Fear of Projects – How to handle your megalofear

Thank goodness we have size fear. Imagine visiting the beach for the first time and deciding to swim across the ocean. Imagine looking in a pastry shop window and deciding to eat everything in the display. Thank goodness we have something in us that says “Whoa! Wait. You can’t tangle with that.” Without size fear/respect we would be in big trouble from big things.

Megalophobia is the diagnostic term used in psychotherapy for fear of the big. Those who suffer with it often report being overwhelmed with anxiety in the presence of big objects or open spaces. How different is that when we look at something big: a big career change; a big obligation; a big idea; a big team effort; a big creative undertaking?  Something of the same sort of anxiety can stop us in our tracks, snap visions of us being stomped on,  and those visions send us running in the opposite direction.

When facing the great unknown, a new project, a potential new path, or most things that are truly new, we get hit with fear of big things. Of course we do. What do we really know about that something new?  Do we know how long the whole thing will take to complete?  Do we know every step involved?  Do we know how much time every step will take?  That’s considering the time factor, what about our energy factor?  How much energy will this project/activity take?  Do we have any to spare?  Can we get help to carry the load?  Are there any short cuts?

Handling Megalofear

Expect to Freak Out When You Take Your First Look at a New Project – Of course we will feel fear. What, after all do we really know about the project?  Do we, or even many experts in this area really have a firm grasp on how much time, energy, emotion, and money is required to pull it off?  Experts are closer at knowing all of these factors but most experts miss their deadlines/estimates because each of these factors involve so many other related factors. And really, few people keep highly accurate and usable records of what they did and what all went into it. When we look at a new project, we are really staring into the unknown. Humans find the unknown exciting but it also is downright fear inducing.  Expect fear.

Challenge Yourself Not to Believe Your Eyes – Don’t accept your first view that shows your project as an irreducible mass. That is not true.  Your project is made of a huge number of small chunks. Bring your eyes in closer.  Identify ten chunks you can see right now. Cut those chunks into at least two smaller chunks.

Get Some Answers on What is Truly Involved – Reduce the long list of unknowns about your project by talking to people who have tackled such things before. Any information you can get will help shrink the overwhelming nature of the project down to a size that is more realistic than what our fears cast in our minds. If you can’t find some experts in the flesh, use virtual networking, articles, and books to come to clarify your vision.

Chop the Big Into Small Chunks – Start somewhere. Everywhere you look, you will find a chunk to work with. Break it down and then break it down some more until you can find the 15 or 20 minute chunks that you can work on daily or multiple times per week.

Chunk the Chunk if You Freak-Out Again – Clearly, you have not picked a chunk you can handle if you find yourself freaking out. You haven’t done enough thinking small and have not picked the size for your: skills, time available, other pressures, personality, etc. Back off and take a good look. Chunk the chunk.

–  Integrate Chunk Working Fully Into Your Life – By this I don’t mean doing some dramatic life change, but I am asking that each day, work is done on a chunk to move the project forward. If not everyday, every other day.

Cultivate an Affection and Appreciation for the Long Road – The old statement, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” is true but we also need to know that it is completed by keeping to a steady stream of single steps. Embrace the single step and, to mix metaphors, embrace the small chunk.

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5 thoughts on “Fear of Projects – How to handle your megalofear

  1. Great blogs..all of them! My problem is that all of my ideas and projects are TOO big and I have too many in my head at one time. I am not afraid of tackling any of them, but it seems my brain is great at concept and the big picture…just not the in-between and making it happen. Thus, I tend to go in circles and never get started on many of them. Others I have:)

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  2. I hear this a lot, a person is great at generating ideas but the follow-through does not follow-through. What I suggest is really think hard about shifting gears and start working with others. A team of an idea person AND a follow-through person would be fantastic. I realize this involves “giving out ideas” in a sense but working with others to actually move ideas into reality is likely to be much more fulfilling than to have a bag of unrealized ideas.

    Consider partnerships and teamwork.

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  3. Wonderful advice! Also, I know of one prolific author who is well-known on the best-seller charts who writes a page a day on a new novel. Another nugget I like: “show up to the page.” And finally, James Thurber: “Don’t get it write, just get it written.” These all help me to keep coming back and making progress on the novel that at times just seems to huge a project to finish. It’s not; if I follow these adages, and add the advice in the article above, it’s definitely a completed project, and not a novel I’m writing eternally and never finishing.

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