The language of fear

Ramit Sethi

I learned a new phrase the other day.

I was writing an answer on Quora about how to turn a blog into business, and I wrote:

First, let me say that I think there should be a word to describe industries where people who have spent years doing it try to dissuade everyone else from getting in the industry because they know how horrible it really is. For example, musicians, lawyers, and authors will all tell you, straight up, “Dude, this sucks. Do something else. Anything else. But for the love of god, not this.”

For 99% of people, starting a blog is a terrible way to make money. You might as well take your money, shred it, spend a year sewing it back together by hand, and then light it on fire. You will still have saved time and heartache.

Interestingly, a commenter told me to look up “entry deterrence” and I learned that, indeed, my home-grown rant has actual academic backing.

I was thinking about an interesting chat with a friend a while back. He wanted to start a business, so he took me out to coffee to ask a few questions. See if you can guess where the conversation went:

  • “I was thinking of doing XXXX, but there are already 5 sites doing it…”
  • “Where would I even find out how to do a business plan?”
  • “I think I should wait until I figure out how to redesign my website.”

You know when you have a conversation with someone and they just want you to agree with them? By the end, I just wanted to say, “Yeah…I see what you mean.”

Each of these questions is very real to this person — but they’re also masking deep fears beneath each. For example, “There are already 5 sites doing it” = why would anyone choose me? (And if they can’t articulate the question, they can’t articulate the answer.)

What would you do in this situation? You can’t be rude and say, “Yeah, you’re right — you can’t do it. All your doubts are correct.” The truth is, they probably COULD succeed if they confronted and handled these barriers.

Remember, they don’t feel their fears are irrational. To them, these are perfectly logical and reasonable concerns. But these untested fears are paralyzing them from taking action. And the language they use allows them to continue being paralyzed (“I think I should wait until I get a website” = “It has to be perfect or the world will laugh at me”).

What’s an UNTESTED fear you had and how did you describe it? Was it taking an advanced workout class (“I need to get in shape before I take that”)…going to a cocktail party where you didn’t know anyone (“Why would anyone want to talk to me?”)…or applying for a job above your skillset (“They need 5 years of experience…I only have 4”).

Share your thoughts below.


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  1. brina

    My untested fear is to do a MSc in education studies on my own funds without any academic scholarship. I’m worried that I will run out of money, and starve in London.

    • Aimee@Middle Finger Project

      Brina, I feel for you. Academia can be a touch world sometimes. But if you have the right motivation, I think you’re half way there already – cause it will get you through a lot.

      I love what you say here:
      “For 99% of people, starting a blog is a terrible way to make money. You might as well take your money, shred it, spend a year sewing it back together by hand, and then light it on fire. You will still have saved time and heartache.”

      It’s so true!

    • Em

      As Ramit says, do the homework to tame those fears. How much will it cost for school and living? How much do you have? If you’re short, how will you make more? If you get partway through and need to take a break and earn for awhile, how can you do so? If you map it out on paper, you may rid yourself of the fears.

      It’s impossible to live a risk-free life (no fun, either!). In my experience, often students paying out of pocket apply themselves and work harder for success than those taking handouts. In self-paced classes, I’ve seen the self-pay folks working to get through the most material, while those on government aid had lousy attitudes, were disrespectful, and did the least work necessary to get by. This is not to stereotype that this applies to everyone in these situations, but to say that if you care enough to pay for it, you are probably more motivated to be successful. (I’d be interested in Ramit’s comments, as with his knowledge, he probably has examples of the opposite, and can tell us, psychology, why this is.) Anyway, I’m just thinking out loud because I think financial aid is more than it’s cracked up to be. I’d rather be self-pay any day.

    • brina

      Thank you for the encouragement 🙂 Unfortunately I do not qualify for any financial aid whatsoever (international student and all that) but I have taken the plunge and placed my deposit. I’ll be starting my MSc this October in London.

      Happy? Yes, I’m glad I took the plunge- the course looks amazing and it’ll be very relevant to my work helping kids with special needs in the future. Terrified? Yes, I’m still worried that I’ll run out of money. However, I intend to cut down on unnecessary spending, and optimize my necessary spending (one of Ramit’s tips in his book). I’m also starting the groundwork to advertise my skills as a personal academic tutor.

      Fingers crossed I’ll make it and graduate. I’m excited 🙂

    • Caro

      I got my MSc in London last year and totally ran out of money. However, I kept thinking I shouldn’t get a crappy job so I could optimize my time. Unfortunately I’m one of those people who can’t get anything done when I only have one thing to do (study). If I could go back in time, I would get any old job, no matter how bad, and use the busy-ness as a motivator to get other things done (actually study, find a good job, etc). As a result of a lot of feet-dragging and general stupidness, I’m now working in a crap job, even with my degree. Funny thing is I’m happier than I was without the crap job! I’m fortunate to be staying in London because I have dual citizenship, otherwise I’d be back in the US. Good luck with your adventure! It’s worth it no matter what happens!

    • stacey

      Actually, you can live in a hostel for long term residents. Look up the LHA association, they aren’t backpackers but long term residents such as students and working visa types, all ages so you can avoid the 19 year old drunk all the time and there are 70 year olds there too so you find your vibe. I lived in there and shared a room. If you do 10-20 hours a week work at the hostel as a cleaner or receptionist or night porter, you get free rent and two meals a day free. My room mate from Columbia was studying english . masters students can work 20 hours a week still, I believe. David Cameron cut back international students studying english working hours and my roommate from a poorer country did 10 legal hours at Pret cafe and 50 hours 5pound an hour cash + free food in a cafe.
      Loads of people from Eastern Europe and poorer countries that aren’t in EU working there, and the EU East and West Europeans as well as even though GFC bad, in London there are jobs, not the best jobs, but waiting jobs etc. Teaching assistants pay okay there, and in the rich neighbourhoods where LHAs are located, lots of nanny work. SO, if you got your fees together and say, a few grand to set yourself up as London is a wonder ful city, you’ll be sweet, I arrived with no money, and knocked on doors until I got work. It annoys you seeing non english people on gov benefits – somehow EU passport holders, can get the dole and the government pays their rent so they are living in Kensington or Notting Hill and get a small cash benefit – but have their own room!!! If they got a waiting job, they would be the same or even worse off. But someone at the hostel always works at a bakery so you find yourself worrying about getting fat from leftover designer bakery treats!!! At worst case scenario, and I almost got this bad – you can hand out leaflets same day as you ask for 3 quid an hour – it’s a meal. So, unless you are lazy or don’t like knocking on doors, you’ll be right. Liquor off liscence store cheap. Bus cheaper than tube…

  2. Sean

    My most present untested fear is that I don’t think I’m attractive enough to talk to a pretty girl. (Not that I believe I’m ugly, necessarily. Just that I’ll tend to think she’s out of my league.)

    • Gretchen

      So many sweet, interesting men feel the same way as you do. It seems as if only arrogant pricks have the nerve to approach a beautiful woman. As a result, many beautiful women are lonely and bored. If you tried just introducing yourself you might be pleasantly surprised.

    • stacey

      Talk to a pretty girl you are NOT attracted to first. Like a way to old one or nice to look at but not your type kind. Or a lesbian. Someone you think of as a sister. Get some female mates first. Then date their friends, but first just get some female friends so you can think of girls as just people you talk to about stuff you have in common.

  3. Aditi

    Mine is similar to the coffee guy:

    Why would anyone want to hire me as a coach when there are so many others out there?

    I don’t have enough money to make a better website, people aren’t going to take me seriously until I do.

    Can I really make a career out if this? Seems like a fantasy, maybe I should just suck it up and stick to management consulting like everyone else…

    • Maureen Miller

      As one coach to another, what one thing would you be ale to do that would make you stand out? How could you use, what you believe, to differentiate yourself from the rest? Have you heard Simon Sinek do his TED talk the Golden Circle?

