Fear vs. Ambition: Closing the Gap Between Knowing and Doing


I will never forget the moment I decided to become a full-time freelancer.

I was eager and ambitious to finally build my own business and pursue my creative passion on my own terms. But lurking beneath it all was a growing fear: fear that I would fail miserably, lose all my savings, and return to the security of a 9-to-5, regretting leaving it.

We have all encountered this defining moment. We have a clear understanding of our career and life goals. However, we become paralysed by the fear of what it will take to reach our destination. This struggle between fear and ambition is a constant struggle for freelancers, designers, and creatives.

Today, I'd like to shed light on the intriguing fear-ambition paradox. On my journey as a freelancer, I will describe how I have dealt with fear. And I'll provide some practical advice on how to use ambition to overcome fear and bridge the gap between knowing what you want and doing what it takes to achieve it.

🤯 Understanding the Fear-Ambition Paradox

Ambition is a double-edged sword.

The passion and drive to achieve your biggest dreams can also trigger intense fears—fear of criticism, failure, financial ruin, disappointment, or the unknown. After going freelance, I constantly wrestled with this paradox. My burning ambition to grow my business collided with my fear of financial instability and risk.

😰 Common Fears Freelancers and Creatives Face

From imposter syndrome to the fear of missing out, we freelancers share many universal fears, including:

  • Fear of failure and criticism, especially for our personal passion projects, but we have to take risks and put ourselves out there if we ever want to succeed. Every failure brings lessons.
  • Fear of financial ruin or instability, but with proper planning, networking, and smart money management, we can build safety nets.
  • Fear of isolation and loneliness, but surrounding ourselves with community, mentors, and colleagues provides vital human connection.

💪 Harnessing Ambition to Confront Fears

The key I’ve learned is harnessing ambition intentionally as a tool to confront rather than run from fears.

Here are a few tips that have worked for me:

  1. Acknowledge the Fear: Pretending it doesn't exist is like ignoring a brewing storm. Take time to identify what exactly you are afraid of and why. Name the fear to take away its power.
  2. Crystallise Your Ambition: Visualise your success in vivid detail. How does it look, sound, feel? Make your ambition sensory and emotional to ignite your passion.
  3. Convert Fear into Fuel: Let each doubt or worry further clarify your ambition and push you to refine your plans, acquire skills, and adapt as needed. Self-doubt can strengthen your strategies.
  4. Cultivate a Growth Mindset: View obstacles as opportunities to learn and grow rather than signals to quit. Maintain perspective—this too shall pass.
  5. Focus on What You Can Control: Direct energy towards preparation and action instead of fixating on uncertain outcomes. Stay present in the process.

Confronting fear requires ongoing focus and courage. But making ambition your steadfast ally will help you break through barriers, again and again. You’ve got this!

🎯 Bridging the Gap Between Knowing and Doing

Once we stop seeing fear as a roadblock and instead embrace it as a companion to ambition, everything changes.

We can now bridge the frustrating gap between knowing what we want in our careers and lives and taking action to get there. The personal growth, opportunities, and self-confidence that result are endless.

I urge you to open up to your fears, harness your mighty ambitions, and start taking small steps outside your comfort zone. Amazing rewards await those who face their fears and turn ambition into action!

What "impossible" ambitions are you finally ready to pursue?

Thanks for reading!