Most people choose safety over uncertainty. But do safe choices always bring you happiness in life?

If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.

This quote by Vincent Van Gogh is my favourite for sparking creativity. There is so much utility built in. For instance, swap out “paint” and you have a multi-purpose formula for overcoming fear and doubt.

Try it for yourself:

If you hear a voice within you say you cannot dance, then by all means dance and that voice will be silenced.

It works for sports too:

If you hear a voice within you say you cannot run a marathon, then by all means run a marathon and that voice will be silenced.

The classic example, however, is writing:

If you hear a voice that says you cannot write, then by all means write and that voice will be silenced.

A daily writing habit is like a compound interest savings account. 

The more you write, the more your talent amplifies and grows!

For the record, I got over my fear of blogging months ago. But lately I have experienced new trepidation related to haiku. I write haiku poems in English and Japanese illustrated with my own photos. Haiku — Sunset
Japanese poem: 日没 (nichibotsu)

Each time I publish a haiku, I experience a range of self-limiting doubt.

  • Is my Japanese good enough?
  • Am I appropriating Japanese culture?
  • Does anyone actually read the translation?

Despite these doubts (and more!) I plan to continue publishing Haiku.

You are capable of a lot more than you realize

Doubts and fears can be hard to let go. But if something scares you, you should do it because it scares you. Trust me, you are capable of a great deal more than you realize!

Here are 4 ways to keep going when self-doubt holds you back.

  • Learn how to dance with fear
  • Look back at how far you’ve come
  • Don’t compare yourself to others
  • Learn how to bounce

Let’s unpack these one by one.

1. Learn how to dance with fear

Early in my career, I wasn’t sure of the direction I was taking in life. I was on a well-trodden path, an established road to success. But it wasn’t my path — and that was the crux of the problem.

As I rode the bus home from work one day, I had a revelation: I can design my own path and blaze my own trail! 

A short time later I moved to Japan to find work as a designer. I was gritty back then. Each time I failed, I picked myself up, dusted off and kept going. 

I learnt how to dance with fear and I have not dancing stopped since.

You can read about my Japan adventures here: How To Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You

2. Look back at how far you’ve come

The human inst is to want more. But when you always want more you overlook that which you already have. A better approach is to think back to where you started. Appreciate how much you have accomplished along the way.

When I look back over my life, I could never predict where I am now. Six months from now I will likely be doing something I never imagined today. This motivates me to try new things.

3. Don’t compare yourself to others

We are all moving through life at our own speed. Be inspired by the achievements of others. Emulate them. Don’t feel your achievements are less worthy by comparing negatively. Compare yourself only to who you were yesterday.

4. Learn how to bounce

I made a big leap toward positivity when I began to practice the bounce principle. This is a way of dealing with stress and negative thoughts. You cast them away immediately and think about other topics. 

I know it sounds simplistic, but it works!

Lessons I have learnt along the way:

  • A positive mindset takes you further in life.
  • Taking action (any action!) is better than endlessly preparing.
  • Skills amplify once you put them into active use.
  • Your tribe will find you once you start reaching out.
  • Failure is a learning opportunity

The last word

When you venture outside of your comfort zone you often feel ecstatic. You have liberated yourself. You have done something that a part of your mind didn’t believe was possible. You have broken free from chains of your own making. 

It’s a good feeling and trust me; it’s addictive.

Writing at the intersection of mind, spirit and creativity. My secret is to walk 10K daily to focus my mind and relax.
Writing at the intersection of mind, spirit and creativity. My secret is to walk 10K daily to focus my mind and relax.
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