    • Guro


      A website is not gonna help, but referrals will help a lot more so, start with three clients and focus on a specialty or niche coaching gig that makes you stand out from all the others. An Earn 1k student, and I’ve had some success and some not. So, Fears is going to be always with me, and just got to keep on attacking. I wanted to do website work, I didn’t know enough. Now I do know a lot more, and now I am confident more than before in my work. I still have not made “it” or anything but I still keep learning about coding and getting that skill. Managing my clients and communicating with them.

      So, untested fear for me? I am too busy to work on an video project which could potentially increase my income quite a bit, and I have not moved forward on that.


    • Aditi

      Thanks so much Maureen and Guro.

      Maureen- I looked up that video, it is really and I like that approach. I am going to brainstorm my WHY and start with that. Hopefully that could help me figure out my “stand out.” What I really want to do is help people get unstuck, similar to Ramit’s Invisible Scripts. I want to help people figure out what their invisible scripts are and help them forgive, release, and re-write them, and help them get on a track that gets them moving 85% at minimum. I appreciate you replying!

      Guro- Good point, I should just focus on getting my 3. I do have 2 people already interested but instead of following up with them I was basking in my excuses. Thanks for the reminder, I am going to follow up with them and see how I can help them. Appreciate it!

  4. A

    I have a huge desire to have a great youtube channel, and people like my channel so far and I have a few hundred subscribers even though it is very poorly produced.
    I want to have more video editing and make it more like Davey Wavey or Jenna Marbles, but it feels like since so many people already have good youtube channels, there is some barrier (irrational, I know) to my having one.
    Also the barrier is that if I were going to do this, I’d have to be more disciplined and actually record videos with a camera, edit each one, etc. – all stuff I like doing but I don’t make the time for it.

    • steve

      editing absolutely will be the bottleneck in your video production and (likely) will be the thing you least enjoy doing.

      find a student in film school who is looking for some experience & some pay on the side or someone on elance, odesk, or some other freelancing site who can edit & produce your videos.

      if you can afford it (and with those methods, it shouldn’t be too expensive) then your time burden will be a lot less & the videos will look a lot better.

    • LP

      I have this desire too! I actually made a channel and filmed a couple of videos. I was too afraid to show my face and my voice sounds really nervous, but you should try it anyway. Go to some of your favorite vloggers’ channels and watch their very first videos (you can sort them by date). They’re nervous too. I think this is one of those things you just have to start doing and whether or not you have a fan base right away won’t matter because you’re just practicing. You don’t need a great camera or editing at first. Just don’t worry about making it perfect and get your ideas out there.

  5. ARC

    My untested fear is starting my own creative business in an area where most people say “oh, people won’t pay for that”. I *think* it’s not true, but am afraid to try it, and fail, though I honestly don’t have much to lose. So I hide behind stuff like “but I haven’t finished my website” and “I don’t have a good supplier”, etc., when really those are all just minor details.

    Thanks for this post today.

  6. moumen

    My fear is, I have a online business idea but not sure if it will succeed. This is much like the example in the article above

  7. moumen

    So what do you suggest to overcome fears but in a calculated way not just get over it without having a well thought about it.

    Remit this could be a topic for an article

    • Maureen Miller

      Start with your WHY

  8. Christina McPants

    This seems shallow, but it’s the most obvious one – for the past 5 years, I had flirted with the idea of cutting off all of my hair. But I’m also significantly overweight and thought that going short would make me look old and/or butch (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I already have some insecurities about being judged for being an open lesbian and that just compounds it). I told myself I couldn’t do it until I lost a certain amount of weight, but then realized I was going to continue putting barriers in front of things I want until I didn’t.

    So, I cut it all off in June. I love it. It’s higher maintenance than my old hair, but it feels very me and very chic.

  9. Jonathon Seaborn

    My biggest fear is that I will let “feeling overwhelmed” keep me from getting shit done.

  10. Jon

    I recently had an opportunity to perform some freelance IT work. I’ve never implemented this software and the project is my first without any assistance. I initially tried to refer to contacts I have. No one was interested. The client knows I’m untested and was hesitant. I offered to try and do it for free. If I’m successful, then they pay me as they see fit. I don’t know if I can accomplish this but I have a meeting to discuss details on Friday!

  11. Adrian N Carvajal

    So I have 5 years of experience and I’m unemployed the fear is that I don’t have the experience that is required to get a job, I’m contemplating to open my own business but what if I don’t have enough clients.

  12. Valarie

    Oh gosh, I have two main fears right now and they’re both ridiculous and I know that, but they’re hard to get past psychologically.
    1. I’m afraid of using my school’s gym because I think I’m not fit enough yet…
    2. I’m afraid of starting a hobby blog/vlog mix that I want to. It’s just for fun, not necessarily trying to make any profit, but I’m still nervous about it. Which is really silly.
    I think in both cases I’m too insecure with myself and that’s what’s holding me back.

    • Ana


      I had the same fear as your #1. I took a beginning weight lifting class. This helped in many ways. First, almost everyone was a beginner so I didn’t feel out of place. Second, there is a teacher that teaches you about the machines so you get comfortable. Third, I got stronger as the quarter went along. So in the end I wasn’t afraid of the gym anymore.

  13. shamil

    My biggest fear is failure itself. Failure in my studies, failure in my job, failure in my marriage, in raising my kids right and in my business.

    But my mother (also south asian) always told me, if you don’t try – you will never know if u will succeed or not. Its ok to fail, just try.

    Rather than sit around moping to see if I would fail or not I’ve not failed in anything yet.

    Think of it this way, if you do fail, what’s the worst that can happen ? for the most part you’ll may lose some money, time and lose some pride. But the best thing you will get is experience. That’s unquantifiable.

  14. Sean Mysel

    Hi Ramit,

    I had a fear of being a terrible writer. Everytime I got criticism it was like someone tore my heart out and burned it in front of my eyes. But like one of your guests Mr. Kaufman and you said: build a mental framework.

    So now I have a process:

    1) find really interesting topic even if it’s been written about
    2) allow it to have idea sex with another topic (historical figures and psychology)
    3) network with people who write (connected with two British journalists and now a friend who works in a university writing center) and read major historians work
    4) take feed back with no complaints
    5) make adjustments
    6) rinse and repeat

  15. KC

    I have had most of the fears Ramit mentioned, as well as the ones listed here- even the hair cutting one. My biggest fears are related to art/writing/creativity- “who am I to think I have something interesting to say/express?” I have been talking about taking an acting class for years, but I am terrified because I don’t have much experience and don’t plan on making a career out of it.

    • Maureen Miller

      And who are you, not to think of possibilities.
      ” Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be….” – Marianna Williamson
      The whole quote is amazing and speaks to every fear mention on this post.

  16. Rachelle

    My recent untested fear has to do with my membership site to provide continuing education and support for people in my industry. I was afraid that if I got too “sales-y” with promoting a recent back-to-school program that they would all hate me and unsubscribe from my (very small) list. No one unsubscribed, and I made a couple of sales. Now I’m more psychologically ready to go bigger next time.

  17. Maureen Miller

    Telling people what they want to hear is giving people advice and means you are the expert. You are being driven by your own personal agenda if you do this. Coaching is not about advice or being guided by your own agenda. It’s about asking the right questions so a client can find their own answers, whatever thry may be. A coach would ask what you alluded to Ramit. What one thing could you do to differentiate yourself from the crowd of others doing the same thing?
    How could you prove your greatest fear wrong?
    What do you believe in? Knowing your WHY (see Simon Sinek) is the most powerful tool you can use to differentiate yourself from others. It sends out a message that attracts a following of people who believe what you believe. People who would do anything for you because they believe what you believe.

  18. AJ

    1. I have a decent job, but I am itching to be more than what I am doing. Like starting a side small business in education for 3-6 grade kids or start selling on eBay. The reason for that is I don’t want my job to be only source for income, just in case I get laid off. So it is basically risk mitigation strategy, but I don’t have a good compelling idea.
    2. I want to change my job, but I worry new job will be lot more demanding and not so flexible as current job so I won;t be able to focus on #1 above.

