Fear vs. Ambition vs. All or Nothing Thinking

Aka the world’s longest blog post title.

I get asked a lot how my business is going.  I so appreciate friends being interested in my work!  And my answer varies.  In fact, sometimes I’m not really sure how to answer.  I do still take clients and I do still work.  My littlest guy is in school two days a week now so that has opened up some time to work.  Its also shown me that I don’t enjoy working the entire time he’s at school and that for my own sanity I enjoy taking some of that time to do other things like grocery shop and clean my house, listen to podcasts & music, or just watch tv.  I know that all of this is a complete luxury and for that I’m very grateful.  Not all women have the option of choosing when and how much to work and I’m aware of that.  So I say all of this out of that knowledge and with a grateful heart of the situation I’m in.


A gallery wall layout I’ve been working on with a client.

Sometimes I wonder why I haven’t pursued my business more, why I haven’t taken it “to the next level.”  Why don’t I feel a drive to grow my client base, make things more “official,” etc?  Some of it, I think for sure, is a little bit of fear.  I don’t actually know much of anything about business.  I know what I’ve taught myself about design, I know what I love to do, and that’s about it.  I struggle with pricing myself and how much my service should be worth.  I struggle at times with “selling” my ideas and my view of design because I truly believe it is SO subjective.

I admire my favorite designers like Lauren Liess, Shea McGee, Emily Henderson.  They all work so hard and have such a defined style and client base.  I wonder about what it must take to get to that point.  What kind of ambition, sacrifices, hours of hard work, constant learning from mistakes, networking, etc has it taken?

I told myself at the beginning of this year when my littlest started preschool I was going to take the year to decide if I was really going to “go for it” in that sense.  That I would pray, work, use the year to educate myself in the business world some and then decide: will I go for it or will I just stop? I’ve spent so long just sort of awkwardly wavering in between.  Always on the edge of fear and ambition.


A playroom/homeschool moodboard currently in process.

And so I have done exactly that over the past few months.

I’ve prayed, I’ve read, I’ve taken on some new projects, I even signed up for a design business class with Holly Mathis (another designer who’s work I truly admire!!) that will happen later this month.  More on that later, for sure.

And now I find myself in a little different mindset: does it really have to be all or nothing?

I read Present over Perfect recently (more on that later, too) and I resonated with so much of it.  If you’ve read it you know it speaks a lot to the workaholic (which I am not).  But it also speaks to remembering to be present in the moments when you’d rather distract or numb.  I can often find myself being lazy and/or afraid, desiring to numb rather than face whatever’s really going on.  And that distracts from my goal of doing this work thing intentionally.  That’s the word that’s coming to me in this season.  That’s how I desire this to be whether its small or big or nothing at all.  Whatever it is, I want it to be thoughtful and intentional.  Not haphazard and certainly not motivated by fear.


A simple neutral guest room also in process right now.

So for now I work in a small way.  And I’m discovering thats okay.  It doesn’t mean I’m afraid.  I can work in confidence and take on what I feel capable taking on.  I want to take on what is good for our family and then say no.   I’m still learning how that looks for now, but anyway, that’s the long answer to “how’s your work going?” in case you ever wondered. 🙂

If you’ve read this far, you get a trophy now.  Thanks, friends, I’ll be back soon.

xoxo Bethany

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10 Responses to Fear vs. Ambition vs. All or Nothing Thinking

  1. Kelly Sobieski November 3, 2016 at 12:25 pm #

    Bethany, I love this! Your transparency is refreshing. So much of this resonates with me… especially these words: “for now I work in a small way…”

    • Bethany November 4, 2016 at 12:06 pm #

      Thank you, Kelly!

  2. Susan November 3, 2016 at 12:32 pm #

    Yes! I did this when mine were little and it made all the difference for our lives.

    “You can do it all– but not at the same time” was one of my favorite sayings at the time.

    Now I lean on “to everything there is a season”.

  3. Teri November 3, 2016 at 6:56 pm #

    I love how you are able to really relate your heart and I feel like I truly understand exactly what you’re saying…..you have such a gift in making things beautiful and functional….and I know it brings you joy…..but I can really understand your inner thought that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing….I love that you give yourself the freedom to have times of taking on less or taking on more, depending on different areas of need in your life at the time….and just how you feel about it at any given time!…….hey, have fun at the design business class!!

  4. Joni Duke November 3, 2016 at 8:11 pm #

    Yes! I so like your words – intentional, confidence, good for our family, being present. Good reminders for all of us that we’re not called to be cookie-cutter replicas or guilt-driven performers! I’m so thankful for you and your desire to be transparent and real, dear Bethany!!

  5. nancy November 4, 2016 at 11:03 am #

    Have to say as i was reading this i was thinking “you’re my tribe” 🙂 i have struggled with these same feelings (and then some). in case you’re inclined i wrote about it on my personal blog here:

    I’ll be at Holly’s class too later this month and I look forward to meeting you 😉

  6. Hillary November 15, 2016 at 5:40 pm #


    I have to say I relate so much to this post. I too find myself on the pendulum swinging between doing more and staying where I’m at. I only recently dicovered my love for interior decorating. I stay home with my two year old twins and find it very easy to tell myself I don’t have time for more than I already do right now–which only consists of scrolling design photos on instagram and following a few blogs (including this one 🙂 ). But I haven’t been able to get this post off my mind since a read it! To me this is the universe telling me I can do more.

    I don’t have trouble with ideas or inspiration. I love reading about design and pondering what to do next in my home. The trouble I have is with execution–sometimes it is hard for me to see how things will actually look. I would love to start building mood boards to bridge that gap between idea and reality. Tell me, where do I start? What program do you use to make your mood boards??

    Thank for for being a inspiration. YOU ARE. I too read Emily Henderson and such and find your writing and work so refreshing in comparison because you are more relatable. I look at your blog and think “my house is never going to look like Em H’s but maybe I could get it to look something like this.” Thanks for all you do.

    Hillary C.

    • Bethany November 16, 2016 at 8:29 am #

      Hillary- your comment means more to me than you know. Thank you so much for blessing me in that way.

      I so relate to the season of life you’re in (except for the twins part!!) because it was when I was staying home with my oldest son that I discovered my love of decorating. At first it was just pinterest and reading blogs, but I did play around with a moodboard app for a while. I never had a great one, it would keep crashing and I would lose my work. There might be better ones now though.

      Now I use Keynote (Mac’s version of powerpoint.). I take a screenshot on my computer (command + shift + 4 on a Mac) and then drag the picture into the blank slide. From there I can edit it and take out (most) of the background on the picture using the “instant alpha” function. This probably sounds confusing and may not even be helpful if you don’t have a mac. I learned some of this taking a few classes from Kirsten Krason on atly.com. Some of it my husband helped me with because he’s a Mac guy. Kirsten Krason (you may know of her) is from House of Jade Interiors and used to have a blog I loved called 6thstreet Design School. I learned a lot from her. One of these days I’ll do a tutorial video about making a moodboard!

      Thanks again for your comment and encouragement. xoxo


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