The Truth About What’s Holding You Back

Restraining Order

I’ve got a ton of interview requests in my inbox right now. I don’t know when my answers to this one will be posted, so I wanted to share it with you right now:

Q: When you speak with others who haven’t started their own business, launched their own product such as a new online course, what do you find are the most typical reasons they state holding them back? Do you feel there are other reasons they don’t state that are holding them back? What did you do to overcome your hurdles and have you found ways to help others overcome theirs?

A: You want the real reason, or the reason people want to hear?

The real reason is: Nothing. Nothing is “holding them back.”

Most people don’t genuinely want to be responsible for their own financial fate. They may daydream about “running their own business some day,” but they leave those daydreams firmly in the realm of fantasy. They don’t research it, talk to people about it, read books, etc. They prefer the fantasy to the reality. And there’s nothing wrong with that… until they say that something else is “holding them back”. That turns an idle fantasy into a bulwark of lies.

That was true of me, too, for a long time. (About creating a product biz anyway — I was running a small consulting agency for ages.) While I didn’t claim something was holding me back, I did seem to simply… never… do it. Then I took a long vacation and was out of the loop for a month and heard a small, quiet voice saying, “You hate consulting. You fucking loathe it. You know what you need to do.”

Then I came back from my vacation and did it. We started building Freckle two months later.

So, what to do about this, if you realize it sounds familiar?

Nothing. Stop lying to yourself, for sure, but otherwise? There’s absolutely no way to get over the hurdle of not really wanting it… until you do want it.

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  1. Jim Gay

    There is no better answer than this. When that question is asked of others or of ourselves, we are looking for excuses. An interviewer asking this question is asking for a reason his/her readers can be happy with their excuses and work on something that isn’t directly related to success.

    Bravo, Amy.

  2. Shola

    That community your described sounds like it can/may be totally disruptive and interesting as well. Will you be updating folks on your mailing list about it?

    I’ll keep a look out for it ;)

  3. Lucas

    I read this post during my vacation. Feels like this post is talking to me. Now my vacation is over, time to get the ball rolling, been procrastinating for far too long to work on my idea. Thanks Amy!

  4. Julio Reguero

    Like you, in the past, I also have had enough dealing with arrogant and mediocre bosses, feeling angry, frustrated, guilty and hopeless. [details redacted] I have also dissolved my own design studio.

    Conclusion: I’m done with employment and consulting. Now I feel healthy, happy, confident, and finally in control of my life and its direction. I’ll be focusing most of my efforts in building a B2C online marketplace.

    Amy, thank you for inspiring me to be the best I can be, doing what I most like to do and on my own terms.


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