    So I am thinking about #1 but not getting anyway and not doing anything about #2.

  19. Scott Whalen

    I was hunting for my first job after grad school. With barely any credible experience in my field, I applied for any entry level position. There were 3 in the country, and each of those had fierce competition. My wife points to a position, in a desirable location, and says “Have you applied here yet?” I patiently explained why that was a waste of time. “They want 5 yrs experience, a specialized certification… lots of things I don’t have yet.”

    Fortunately, she would not leave it alone. So a few weeks later, to satisfy her, I put in my CV via email. Fifteen minutes later my cell phone rings. Its the managing director of that company I just emailed! Turns out, after doing a ton of interviews, they decided to hire 2 people. “A huge expansion is starting in 2 weeks, what’s my availability?”

    Four years later, I am still with that company. Well taken care of, partially thanks to some of the things I learned from IWTYTBR, some thanks to my own performance. And I find myself stacking “reasons” not to start E1K, after having looked at it 1 year ago. Which makes no sense. I know I am afraid of something that isn’t even real. Gonna sit down this weekend and rework the negative self talk into a schedule to get it done. Thanks for the post Ramit

  20. Samantha

    I know that feeling. I want to write a novel, and I’ve finally started, but for years I put it off by saying things to myself like ‘I could never do that, I don’t have the discipline’ or ‘Why would anyone want to read my book when there are so many better authors out there?’ It can be incredibly hard to quell those fears.

  21. Pat

    A few years ago I was taking CrossFit classes at a local gym. The beginner classes were pretty easy for me but I’d seen the people taking the advanced class and they were all in incredible shape. After weeks of not taking action, I finally just asked the instructor if I could get into one and he said “Of course. We can tailor the workout to your level.” Sure, I was lifting half of what everyone else was, but after some time, I was at the same level.

  22. Felicia

    My advanced fear was/is putting my business out for a larger audience. I am afraid of damaging my professional reputation if things don’t work out.

  23. Cody

    Mine was actually talking on video. It’s irrational as hell bc there is no one there to listen, but I was hesitant to do it initially. I guess bc of the whole “what if people laugh at me” thing upon publishing. It’s still awkward, but I’m regularly doing it now, and it’s not as bad as I thought.

    Once I convinced myself that only useless trolls would criticize without offering constructive advice I felt much better.

    Entry deterrence is a new one on me. Color me extremely interested.

  24. Vence

    My untested fear is auditioning for a short form improv team at a local theatre. Although I have been in improv training for about a year and have performed in a few live shows, I feel like I need more experience before I actually go for it. My reason for training improv was to stretch my comfort zone and auditioning would be another comfort zone stretch.

  25. Janeile

    Derek Halpern mentioned something like this last week – except his was geared on what to say to negative family and friends when it came to pursuing dreams, etc. I think the same can be said to addressing that “inner voice” that always seems to be negative.
    1. Acknowledge that the fear is there (and that it might actually have a good point or 2 on why you’re crazy for thinking you can do xyz)
    2. Tell yourself that you owe it to yourself to at least TRY
    3. Tell yourself that NOW is as good a time as any to get started (after all, you’ve already spent x amount of time making excuses, etc)
    4. Tell yourself that you don’t want to go another month, another year WONDERING if you had done whatever, what would your life be like now. No regrets!!

    For the full video –

  26. mark grove

    I’m laughing my friggin’ head off Ramit! You will never convince people not, to think they can make money online. Stop the bullshit everybody!!! Get a job and start a business. Start a business offline!!! I have a cleaning business. Yes, I clean toilets. College student toilets to be exact, and I started doing litter pickup jobs as well. This is a biz people actually need.

    And if you start a business do it with money you can afford to spend, or lose. I personally think old ways of doing business are coming back. Thanks Ramit. Mark in Canada

  27. Candace

    I am part of the DJ prgm and I am one step from applying to consulting positions which involve not only a behavioral interview but also case interviews. With no business experience or classes and talking to over 30 consultants I know I can make the transition but my untested fear is not having enough case study practice BEFORE even applying. My fear is not being prepared enough to go through an interview and b/c I don’t want to fall flat on my face I’m preparing and overpreparing which I think might delay me in applying though my goal is the end of Sept.

  28. LKay

    my untested fears are that I just don’t have what it takes to stick/commit to something, and I think it stems from a recent string of failures. These days what I’ve been doing for myself is taking things in baby steps/ making small victories that let me slowly build up a habit (eg a 30 min walk/a 4 min cardio everyday, as long as I’m doing something more than just sitting all day). I haven’t told my siblings anything because they tend to be the hit hard and big and anything I do they tell me ‘doesn’t amount to anything-DO XYZ, which makes me give up rather than encourages me.

    Overall the smaller and more doable I can break any goal/projects, the less overwhelmed I feel about it which makes me give up.

  29. Am

    I have two, the first is that I have a degree in web design but no real experience in it, I lived designing the look of the website but I had trouble making it function, I would love to do this as a freelance project but I would need a partner to make things work.

    Second I am a photographer and I sometimes feel like I cant do any business because I dont have a studio for private shoots and I feel like that is unprofessional, it makes me not want to start pursuing this business until I have a space, but then I had a space and didnt have time to use it because I had to work twice as much at my day job to afford it. :-/

  30. Ori

    Huge fear of delegation and outsourcing. I think this is worse the “smarter” you are. I literally believed that I was the google adwords genius, that I was the best writer, best salesperson, best entrepreneur. Of course this is a defense mechanism, a form of false ego control that is common to small business owners. It took lots of courage (and I am still working on), actually realizing that it’s my responsibility to make sure stuff gets done, and the method is flexible.

    I remember Cher’s dad in clueless saying “I wouldn’t be happier than if they were based on real grades” when she got her teachers to fall in love and raise her grades. It’s a little like that. I feel that no matter how skilled you are as an entrepreneur, you will VERY quickly reach the limits of your technical proficiency. It’s what you do then, how you move forward with vision and delegation that make the difference.

  31. YOHAMI

    I cant deal with people like that.

  32. Bee

    I joined a really cool network marketing company. Before I joined, I was presented with the concept with a close friend of mine who off the bat, was just like “Yea, I know too many people doing this type of thing. It’s gonna be too hard to get them to say yes.” She ended up joining. And I did. While I say I’m all in, I still have that little voice that holds me back from just being courageous and showing people.

    Writing this out is making me realize how much I’m not all in and need to make a decision.

  33. Jen

    I talk myself out of doing anything and everything. Having only been to a massage therapy trade school after high school, I convince myself not to try anything at all– I am not even a practicing massage therapist. Anytime I went for an interview (only two before discouraging myself entirely) I had been offered a position immediately after but one place I went was rumored to have been the place to go for the happy ending (no way I was going to go for that) and the second wanted me to start off with 15 minute chair massages… But chair massage was a pain in the arse and I had only given the three required to finish my schooling.. So I never went to my scheduled start date.

    I will probably continue working the same underpaying shit jobs and crying myself to sleep almost every night for the rest of my life because I have zero confidence in anything.

  34. Mike Carney

    My fear is going to IKEA without the rigorous training required to make it through that maze when all I need is a kitchen timer for making panning time lapse videos with my iPhone.I heard they have one with a flat top that is perfect. I mean, last time I went to IKEA was in 2001, and all I needed was a dish set. I remember how I wished I had spent the summer in a physical training regiment prior to the visit. After I got home I was disappointed that I didn’t have the endurance to make it all the way to the kitchen section before getting fatigued. I am haunted by that experience to this day and having to return only to buy something else from the kitchen section feels like a recurring nightmare. Sure, I could just b-line to the kitchen accessory section, but I fear I will get sucked into the tractor beam vortex of modern styling, kinda like Derek Zoolander when they play “Relax”. Forget it. I’m screwed. I’ll just settle on boring non-panning time lapses and keep telling myself that’s good enough because my mom tells me so.

