How To Give Yourself Permission To Try

It’s easier to come up with excuses not to do things than it is to summon the courage to try.

But Annie Franceschi’s book Permission To Try: 11 Things You Need to Hear When You’re Scared To Change Your Life can help you overcome those excuses.

Following is my interview with Annie — who runs the small business branding agency Greatest Story Creative and is a For The Interested newsletter subscriber — about what it takes to give yourself permission to try and what happens when you do.

1. How would you describe the main lesson of the book in three sentences?

Too often, seeking permission keeps us in jobs we hate, relationships that are toxic, and lives we don’t want.

When it comes to permission, we look to everyone and everything for it.

But the only way to meaningfully change our lives or careers is we have to choose to give ourselves permission to try.

2. How do you hope a person’s life will change or improve if they read this book?

I really hope that this book helps you try something that scares you (that you can’t get out of your head!).

It’s our human nature to dream, but then to stop ourselves because… what will other people say? What if I fail? What if I’m not talented enough?

My hope is that this book is that push you need to try new things that will change your life and career, and that you feel supported, cheered on, and understood by somebody like me, who’s been there before.

3. Why do you think people are so intimidated to try things?

I think most of us fear change more than we fear the status quo.

The crappy job we have, the frustrating boss, the bad boyfriend — these are the “devils we know.” We know how to cope with our mediocre lives, but we’re not sure how to navigate the unknown.

There’s also the risk that things could get worse from what we know them to be now, so that’s scary. There’s also, I believe, a feeling that often we’re not talented enough compared to others. We can never achieve another’s level of talent-caused success, therefore, we deduce, it doesn’t make sense to try.

I call this “star-gazing.”

4. What’s one idea or belief that emerged for you during the writing of the book that you didn’t think about before writing it?

While I was writing the book, I was going through an awful personal season of dealing with infertility.

It’s been during the lowest points of this season that I’ve felt so lost that I’ve learned the big lesson to value what others see in you. It took crying my eyes out to my dad, begging him to just fix all my problems, for me to realize that I was “tough.”

I felt like a mess, but when my dad said, “Hey, you’re tough. And you’re bigger than all your problems.” I could finally see this in myself, and give myself much-needed credit.

That notion of valuing what others see in you is powerful, especially in seasons of life where you feel defeated.

I have come to believe how important it is to ask your friends and family for their perspective on your strengths when you are struggling to give yourself credit and appreciation for the person you are and the value you have.

5. Let’s talk about your branding and storytelling expertise. What’s your number one tip for business owners who are trying to figure out their brand?

My favorite tip is simple, easy, inexpensive, and may sound oddly basic: Always have business cards on you!

I see small business owners so worried about perfecting their brand, or having the best logo, that they aren’t prepared for the easiest, most common opportunity: connecting with people in person.

Anyone and everyone should have a business card (side business, full-time, unemployed, student, etc.), even if it’s something you design using a template on VistaPrint! The reason being: you never want to be caught empty-handed at an opportunity.

I can’t believe how often this happens and it’s my personal mission to encourage every business owner to get a business card ASAP, if they do nothing else right now to improve their brand and grow their business.

6. What advice would you have for somebody who isn’t sure what they want to try something?

I’d really encourage you to try the thing you’re curious about in some capacity, even if you’re not 100% sure.

If you’re curious about moving to California, don’t drop everything and move but hey — maybe plan a quick trip there soon!

If you’re thinking of starting a jewelry business, don’t buy a ton of supplies, but maybe take a pop-up class or two.

See what you can to do tip your toe in the water, and also keep in mind, trying things has a way of leading you to directions you may have never imagined.

For my own story, my business was born from a totally other business of “trying” to sell wooden bouquet pins for weddings. I never sold a pin, but my business spun out into a branding agency!

Who would have seen that coming!?

7. Which idea in your book do you think goes most against the conventional wisdom or which one will people be most surprised by?

Chapter 3 is “Go Beyond ‘Do What You Love’” and I think this one gets at why “Do What You Love” is an incomplete and somewhat misleading mantra, in my opinion.

Sometimes “doing what you love” isn’t going to lead you to a fulfilling purpose because it’s lacking a key factor.

I believe “Do what you love” needs an asterisk on it — so it should be, “Do what you love, and what you are good at, that adds value to other people.”

That’s really the secret to rewarding success, and why I think so many people don’t quite find or make money at “doing what they love” because often it’s missing that third ingredient: adding value to other people — ideally in a way they’ll pay you for!

8. What advice would you give to somebody who has given themselves permission to try, but is struggling to succeed?

I’d point them to Chapter 4, “Action Beats Talent.”

Struggles are a part of all of our journeys, and they’re still most definitely a part of mine. Trying is part of the recipe, and “not giving up” is another ingredient.

Not everything you try will work, but it’s the action you take that matters.

Eddie Cantor once said, “It takes twenty years to make an overnight success.”

Know you’re going to try a lot of things that don’t work, but it’s worth it to keep trying when you find those things that do.

Don’t quit too early, and remember, action will trump quiet, inactive brilliance and talent, every single time.