“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
Fear is an emotion that we all experience. It’s a necessary part of life because fear tells our bodies that there is an emotional or physical danger which activates the fight or flight syndrome. But you can also feel fear when danger is not present. It can be a fear of failure, fear of success, or just a fear of the unknown. Whatever it is, if not dealt with effectively, this kind of fear can paralyze you and keep you from going after what you want in life.
Go talk to any successful person in any industry or profession and they will all have a story about overcoming fear. It’s just one obstacle on the road to success. You can either sit on the sidelines, let fear control you, and watch life pass you by or you can face your fear and live a more fulfilled life. Hopefully, your choice is the latter, so here are my 7 tips for moving past fear so you can move towards the life of your dreams:
1. Examine what you’re afraid of and the reason for the fear.
This step will require you to be completely honest with yourself. Don’t try to examine every fear in your life, but rather focus on the fear that keeps you from going after what you want in life. Write down what you’re afraid of and the reason for the fear. For example, if you’re afraid to open the restaurant you’ve been dreaming of since you graduated college determine what is the cause of this fear. Don’t accept excuses from yourself like – I don’t have the money, the economy is bad, I don’t have the time, etc. Let’s get to the root of what holds you back. Is it a fear that you’re not good enough, fear of repeating past mistakes, fear of what others will think? Pinpoint exactly what it is and write it down.
2. What will you gain by overcoming the fear?
Now write down the benefit of doing the thing you’re afraid of. Take the time to be very detailed and paint a picture of what life will be like if you start that restaurant. Your list may include things like doing what you love, leaving a legacy for your kids, sharing your gift with others, etc. The goal is to create a vision that is so compelling that the desire begins to outweigh the fear.
3. Commit to overcoming it.
I believe the first step to accomplishing any goal starts with deciding that you are going to do it. Overcoming fear is no different. I’ve also learned that when we draw a line in the sand and decide we’re going to do something, our minds start working to figure out how to make it come true. If you’ve ever had lots of ideas flood your mind after making a decision, then you’ve experienced what I’m talking about. So, decide right now that you will unequivocally get past this fear.
4. Remember your past experiences.
I think it can be very beneficial to remember past fears and how you overcame them. One of my experiences that I draw motivation from quite often is being laid off a couple of weeks before Christmas during a recession. At the time, I was scared to death because I couldn’t find a full-time job and I had no idea how I would pay my mortgage. During that time, I found strength and courage I didn’t know I had and managed to keep my house. So now anytime I’m afraid, I just say to myself, “if I can make it almost 2 years without full-time work, I can handle this.”
5. Research others that have done what you want to do.
The Internet makes it easy to learn anything you want in the comfort of your own home. So why not learn about other people who have succeeded at what you want to do and then model the actions of those who’ve gone before you. Afraid you’re too old to open that restaurant? Well, Colonel Sanders was 62 before he opened the first KFC. Fear you’re too young? Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, became wealthy in college. And there are many more stories like these. Do your research and use their stories as motivation to go after your dreams.
6. Get a mentor.
Now take it one step further and get a mentor. Who do you know or have access to that would be willing to coach you? Even if you don’t know someone who’s done exactly what you want to accomplish, but they have some experience you will need, learn as much as you can from them. I’ve recently learned that Facebook groups are valuable resources too because most people in the group are quick to answer questions and share their experiences.
7. Take baby steps
There’s nothing left to do, but get started. So, set some goals and start working towards your dream. You don’t have to quit your job and spend all your savings either. Figure out how you can start small and commit to working towards your goals every day. Keeping with our previous example of starting a restaurant, you could start out catering, selling dinners on the weekend, or even working part-time in a restaurant to learn the business. Think outside the box and be creative. If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying until you do. For more information on dealing with failure, read our post The Beauty in Failure.
It’s important to understand that no one is immune to fear and it’s just a natural part of life. What fears have you dealt with and what did you do to overcome them?
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