    -Panless in Seattle

  35. Luisa Lopez

    My untested fear is to apply for a mid-level position as a Paralegal when I only have the skills for entry level. I fear if accepted I will not be able to meet the challenge and then be fired.

  36. Sarah

    My greatest untested fear(s) has to do with potential new relationships. Does this guy actually want to get to know me? Or is he just looking to get in my pants. Why would he be different from other guys who appear one way, yet have ulterior motives?

  37. Duke Jones

    A mental model I’m finding useful in communicating these sorts of things to people (and in working with it myself) is taking a “reactive” versus “creative” mindset. Engaging your world with either positive or negative reactivity, you are bound by your circumstances. However, engaging with a creative mind you create your possibilities and your circumstances are fuel for the creation.

    Reference: “The Path of Least Resistance” by Robert Fritz

  38. Ryan

    My fear is similar to what a couple of others have already written. I want to be a coach and teacher, but I’m afraid nobody would pay me, because there are plenty of other, seemingly better, coaches out there doing the same things. Plus I’m still inexperienced. There are some business skills I would love to hire someone to teach me, but I won’t have the money for that until I get my business off the ground. Catch 22.

  39. Jennifer

    My biggest untested fear was “I do not have enough experience to be considered an expert and be able to charge consulting rates.” Coupled with “I don’t know if I can make enough money going out on my own.”

    I had the skills, I had the experience, I had the connects… I also had fear.

    Taco Bell fixed it for me… with a hot sauce packet that said “If you never do, you’ll never know.” It sat on my desk for weeks (months?) and I looked at it every time I felt like giving up.

    The rest…. is history in the making.

  40. James Kerti

    One untested fear pattern that comes up for me relates to feeling “ready.”

    I tell myself that I’m “not ready” to do things, like introduce myself to someone really famous or selling a product to hundreds or thousands of people I’ve never met.

    Whenever I test this pattern, it almost always ends up being a load of crap.

  41. Bill

    My untested fears are: 1) that as I start my own business(es), I won’t have enough time for my family obligations and, 2) that I won’t have the time to do this on the side without impacting my current job.

  42. Lisa

    I had an untested fear right out of High School. I wanted to study graphic design. My uncle and a few others who were trying to “help” told me that career field was too impacted and competitive and that I should choose something else.

    As a result I meandered – got a generic office job and took some classes here and there – for years. Eventually I decided that time was passing no matter what I did, and I may as well study graphic design – even if it never went anywhere.

    I had an instant positive response. People began approaching me with design jobs during my first year of school and I have worked steadily ever since.

    Now, when someone tells me what they want to do (and especially if they say that someone has told them their chosen path is a waste of time) I tell them to just go for it. Someone makes a living doing this thing, and it may as well be them. Every field has successful people within it, and usually those people are successful because they have an innate interest in, and talent for what they are doing.

    Besides, sometimes just setting a direction and taking steps toward a goal can lead you down a wonderful and unexpected path. New opportunities arise when you DO SOMETHING.

  43. Chuck

    I have an serious untested fear of going out dancing. I keep saying, “I’m not good enough to go out salsa dancing at a club until I’ve had private lessons” and “it’s ok to be a bad follower, but it’s embarrassing to be a bad leader”

  44. Tim Louden

    I frequently take on new projects which go outside my current knowledge base. A good friend and mentor advised me to keep this “new” material to 10% of any project, but sometimes a larger leap of faith is necessary to grow into a new industry that looks exciting.

    The recurring untested fear is that I won’t be able to do it, or do it right, or learn it fast enough, or that I’ll look a fool when I deliver something completely wrong.

  45. Brenda

    Wow, your e-mail came at exactly the right time. I just quit my job after 20 years to move clear across the country for a new one. I have to spend 8k to move myself and sell my house. FEAR is the right word. Huge anxiety, but I’m hoping I’m making the right decision. Without fear and anxiety we would stay in the same old rut forever until we die. No one gets a raise or chance to something different without FEAR. Hopefully for the better!!!

  46. Joshua

    clubbing, im hispanic and I can’t dance. Well actually I just never tried. So I learned that universities offer 1 credit dance classes so im taking ballroom dancing and latin social dance, and in the two weeks/ 4 class meetings so far I’ve already learned 2 dances!

  47. LP

    My untested fear right now is taking an entry level IT job and getting certified to work on IT helpdesks (another one of those “for the love of God, do something else fields).

    I bought a study guide and have applied to 5 jobs this month, but haven’t gotten any interviews.

  48. Katy

    Why would anyone choose me as a photographer? There are many other less-expensive ones in town and they get better publicity than I do.

    I can, in fact, respond to this fear in a positive and productive way, but this is too-often the nagging thought that eats away at the back of my mind when business gets slow or when I have an especially difficult client.

  49. Detra

    One of my untested fears revolve around past scripts that tell me that I am “too lazy”, “too unfocused” or ” too easily distracted” to accomplish starting my own business; setting up a solid financial base; really changing my lifestyle; hell, even be on time. Another untested fear is that my sites WOULD be one of many and I do not know how to stand out; (wow, just thought this) and that “people like me” don’t have successful/jobs that are extremely profitable. I am in the process of uncovering and retraining my thinking, and come hell or high water, I will be making some move toward my goals by year’s end.

  50. Yvette

    My fear,
    I will not succeed, people will not be interested in me or my brand!

    UNTESTED fear,
    I wont make it until i’ve made a good website, and upgraded to the better camera..

    Ha! (as u can tell not one of my better days!) morale wise!!

  51. Cerwin

    In approaching my timetables for publishing my book and making it available for sale this summer, I was scared. I have this thing about being teased and ridiculed en masse (defines a good portion of my childhood, lol). Specifically, I was worrying that people will start call me “the Boobie Man” and not take my book seriously. Two things happened that changed that, though:
    1. A lady friend who’s been down with the book and project told me “You’re already the Boobie Man… so embrace it.”
    2. At my first speaking engagement, the crowd was small (about 20) and mostly women. But they were very cool, receptive, and supportive.
    By embracing my role as “the Boobie Man” I was able to tap into my confidence and swag. And the feedback I got after the event was good and constructive – it’ll help me build towards my next promotional opportunity (a radio interview next month).

  52. Shane

    I’ve run into that hesitation a few times when it comes to fitness.

    First, I was scared to go to the gym because I thought I was too skinny to be there. Too skinny to go to the gym sounds ridiculous … but it turns out a lot of skinny guys feel the same, so I don’t feel like thaaat big of a goofball anymore. (Admittedly, I WAS really skinny – 6’2 and 130.)

    Later, after spending years researching nutrition and weightlifting and personally gaining 70 pounds of muscle (and coaching one of my best friends into gaining 50), I was hesitant to turn that into a blog. The muscle-building industry is a huge and wildly competitive one, and there’s already TOO MANY fitness blogs out there.

    Lastly, with that underway, I was really hesitant to do the same thing but with women. Weight gain / muscle-building for women is already unexpected enough … but then add in the fact that I’m not a woman. I probably wouldn’t have ventured down that path had we not gotten so many requests, and now I’m really really glad that we did! It seems to be going well.

    In all cases my fears were unfounded.
    Took a whole hell of a lot of work though!

    Really glad I stumbled upon your blog 🙂

    • Mike

      Do you still have the website for men?

  53. Clare

    I had an idea for a series of newspaper articles. I knew it was a solid idea, but I didn’t have any contacts in the industry (I worked as a writer, but in advertising) and I didn’t have a proven track record in journalism. So I was convinced that nobody would pick it up, and that I’d never hear back from anyone. My untested fear was that no-one would believe in me enough to take me on. After confronting that fear I began to realise that my real fear was that I didn’t really believe I’d be able to pull it off, and that was affecting my confidence. I’d never been short of ideas, but the motivation to sit down and write something without having an editor breathe down my neck did not come easy to me. And this fear was hanging around my neck and stopping me from putting myself forward.

