Afraid to Follow Your Dream? Read this First

What to do when you’re afraid following a business idea or dream will be a waste of time 

This post is for every person who has thought, “Could I do this for work?”. Anyone who has ever felt the calling to take a big leap, but is afraid it’ll turn out to be a waste of time, money or energy. If you’re nervous and afraid you won’t be good enough or if it won’t work out, you’re in the right place.

First, you are not alone. I see this again and again with my clients –  stuck right at the edge of the cliff. It’s like a blind corner that’s just a little too scary to go around. What if it’s a dead end and turns out to be a waste of time? What if it’s a street that I don’t belong on? What if there’s a giant pile of shit around the corner and there is NO WAY of knowing until I get there?

How do you know it’s going to work out ok? 

I have bad news for you: you won’t. 


There’s a way to figure out when you should do it anyway. Here’s how I help my clients decide. 

Recognize you will have to go into this not knowing everything. Our brains are wired in a way that makes the unknown difficult to contend with, because your brain can’t always tell the difference between a real threat – like a lion lying in wait – or a stressful new experience, like being on video for the first time. Those two very different experiences light up the same areas in your good ol’ reptile brain, and as a result, you’re probably freaking out. 

When that happens, stop yourself and ask,  “Is what my brain telling me helpful or new information?”

If it isn’t, take a deep breath and let your brain know you’ve got this –  you are not in mortal danger. For more on handling this, check out Shirzad Chamine’s work on Positive Intelligence and saboteurs. 

Recognize the truth: It might not work out. BUT something else will happen no matter what. Let me share with you what I learned from jumping off my own cliff. 

Eleven years ago, I wanted to open a bakery for people with special dietary needs. I wanted anyone, no matter their allergies or food restrictions, to be able to walk into an adorable bakery with gold letters on the door, look into a glass pastry case of glorious treats and order anything they wanted. It would taste delicious, and they would feel safe eating it. Joy would be everywhere! 

I was working as a nurse at the time. To make my dream come true, my husband and I did some financial re-arrangement so I could cut back to part-time nursing work. I worked as a nurse three days a week, went to pastry school two days a week, took French lessons two nights a week to translate pastry recipes, worked through the night on Friday nights at a start-up specialty bakery that couldn’t afford to pay me, then went and sold the baked goods at a farmers market on Saturday mornings. Saturday afternoons I collapsed, then did it all again the next week. It was tough, but I was working toward my dream.

Then we found out we were pregnant. 

I knew that getting pregnant was a possibility, but it had seemed like a remote one. We were trying, but as I’ve learned from living through infertility with some dear, dear friends, the process can take awhile or not happen at all. I didn’t want the idea that we might (hopefully) get pregnant stop me from following a dream, just in case a baby didn’t happen. (To all the people who happen to read this and it didn’t happen, I see you and feel you, loves.)

I started to think through what it would really be like owning a bakery while raising a child. The crazy hours, the razor thin margins, managing a staff… it didn’t sound good. Suddenly working as a well-paid nurse part-time and being with our daughter the other days, not having to worry about if a flour shipment came in or a special order went wrong… suddenly, that felt like the right thing. 

I dropped out of pastry school. 

I quit the bakery. 

I completed the semester of French and put it away. 

I started shopping at the farmer’s market instead of working at it. 

When a family friend heard my story, she said, “Oh, I’m so sorry. What a waste!” 

I had an immediate strong reaction. 

“NO! It wasn’t a waste at all! I KNOW now! I never have to wonder if I should have pursued that dream.” 

I still feel that way. I took the leap. I jumped off the cliff. I did it, and it helped me realize what I wanted most. After I had experienced it, the choice was real. It was the best money and time we ever spent. And I’m pretty amazing at making french tarts, even if I am technically a pastry school drop out.

Sometimes it will work out… but only sort of. Sometimes that’s even better. 

When you take the leap, even if it doesn’t work out, you can grab the part that is clear – unknowns that you now know – and take the next step. 

You’ll try something and realize, “This part was awesome, but this part I never want to do again!” That’s incredibly valuable information! 

So you take that information and move forward, adjusting your plan with the new data. Right now, the work I’m doing that I love, at one point was just a little glimmer of a dream. It took two years of experimenting with blogging, taking personal development courses, working with a coach, creating stuff and working freelance jobs, to figure out what I love most and what was most viable as a business model. 

Did I end up working in underpaying jobs that I didn’t love? Yep. But I met some incredible people, people that helped me figure out the next step. 

Did I pay for some classes that turned out not to be home runs? Yep. But it helped me learn what I didn’t want to do, what didn’t excite me, and what things I could pass on in the future. 

Did I pay people to help me with things in my business, then realize that I was pivoting and didn’t actually need that thing now? Yep, but every single person I’ve hired was someone I’ve learned something valuable from. 

None of it was wasted. Because it brought me to where I am now, so excited to wake up every day and coach my clients. Happy to make content when I dreaded it before because I have something to say. I set my rates and my schedule so that I love life. If I hadn’t worked for so many other entrepreneurs, I wouldn’t know how I wanted my business to work. 

Here is the secret: you will never feel ready enough or have the whole picture


What you learn in the midst of doing it is literally the only way to get to the next right step. 

The first door you walk through might not be the right one, but it’s the only way to know that and to get to the next door. 

Plus… what if it DOES work out?!? Well. That could be amazing. 

What is the thing you want to do or try, but are afraid it will be a waste? 

What’s the first step in trying it? 

It has to be something you do. Action brings clarity. Thinking and planning can only take you so far. 

What is it? 

For me it was signing up for that first pastry school class. For my current career, it was hitting publish on the first blog post. 

Everyone should get to do work they love, for money that makes them happy, in a way that fits their big life goals. This is possible for you. Because as Marie Forleo says, “It’s all Figureoutable”. 

Do you need help figuring out the next right thing or finding clarity? That’s when working with a coach can be really valuable. You know this when I’ll give a shameless plug for yours truly as a coach! ???? Book an intro call with me and see if we fit! If I’m not the right coach for you, I’ll help you find someone who is. 

In the meantime, take the next step. Just do it. And after you do, tell me about it! Email me to tell me the thing you did at Can’t wait to hear about it and cheer you on! 

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