The Fear of Taking the First Step

Taking the first step means going towards a different place. Somewhere new, where things may not go as you planned or expected. Taking the first step means exposing yourself to failure and rejection.
The Fear of Taking the First Step

Last update: 08 June, 2019

The fear of taking the first step is the main thing that sabotages your dreams, both big and small. It’s precisely in that first step where most people get stuck because fear takes a hold of you. However, if you get going, then your fears will magically dissolve. As soon as you hit the road, you’ll most likely end up realizing that you’re a lot more capable than you thought you were when you began.

When you allow fear to take over and rule your actions, you postpone those challenges that really matter to you. The fear of taking the first step takes precedence and perhaps you’ll end up spending more time imagining the possible risks than getting enough courage to go after what you truly want. Yes, it’s natural for human beings to be apprehensive in the face of what’s unknown or challenging. Because getting out your comfort zone makes you restless and awakens the insecurities you carry deep inside.

Hence the fear of taking the first step, which means getting out of your comfort zone and exposing yourself to uncertainty. However, if you don’t, then it’s likely that you’ll never accomplish your dreams and goals. So, how to overcome that fear that invades you and keeps you from getting out of your comfort zone and taking that first step?

“Do the difficult things while they’re easy and do the great things while they’re small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”

-Lao Tzu-

The First Key to Overcoming the Fear of Taking the First Step

It’s quite common to hear that you can overcome your fears by facing them. But however common it may be, it’s definitely true as there’s just no other way. You have to confront your fears knowing that they won’t seem as big once you get going. Also, confronting means identifying your fears. That is, to be specific of what you’re so afraid of in order to begin the process to own them.

Identify what it is you’re protecting yourself from or what you’re trying to avoid. Knowing whether you’re afraid of failing if you’re not able to overcome the challenges that come your way or afraid of specific past experiences. In this regard, write it all down, explain it to yourself and don’t let it influence you below your level of consciousness. Thus, by recognizing the existence of your fears, you’ll be in a better position to manage them.

In order to overcome your fear of taking the first step, the first thing you have to do is name what you fear. Do it regardless of how absurd it may sound. Honor and acknowledge your fears and confront them in order to define them. Then, they’ll most likely begin to fade.

The Effects of Inaction

Close up of a person's feet walking.

Think about what would happen if you succumb to the fear of taking the first step. If you’ve set a goal for yourself, it’s only because it represents a need or desire you have. Imagine what would happen if you freeze up and fail to act upon it.

At this point, pay attention to the negative things you say to yourself. To that inner voice that tells you how staying in the path that you’re familiar with is safer than the path you’re yet to explore. Pay attention to all those silly, defeatist affirmations you tell yourself and try to overcome them.

Be conscious that the insecurity you feel is normal; quite positive in fact. It’s good to be wary and protect yourself. It’s definitely a force that helps you be more cautious and better measure the consequences of your actions.

The Now, the Push, and the Nudge

A painting of woman rooting on the ground.

It’s common that, when you’re confronted with the fear of taking the first step, your first strategy will be to postpone or avoid whatever it is you’re afraid of. You’ll wait until next week or for after exams or until the new year. In reality, this is a trap. Your fears won’t go away by postponing and avoiding them. On the contrary, they’ll just grow bigger. So, it’s better if you commit yourself to overcoming them.

Meanwhile, look for support among the people you trust. Surround yourself with strong people who’ll help you gather strength instead of making you feel more insecure.

In general, those who dare to take the first step and advance are the ones who advance. On the contrary, the people who are stuck in their comfortable lives and seek no transcendence are usually the ones who try to persuade you to be complacent and give in to your fears.

In the end, all you need is a little push. And perhaps you’ll have to give it to yourself. Stop thinking and start acting. The day you overcome that paralyzing fear of taking the first step, everything else will be easier. But, of course, you won’t know it until after you take the first step.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Miravalles, A. F., i Valero, J. A. S., & Gil, J. M. S. (2015). Salir de la zona de confort. Dilemas y desafíos en el EEES. Tendencias pedagógicas, 23, 205-214.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.