    So I decided then and there to turn my page-long ‘pitch’ into something much bigger. I wrote the entire first article of the series. I composed a lengthy question and answer session at the end of the email to pre-empt any fears I felt commissioning editors might have. By doing all this work, I proved to myself that it wasn’t just a good concept, it was a really, really good idea. The first editor I pitched it to, came back with a yes, and I’ve had great feedback since then. I’ve had to tweak the format a bit, but I’m slowly making a living as a freelance writer now and making my dream of being a full-time traveller and part-time writer come true. Identifying and then facing the fear that I wouldn’t be able to follow through was a huge step in this process

  54. Kevin

    My fear is how to get my site which is a photo conversation website out to the public. I dont want to do it with friends, because if they dont like it, they will laugh at me.

  55. Donovan

    One thing I have learned from countless blogs about business and finance is to just do it and keep going. Along the way you should figure out how to make things better. I’m sure Rahmit has great classes, but if everyone would get off there a$$es our lives would take a step in the right direction, I speak from experience.

  56. George

    My untested fear is becoming the leader. I’ve always been the advisor or assistant – treasurer instead of president. I put in the hours and engage strongly, but always from a few feet outside the limelight.

  57. Fayola

    My untested fear was that I wasn’t good enough, didn’t have enough experience and that nobody would want my service so I had to stay in a job I didn’t enjoy if I wanted to keep paying the bills. But as they say, “pain pushes until vision pulls.” I finally had enough, quit my job and a year and a half later, I’m still finding a way somehow to make it work. When you have to, you find a way.

  58. Ohana

    Fear is the greatest enemy of mankind. I love a quote from a book of a really nice brazilian psychiatrist, Augusto Cury, he said that humans are a species that create their own enemies. About the “how would you handle” part, I am always talking to my friends about fear and the consequences of it. It makes great ideas never see the sunlight. I even wrote a whole text about it, Business and ideas are only one aspect in which fear manifests, fear is actually a disease in humanity, it ends up attracting exactly what we want to avoid, as a way to justify our own fears and remain in the comfort zone. It is an extensive theme ..
    But, I don’t think the person just wanted you to justify and agree with her fears, I think secretly it was a scream for help.

  59. Shannon Lagasse

    Ahhh… fear. One of my favorite subjects. :]

    I purposely like to put myself in the line of fear. If I think I am going to throw up, get squeamish, or feel dreadfully uncomfortable, I know I’m about to make a major shift. As long as the possible potential outcome is not dying, I’m game!

    I’ve told myself, “I need to get in shape before I can lead fitness classes.” BAH! People actually like a teacher whose body doesn’t intimidate them, I’ve learned. They enjoy the class much more when they’re not comparing their body to the teacher’s.

    “I have to be the picture of health before I become a health coach.” Bullshit. I could coach people in my sleep on health and nutrition. I was born for this job. Most of my illness is psychosomatic because my body is telling me some kind of important lesson (fatigue? What am I feeling tired of? Sore throat? What words am I holding back?) It has nothing to do with a weak immune system.

    “I’m too young or too inexperienced.” I’m peeing myself laughing now (kind of but not really). If age was really a determination of qualification or experience, I’d hate to see how some businesses turn out. There are some young people who want to party and drink all night and don’t give a shit about their work. There are some older people who just want to go home, watch the game, and drink beer. Conversely, there are also people in each population who enjoy putting in effort, doing hard work, and producing massive results for their company. Age doesn’t matter when it comes to getting the job done.

    Thanks for posting this, because it inspires me to think about all the little lies I’m telling myself in the name of fear and it allows my inner Ramit to come out and be like, “BITCH PLEASE.” :]

  60. Dominic

    Applying for jobs that had high requirements, “They want someone with more experience”.
    Calling or emailing someone that I wanted to connect to, “Why would they be interested in me?”
    Starting a new project, “I need to figure out what I want to do.”
    Applying for positions within the company I am working for, “If they thought I was a good fit for the job they’d be asking me.”

  61. Mike

    My biggest untested fear has always been “I don’t have enough (fill in the blank – education, experience, credentials, connections, time, etc.).”

    It’s a crippling fear – it turns out that if you always wait for the moment when you finally have enough, you’ll keep yourself waiting forever.

    At one point, it was so bad that I wouldn’t even comment on a post like this – not because I didn’t have an opinion, but because I didn’t think there was enough basis for my opinion. Now, how ridiculous does that sound? We humans really manage to set our barriers high.

    Ever since I started using Ramit’s material, I’ve been gradually taking more and more action on things that I never would have before, and most importantly, I’m working to always get value from those actions. Prime example: I’m currently working in what most people in my field would consider a Dream Job. However, my ultimate goal is to freelance in another field and grow that into a full-time business. Old me would have found reason upon reason to procrastinate, then drop the idea. Current me is testing different ideas, gauging demand for each of them and following up with adjustments based on the feedback.

    The difference between then and now isn’t a lack of fear right now – it’s that I just acknowledge that it’s there and keep on pushing forward.

  62. Salmajane

    I had this fear that I couldn’t tread water, which kept me from swimming out deep in the ocean with my husband and missing out on lots of fun and excitement. This year he said, Llets just test that in a safer place”, and, “I got your back no matter what.” So, after wasted years of believing my fear was valid, it turns out to be false. I was able to tread water. I cannot get those lost opportunities back. This taught me to test my fears, in a reasonable, rational way, before I let them get the best of me.

  63. Josh Skaja

    That’s interesting. I play music professionally and I tell anyone who will listen that my job is better than theirs.
    I own my time. I get to work with amazing people on interesting projects. There’s free food, booze & travel. Plus I get access to experiences that are usually the sole province of people MUCH wealthier than I’ll ever be.

  64. Laurel

    I decided I couldn’t live in Michigan any more after 8 years of dealing with the sinking economy plus weather plus zero decent job prospects. I updated my resume and sent it in a blanket email/regular mail storm to every law office in the area I wanted to move to. A month later, I received one (one – out of 100 mailings) reply, asking if I would like to schedule an interview. I agreed, packed up my 2-door late model sedan with my daughter (9 yrs old at the time), two cats, and everything I could squish in the seats/trunk, and high-tailed it to Oregon. Nailed the interview, was offered the job, made-do with temp jobs for three months while I waited for the position to be open (they had to fire someone to make room for me), then nailed the job. Went from “secretary” to “paralegal” in three years. Still with the same firm. Love the location. Not crazy about the job (working with attorneys is not ANYONE’s “dream job”) but it got us outta Michigan!!

  65. Deborah

    2013 has been the big year to face fears. I told those negative voices in my head to go away and launched my urban design firm anyway. This forced me to attend biz cocktails where I knew no one (I actually met some great new people), ask a client to keep me on a project team (he could have rejected me) and just about daily put myself out there for potential rejection – or acceptance. Has it been hard? Oh yeah. Are there days when I am discouraged and negative? Of course. I let myself wallow sometimes, knowing it will pass. Btw, the website is almost ready – but I just couldn’t wait to get going. Thanks for all your great posts!

  66. Jo Ellen

    A little over a year ago I made the decision to start my own Pet /House sitting business. It was risky as I had little money but am a good networker. I pushed aside my fears and moved forward steadily working from referrals from friends and former associated from all my past lives. I am professionally trained by a large retailer and managed a pet hotel for several years. I wanted to have a life that I had control over. I also worked on the side as personal organizer as well as helped a friend market his raw organic olive oil. I was the BEST decision I have ever made. No I do not have a big bank account, yet,but I have a life I can live with and the business is steadily growing. I have an associate who works with me and will be hiring a second by the end of the year. Every time I have felt fearful, I visualize success and it works! I am able to move forward with a very positive goal. It seems that everywhere I go I am meeting new customers. No doubt there a many competitors, but my personalized touch makes my business a success. I can customize the care each person needs and will be adding wellness for pets hopefully next year. So don’t be afraid, GO FOR IT!

