Meet Brandon C. Bailey. He hugged his fear and left his graphic design job at a small company to explore his creative pursuits, writing and web design. See how he did it. Fear and all.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Brandon C. Bailey. My education and job experience is in graphic design. I’m currently writing about living a creative life at my blog, Go Create Now!
What was one thing that you were scared to do and did anyway? And what exactly scared you about doing that one thing?
I left my job as a graphic designer at a small company I worked at for seven years. The advantages of working there were relative job stability and convenience—the office is about a block from where I live. Still, I was working a lot of hours. I wanted more flexibility with my time, so I could explore writing, art, and web design. I left with the intention of taking on some freelance work while focusing on side projects.
What scared me was failing and then being left with limited choices. There aren’t many design jobs in my area—Thibodaux, a small town in Louisiana. I didn’t want to be stuck with a long commute or stressful move.
What did you do or what happened to help you ultimately hug (overcome) your fear and do that thing?
Well, if I’m any type of risk taker, I’m a calculated risk taker. I set a goal for the amount of money I wanted to save before I left. This was in June of 2013, and I calculated that I would meet my goal by the end of the year. I set my date to leave on New Year’s Day 2014.
I didn’t want to back out. I told my managers that I would leave in 6 months. That way I would commit myself to it.
Things worked out. They valued me as an employee and wanted me to stay. I explained that I was ready for a change, and didn’t want to work in an office any more. I explained that I would be happy to work with them as a freelancer after I left. They agreed, so I left at the beginning of the year with a client who I had a good relationship with. This lessened the uncertainty.
Are there any books, practices or other resources that helped and/or continue to help you hug your fear?
Now that I’m in charge of my own time, Essentialism by Greg McKeown is invaluable. It’s about doing less so you can focus on what really matters. Too many people and businesses try to do too much. Real progress happens when you find what is important and focus on that.
On a heavier note, a little over a year ago I took some philosophy classes at the same school I received my art degree, Nicholls State University. This was my idea of fun, I was interested in the subject and took them during an extended lunch break at my job. One was on Existentialism, the philosophers we talked about included Sartre and Nietzsche.
These philosophers wrote about taking responsibility for your life, being authentic, and facing the reality of death. Not light reading. But this stuff was on my mind, my mother had passed away from cancer in 2010. I was thinking about existential questions a lot. Life, death, meaning—all that heavy stuff.
All this was a turning point in reevaluating my life. I sought to live an authentic life instead of one based off of societal expectations. To me, this meant making time for the creative work I loved to do. Any fears I had paled in comparison to the harsher realities of life. I was ready to make some changes and start living.
What would you say to someone who wanted to do something that scared them, but was struggling to take a step?
For big life decisions, I would say: think of the worst thing that could happen and prepare for it. Let’s take the idea of leaving a job to pursue a dream. What’s the worst possible result? Being homeless? Most of us would consider that bad, so take steps to prevent it. Save some money. Freelance. Cut cable. Get scrappy.
If you’re starting something creative, then taking the first step is key. Avoiding it just causes more anxiety. To keep things manageable, I find it helps to scale down your ideas. For instance, instead of writing a book, start with a blog. Instead of coding a big ambitious program, start with a small app. I call these scalable dreams. You can start small and build from there.
Also, be flexible. It’s okay to make goals, but don’t get too attached to them. Be open to opportunities. For instance, I was just going to leave my job and wing it. But my company still wanted to work with me. I kept the relationship open by freelancing for them and it helped me to make the transition.
If you’re flexible, you tend to adapt easier to change. So when making the big decisions, more doors open. With this state of mind, the situation turns out better than anticipated.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I would like to add that creativity is in all of us. I write on my blog about our ancestors who made those beautiful cave paintings in Lascaux about 17,000 years ago. To be creative is to be human.
I think creating helps to beat the fear. Even in making life decisions like leaving a job, we’re creating our lives. Like the book you refer to on your blog says: feel the fear and do it anyway. I think once we start ‘doing it’, whatever ‘it’ is, then the fear subsides. Then we’re like children at play again. When children create, they have little fear. They create for the sheer joy of creation. If we can get back to that state, and combine it with adult insight and skill, then I think that helps defeat the fear.
Isn’t Brandon’s story inspiring? Three things stuck out for me: First, I love how he prepared and set a goal, but didn’t allow himself to get stuck to the specific way it should unfold. He tweaked his plans as necessary and it seems to have worked in his favor.
Secondly, I love the idea of creating our lives and viewing what we are doing from a childlike place of creativity. I just imagine my child self painting freely or making up a story about some fanciful idea. Finding a way to harness that creative innocence is important in a way I never considered before, especially in regards to overcoming fear.
And finally, I love how many helpful books he shared with us! It’s no secret that I love sharing and finding new books to read. As a disclaimer, the links to the books mentioned here are affiliate links, which means that if you follow the link and decide to buy, I will get a small commission on the sale (it’ll cost you nothing extra). I will only do this for books that I’ve read or from those read by people I trust and if you like this blog, it’s a nice way to support the mission.
So what things stuck out to you while you read Brandon’s story? Share in the comments below. And if you have a story about hugging fear in your life, consider sharing it with the community and being featured one day on Hug Your Fear.
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Interview with Melissa Joy Kong: “Get excited about being terrified”
Interview with Louise Watson Pt 2 – “If even I can do it, anyone can!”