and checking out the website at www.ohheyvoid.com
That brings us to the end of our podcast. I hope it entertained, enlightened, or enraged you. Sparking thoughts and feelings are a good thing no matter how you look at it. It reminds us that we’re alive and in this together.
Until next week may your stress be minimal, your self-inflicted hate be productive, and your attempt at love be boundless. I’m Amber and this has been episode 2 of [Oh Hey Void sound bite].
You’re A Badass At Making Money - Jen Sincero (affiliate link) https://amzn.to/33XaFlh
What is Self Worth & How Do We Increase IT? - Courtney Ackerman https://positivepsychology.com/self-worth/
10 Signs That You Might Have Fear of Failure - Guy Winch PHD - https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201306/10-signs-you-might-have-fear-failure
How to Overcome Fear of Failure - Bill Knaus https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-and-sensibility/201403/how-overcome-fear-failure
5 Excuses People With Fear of Failure Make - Guy Winch PHD - https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201701/5-excuses-people-fear-failure-make
Why We All Need To Practice Emotional First Aid - GUY Winch PHD - https://www.ted.com/talks/guy_winch_the_case_for_emotional_hygiene/up-next