  67. Paris White

    My first fear was putting my brand logo out there and realizing that I needed to build on my fear to over come it. I was nervous that my logo needed extra work, I knew my brand wasn’t even fully developed but I still took the chance. I started out with a Facebook page and as I reached 30 likes I started to get data view insights. Some of the posts that I had put up were virally reaching way more people than I had expected. It motivated me to really re-think how to handle my page much more better.

  68. Admund

    The ironic thing with fear is that it can surface at any point. I left my graduate job to study a totally different course subject. While I was in my job I thought of would I be happy doing this for years on? I need to give myself an opportunity for something else/more. I’m young take the dive. I did take the dive and enrolled myself in that course. But as the months went by, fears of not being able to make a career out of it surfaces, I’m not good enough n all the hubris. It is psychologically taxing.

    But, at this point, I know there’s no other way except to push till the end and if its doesn’t work out. I tried at the very least.

  69. Deborah

    A year ago +, my husband purchased a marketing plan for self employed working artists (recommend by Ramit, in fact). He sent it to me out of the blue. I opened it up exactly once. I became immediately and completely overwhelmed, instantly believed I would never be able to process all the information, let alone complete it. Inside myself, I felt like I couldn’t compete with all the other artist who seemed to be able to do it all. First, their art work, as well as the regular homework/up-keep of website, grant writing, resume, bio, statements, press releases, gallery submissions/shows/open studios, call to artists applications, etc. Not to mention cleaning, cooking, taking care of the kids and keeping some form of exercise in the picture…how does anyone actually DO all of that? I gave up before I started. I haven’t opened it since.
    More recently, my husband also started sending me LITTle Ramit blurbs (after he got Ramit’s book from the library) which made me laugh (out loud), and they made me want to do more, read more–do more again, positive cycle.
    Now I’M the one taking the class and little by little, trying to overcome my frustration w/computers. I’ve noticed that I start to lose my motivation when I’m on my own, or in my head for too long. I try to log in and re-read, re-do exercises when I begin to circle the drain (helps keep the motivation going). It also certainly helps to hear from Ramit, or his crew regularly– in small ways, with small tasks that get bigger and more challenging as confidence grows.

  70. Andrea Willey

    I was afraid to start my own business- literally got cold feet in the midst of signing a least. The fear was- there are lots of other docs in town why wif anyo e come to me- fear that I would take out a million dollar loan build an office then have no patients.

    Then I tested it- I called my three biggest competitors and learned that they had wait times of two weeks, three weeks, and two months. Then I put up a temporary instapage website and the emails asking when I would open started rolling in.
    Moving forward now- still scared but movi g forward anyways

  71. Candace

    I’ve been considering becoming a professional dancer after 11 years of Practice, Study, and performance. It’s been my aim to
    Go pro for a long time and it truly is my
    Passion. For me every time the thought crosses my mind, my heart begins to race and my thoughts begin giving me tons of reasons, excuses, stall tactics ect. basically any reason outside of actually succeeding that would make this dream impossible for me to be successful. My biggest barrier is not having the right “look” or not being able to make enough money to
    Support myself.

  72. Michelle@MixedMediaArt

    Current IS / Untested fear: Will an Arts & Crafts Product company really want to pay me each month to advertise on my website? Do I need more traffic? Do I need a “Media Pack” and better data?

    Steps to overcome:
    1. Amend my current website to include advertising on front page, as well as article pages
    2. Trial affiliate links / adsense on article pages and track impressions and click throughs to gather (I can and have tackled this level of html in WordPress – trial underway)
    3. Improve traffic by adding great content and give-aways

    I will keep you posted on how it goes!

    • Michelle@MixedMediaArt

      Wow! Writing it out like that seems to clear the fog away from my action plan to move forward.

  73. garrett

    For the longest time I wanted to work for a tech startup. I thought I should learn to code before applying, or learn the latest tricks. (Why would they hire me?) But recently, I’ve taken a new approach. Jump in, and figure it out:
    Step 1. Find something I’m interested in that could benefit the company.
    Step 2. Email the founders with advice/insight.
    Step 3. Learn tons from the interactions and maintain the relationships.

    It’s been amazingly rewarding so far, and it really is just modeling what moved me forward in a previous position at an established company.

  74. Megan

    Ramit, I still struggle with applying for jobs where the posting is above my skillset – even though arguably, for the job I’m in right now, with great reviews, the posting was above my skillset! My rational mind knows this is dumb, but it’s very difficult to overcome what is for me a very powerful emotional reaction. I describe(d) it as “I don’t have enough experience yet,” or “I’m missing some of the major qualifications for this job.”

    I think the untested/unexamined fear beneath this is: that I’m not good enough; that no one else will want me; or that I can’t (and maybe never will?) be able to hack it at the level at which I really want to perform.

    Right now what’s working for me is to keep checking back in with a few supportive colleagues, and with my honest assessment of myself. I’ve grown so much in the last few years, and I have a lot more to offer now, top on the list being how quickly I learn new skills! I just need to keep reminding myself, and when that doesn’t work, talking with my colleagues to get a reality check.

  75. Josh

    Joining your 1k program. A part of me was afraid of failing, even though I knew it would help me get even closer to my massive dream!

    But next time it’s open – I’m in. 🙂

  76. Margaret Schneider

    My latest fear was becoming an insurance agent. I needed to pass the tests. I had to get past all the friends and family who introduced the very fears you listed earlier.
    I need to make money and my Dr. told me to get a desk job. My masters degree wasn’t working for me so I went into insurance.
    The big experiment will be to see if I make enough to cover my bills or will I be homeless.

  77. Trevor

    Classic entry deterrence: on my way to try surfing for the first time in Hawaii, I saw a white van filled with surfboards, driven by a surfer. On the back of the van was a bumper sticker which read, “SURFING SUCKS. DON’T TRY IT”.

    My own fear was “It’ll stop being fun.”

    I avoided pursuing a real career in music for years because even though I knew I could succeed, I was put off by the actual amount of work it takes. It consumes enough time to not be “fun” anymore, and I wanted it to still be fun.

    Anyone who really commits to something, however, should be able to (at least conceptually) enjoy the moments of grit where they simply have to see something through to completion. “Do or die” moments really add meaning to your determination and sense of professionalism. No regrets here, except that it took me so long to jump in!

  78. Anisha

    Okay this is going to sound supremely silly, but I was afraid that Ramit would not accept my friend request on Facebook EVEN THOUGH THE WELCOME EMAIL FROM RBT ASKED ME TO DO JUST THAT. I was worrying myself silly for 2 HOURS, pondering over a pitch, wondering whether I should send a message/email along with the FB request to make myself stand out and ensure that he’d accept the request (and thinking how best to employ the Ramit 1-2 punch in the process). Then I recalled what Ramit says about testing and procrastination and I just hit the button – I’d never know whether he’d accept unless I tried. (See, the whole confusion arose because there was some problem in accessing my RBT account so I didn’t know yet that Ramit has a team of people who accept friend requests for him, so it isn’t like a personal acceptance/rejection from him LOL). Still, I learnt my lesson :D.

    Another untested fear was – wearing make up to work everyday. I am a girl who is a Mechanical Engineer in a country like India, where the sex ration is still pretty skewed so girls in “professional” careers tend to be looked upon as “unprofessional” (read: less intelligent than boys) if they try to feel and look nice/attractive. I used to feel I just couldn’t pull off wearing atrractive clothes/make up since I was a Mechanical Engineer and we tend to be looked upon as less feminine. There was another layer to this fear – since I’d never gone shopping for make up, I felt I wouldn’t be able to afford it. I used to think all the pretty chicks just happened to be rich by default and so it was no surprise that they got all the attention, that it wasn’t my fault if I couldn’t afford to look nice. The truth was, it WAS my fault, since I’d never tested my fear. So, I went to places away from my usually frequented markets so that even if I had to walk out after checking price tags, it would be less embarrassing since those people would probably never see me again. And I discovered that I could, in fact, afford make up. Next, I shed my inhibitions and started asking my friends on what looks good and what doesn’t, started googling extensively and reading reviews about products (and finding the best deals :-P). The result? Today, if people from my school/college see me, they take a moment to recognize me. And now, other chicks want to know where I bought a certain dress/accessory from.

  79. Ian

    My fear is learning Japanese.
    The uni offers 4 modules. Failed the first, passed the second ,about to do the third.
    Afraid that if I might try and fail,

  80. Catherine

    Untested Fear 1
    I have several different career interests. I can’t have my cake and eat it and if I pursue one as a career, I’ll lose out and will never get to pursue/ experience the others I.e. I’ll end up living a lack lustre and unfulfilled life.
    Result = Procrastination.

    Untested Fear 2
    I’m an introvert and not sociable / likeable enough to build a network, especially in an industry I have no experience in but would like to break into.
    Result = Procrastination

    Untested Fear 3
    I won’t be able to make a good living doing work that I enjoy, that energises me daily and that plays to my strengths at least 95% of the time.
    Result = Procrastination

    Untested Fear 4
    If I pursue my dreams now (at the age of 35), I won’t be able to start a family (that I want) and will have to put it off a few more years. If I put it off a few more years, I may have left it too late!
    Result = Procrastination

    Help! Anyone else identify with and managed to break through one or more of these nagging fears?

    • Bill

      Catherine, you’ve create a false dychotomy (or trichotomy or however many career interests you have). Why do they all need to be careers? Why can’t they be multiple income streams? I really enjoy public speaking, but I also really love my job! Solution? I joined the preaching team at my church that gives me an opportunity to speak publicly about topics that I enjoy researching. I, like you, am not terribly social. Why do you feel that you aren’t “likeable enough”? Could you go to an event and meet 3 new people? Make the conversations about them, not you. People love talking about themselves. It will show that you are genuinely interested in them, which helps make you likeable. Again, the career vs. family is a false dychotomy. You can do both. In fact, doing one can make you better at the other! Will it be hard, of course. It’s supposed to be hard. If it weren’t everyone would do it. Take the first step. You can do it!

  81. Metz

    Remember, they don’t feel their fears are irrational. To them, these are perfectly logical and reasonable concerns. But these untested fears are paralyzing them from taking action. And the language they use allows them to continue being paralyzed (“I think I should wait until I get a website” = “It has to be perfect or the world will laugh at me”).

    Well, you cannot do any is you have this so called FEAR! You must overcome that! Because, Fear is the mind-killer and The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. contributor

  82. Lucille

    Fear negates perseverance and that’s where a lot of people come unstuck. When your ambition overtakes your fear then you’re in a good place!

  83. Celso

    Hi Ramit,

    One month ago a frinend asked me for help. He wanted to launch a new product but he had two fears:

    1. Operations: how to build it.
    2. Others doing the same.

    For the first one it was only a matter of technical knowledge, the easy part to understand.
    The second one had only one answer that I learned from you and Josh Kaufman: if someone is doing money with it you know there is a profitable market, and that is quite a lot to know when launching a new business.

    Most of the time our fears had been felt by others, and by identifying your fears you can prcecisley identify your mental barriers. Once you k ow that you can overcome them.



  84. David

    This post describes exactly what I am struggling with right now.

    I want to leave a well paying corporate job to run a startup outside my area of formal education. The startup has funding from a VC my friends work for, and they are in favor of me joining them.

    1) Can I successfully run this business, based on one of my hobbies rather than my formal education?

    2) Once I leave IT/engineering at my big firm, can I go back if I am out of the industry for 2-5 years?

    3) What if the business never takes off? Pay starts out minimal. Is it ok to kiss my saving goals goodbye?

    You turned down Google to start a successful business. Your advice would really help.


  85. John Scott Lucas

    My girlfriend pushed me to apply for a job at a non-profit. I was reluctant to do so, partly because non-profit means full-time work for part-time pay, but mostly because the very long job description included several “must have” items that I didn’t have. I applied anyway, and I got an interview. During the interview, they minimized all of those “must have” items that had worried me. It turned out that I actually had more experience than they needed. They were worried that I was over-qualified for the position! I keep replaying that moment in my head as I continue apply for more jobs that feel above my skill set. I did not get the non-profit job, (which is totally okay with me), but I did get a huge boost in confidence.

  86. Patti

    My fear is that people won’t like what I have to write about so I don’t blog nearly enough as I should. Which I know is kind of ridiculous because when I read other blogs I always say to myself, oh I could write better than that! Pathetic I know.

  87. Quasia

    This is exactly why I’m going to a course in November focused on two things:

    1) how to itemize, classify, deconstruct and restructure beliefs.
    2) practice the science behind attention.

  88. Talley

    My untested fear is attaining a PhD (in the humanities) – a goal I set for myself at age 12 and have pursued to date. The more I learn about the modern university as a business, the more frightening the prospect of entering academia is…and I’ve certainly experienced “entry deterrence,” even from mentors who give my work high praise. Am I wisely considering alternative paths in response to new familiarity with my field, or chickening out because I’m unwilling to risk failure? Tough to say.


    Fear is an ILLUSION!

    Trust me…..once you face it head strong, and challenge it, disappears before your very eyes!

    Call on your inner strengths and set yourself free!

  90. judishi

    recently a start up company in my area invited me to apply for well paid positions as general manager and as a senior vice president. i didn’t apply for either one because i didn’t have the experience and didn’t think i could qualify.
    my other untested fear is related to a weekly podcast i produce. the client i work for keeps asking me to develop a website, but i don’t see the point.
    i don’t know how to set it up or how much to spend and it feels like it could be obsolete before i get it up and running (replaced by mobile apps).
    i’m convinced that any effort i put out would look amateurish and stupid and i couldn’t figure out how to make it generate revenue

  91. Alexander

    My untested fear is of applying to my dream job at a popular education startup, since I’m untested and don’t have many projects under my belt, and probably too inexperienced to be of any use.

  92. Master Scott

    Great article! If you think you can or can’t, your absolutely right! Nobody is born an expert, run hard, run fast, and most of all kick ass and make a difference!

  93. Ray

    Hey Ramit, looks like your influence is spreading to yahoo

  94. Raphael Linhares

    “I’m not qualified enough to apply for a position abroad”.

    Even though I have an educational background abroad, through scholarship and such, and always worked on Multinational companies providing support and working with people from pretty much all over the world.

  95. Kenny Xu

    “I’m not ready yet, I have to keep studying to finally be ready”

    I’m currently a postgraduate student, I’m in my final semester. I’m from Sydney but I really want to move to California to find work. I’m really erratic as sometimes I feel I’m definitely good enough but also sometimes I feel I’m not ready or good enough, due to not knowing enough.

    This is something I’m taking many steps to try and breakdown as I know the dream jobs I want are in the bay area.

  96. Laura De Clercq

    My fear is moving to China next year for a year or more. I know I need to live there to improve my mandarin , something I need for further studies and job opportunities , yet I keep delaying it . I keep saying to myself I should have a higher starter level before I go and take the plunge. I’ve moved countries before ( from Belgium to South Africa ) but China is just so so starkly different and very far away from my family. What if I strike out ? What If I don’t manage to find an apartment within my budget ? all these fears…I know I should man up and take the plunge but saying it and actually making your feet move are two different things .

  97. Adnan

    I believe it is not just simple that we dont face our fears or take actions. Failures as well as balancing risk with reward are two important bottlenecks which may hamper anyone’s progress. For example, if i fear of not talking to my boss for a raise, in the back of my mind, i may be considering that a pay raise may require more work hours therefore less time for family and other things.. taking action is good but balancing it with other areas of life is essential also.

  98. stacey

    my biggest fear: not being a success. not worried about travel, approaching people, social stuff. And not getting a husband and kids and a house and middle class income. I fear that I have left things to late and around alot of people who tell me that I am never going to succeed and think about my station and my parents wasted all that money on my education (I studied humanities and media and wanted to be a journo – and blogged online etc… so not on highest wages)..I am afraid that I will never get a high flying career

  99. Peter Scott

    Limiting words reinforce limiting beliefs.

    And as we know, Our beliefs control our actions which control are results. If we approach a new business opportunity with the belief, “There are already 5 sites doing it” = why would anyone choose me?”, then we are dead before we even started. No action = No results.

    I’m currently overcoming my fear of being vulnerable and authentic on my blog. I compare my “behind the scenes” to everyone else’s “highlight reels” on social media and think I need to portray my life a certain way.

    I’m now realizing that this is the age of authenticity and true value is created when you’re being real, raw, and vulnerable with your audience. Ramit, you do a very good job of this, so thank you my friend!

    Peter Scott

  100. Pinar

    Why would anyone hire me as a freelancer or an employee? Having changed careers recently I’ve been trying to get better at my new career field by self-teaching. I have so little experience but a great desire to learn. I take my craft seriously and practice it as if I have a 9-5 job. I’m very motivated to the point I started seeking my own clients but I see all these people with years of experience and accomplishments and I can’t help feeling so inferior to them.

  101. Kate

    While putting myself through school I worked a plethora of jobs fields, basically whatever I could get. Now that I can see my graduation date ahead I wish that I had not been a secretary, personal assistant, child care provider, busser, server, pastry cook, or catering organizer; and had pushed for an entry level job related to my field.

  102. Nature girl

    I was diagnosed with a degenerative neurological condition in 2007. I feared that I would have an attack while driving and kill someone. I feared losing that control, and I feared going to jail, and I feared that I would never outlive the guilt.

    So, even though I love wide open spaces, I convinced myself that I needed public transportation 24/7. I gave up an offer for a dream job in my dream state (California) because I was too scared to drive.

    Then, my wife saw my dream home, by rivers and mountains, with an easy commute to work. One catch: I would have to drive 5 minutes each way to the train. I was so scared, I could not even think straight for months leading up to the move.

    But we did move! And I love our new place and neighbors! I can see bald eagles from my bedroom! I found a way, with medicine / discipline / carpools and taxis, to make it work. I didn’t want to give up another dream for this disease.

    I have been accident-free for all 2 years since we moved. I am so glad I tested my fear.

  103. Nature girl

    I was diagnosed with a degenerative neurological condition in 2007. I feared that I would have an attack while driving and kill someone. I feared losing that control, and I feared going to jail, and I feared that I would never outlive the guilt.

    So, even though I love wide open spaces, I convinced myself that I needed public transportation 24/7. I gave up an offer for a dream job in my dream state (California) because I was too scared to drive.

    Then, my wife saw my dream home, by rivers and mountains, with an easy commute to work. One catch: I would have to drive 5 minutes each way to the train. I was so scared, I could not even think straight for months leading up to the move.

    But we did move! And I love our new place and neighbors! I can see bald eagles from my bedroom! I found a way, with medicine / discipline / carpools and taxis, to make it work. I didn’t want to give up another dream for this disease.

    I have been accident-free for all 2 years since we moved. I am so glad I tested my fear.

  104. Adnan

    Here is a three step formula for not to speak language of fear..

  105. Ileana

    Since I am about to be 40 I think that I should loose weight and re invent my appearance to be accepted among my peers, family and relatives, to land my dream job, and to marry a man of my like not someone imposed.

  106. Dave

    It’s ridiculous to say this but my fear is success. Right now I have a side business that I love. I want it to succeed but I keep putting up barriers so that it doesn’t. The reasoning… I love it now because I do it when I want. If it becomes successful I fear I will hate it because I will have obligations where now I just do what I want. Thanks for the proverbial smack upside the head.

  107. sonja

    My irrational fear was that I cannot never really do exercises as I think I should because of my back problems. Few years back I had it really bad and doctor told me a lot of scary things so it looked like I couldn’t do most of the things I used to did.
    Also, I always started good with my exercises, but after Month or two my back problems were back so I had to quit and then start all over again when I felt better.

    Three Months ago I disregarded all my fears and excuses and just started again my Pilates training. I am doing it for a three Months now, every Morning, and I feel much better. My back problems are under control because I am careful when I do my exercises and this time I am planing to stick to it for a much longer time and learn all of the exercises and bring myself in shape so that I don’t have to think about my back problems ever again.

    The best Method for me was just not to think so much about it and just do it.
    Also, I disregarded what others said and listen to my body to tell me if I can do it or not. A lot of help to me was also a book I bought from Alycea Ungaro: Pilates because the exercises in the book are so separated and organized that you bring yourself in shape from step to step. You go from elementary skills to more advanced and there is always two ways shown how to do something if it is too hard and photos show you if you do something wrong. I really like this book because it explain everything so precise and good.

  108. Jacqueline // Goal-Getter

    Great article. I have a thought on this topic: I know for a fact that I have many “untested” fears but I have a knack for dealing with them that might help someone else: (1) I observe my thoughts as if I am an outsider looking in so have learned to recognize when a fear is just bullshit (2) When it is bullshit, for example, wanting to quit my biz because a competitor moved in (ugh!), I ask myself what I REALLY want and ignore the voice of the fear (I can do this because I see it now). In that case I learned that I really wanted to continue with the biz and kill it – and am 🙂 So I think it’s all about being objective and seeing your fears for what they are: just misguided thoughts. Nothing more.

    Thanks, Ramit xo

  109. Jake Parent

    So many of us feel detached from what we do at work every day that it often feels like the whole business system is broken….

    And that’s probably because it is.

    The giant corporations many of us work for are designed to make a few executive types super-rich, while leaving the rest of us wasting away in cubicle farms, yearning for greater purpose.

    We need to take the business sector back from giant corporations and put it in the hands of innovative small-business entrepreneurs!

  110. Yadgyu

    “We need to take the business sector back from giant corporations and put it in the hands of innovative small-business entrepreneurs!”

    Good luck with that, jack!

    I love these Internet revolutionaries trying to convince the masses to overthrow the system. As much as people complain about things, they rarely do anything to change.

    Read the majority of the posts above. People have grand ideas about what to do with their life, but are basically afraid to take action. The sad part is that many of these people are smarter than those they report to. But being successful is about courage, not intelligence.

    For the record, I am a corporate slave and I love it. Why complain about it? I am more successful than those most people complaining.

  111. Ivan

    One of my untested fears when I started approaching big blogs for guest posts is “they wouldn’t listen to me because I’m completely unknown”. With a mentality like that, I played victim and didn’t do anything to change that fact. Not surprisingly, no one paid attention me.

    What eventually opened my eyes were two things. One, I saw other newbies like me routinely guest posting on big blogs (which means I could too). Two, I asked myself what’s the worst that could happen if I just approached the big bloggers and pitched them.

    Half a dozen guest posts with sites like Get Rich Slowly and Man Vs. Debt later, I realize the biggest obstacle holding me back was ME.

    I still get scared approaching big bloggers these days (and get rejected too). But I’ve learned to use that fear to motivate me to produce work that make people take notice. My fear doesn’t bother me as much anymore because I’ve learned how to deal with it.

  112. Nila

    Hi Ramit,
    Great post, thank you.

    One of my untested fears was approaching my boss for a pay rise. I never asked for a pay rise in the past because I didn’t want to rock the boat. I was so scared of being fired. I knew my boss value my work, but this didn’t stop me worrying about it.

    But I also knew that I deserved a pay rise and I should ask for one. So I went in, asked for a pay rise and talked about what I’ve been able to accomplish and how I plan to make the company more money in the years ahead.

    My boss didn’t even blink. He said, “Yes of course you can have 5%”. I smiled and said “Actually, I was hoping to get 10% increase.”

    I got my 10% pay rise. I knew I could have gotten more if I’ve done Ramit’s course. I didn’t know about it then.

    I still get scared making “unreasonable” request from people for fear of being rejected but not enough to stop me from asking anyway.