In quiet moments, when you reflect on your life, what’s your assessment?
Hopefully, there are many achievements you’re able to point to. But, on closer examination, can you think of any goals or dreams you’ve done nothing about?
What’s stopping you?
One of the likeliest answers is fear. It’s one of the universal emotions with which we all identify. I’m not talking about the kind of fear that keeps us safe, prevents us from doing stupid things, and warns us when we’re in danger.
I’m talking about the type of fear that paralyzes us and keeps us from realizing our full potential.
Think about some things you’ve always wanted to achieve or do. If after truthful analysis you can say these dreams still align with your passions, values and deepest desires, yet you still haven’t made an effort to achieve them, then fear is likely holding you back.
For the important things you’ve accomplished, give yourself acknowledgment and praise. You deserve it. Perhaps you’ve cultivated a deep and lasting love with your partner. Raised happy and loving children. Backpacked through South America. These are wonderful accomplishments so give yourself kudos.
But for those remaining dreams where you suspect fear is the culprit holding you hostage, try these three techniques to confront fear and kick it to the curb.
1. Find The Excitement Hiding Behind Your Fear
Think about why you’re afraid. Chances are, it’s because you’re contemplating something meaningful and unknown. You will find courage in the simple recognition of this fact.
Think about how empowered you’ll feel when you push past your fear and feel the joy of doing something bold and significant.
Instead of continuing to worry, focus on how much joy you’ll feel when you accomplish your goal and realize the reward of a dream achieved.
George Herbert said:
Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right.’ Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.
Focusing your thoughts in this positive way will fuel your excitement and help you move past your fear.
2. Know That You Are Not Alone
Everyone feels fear, especially when contemplating the unknown. It’s part of being human.
It’s helpful to reach out to someone trustworthy and share your apprehension. Most people, especially those further along a similar path, will be sympathetic and empathetic.
Examine your network. Whom do you know? Whom do you trust? Who believes in you, even when you don’t believe in yourself?
Those people are your tribe and will build you up by being your advocate and cheerleader. They will lift you up and boost your spirit when you stumble and cheer you on when you succeed.
3. Have A Plan
There may be a host of reasons why you’re afraid but an excellent way to minimize fear is to have a plan, which addresses your underlying doubts.
Are you afraid:
- because you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing?
- of being judged?
- of failure?
- of success?
Creating a detailed plan and outlining your goals will assuage your worries. Your plan can include your large overarching goal but must also include smaller steps with realistic dates by which you intend to achieve these goals. This is how you keep yourself on track and accountable to yourself.
A good plan is like a road map: it shows the final destination and usually the best way to get there. – H. Stanely Judd
Also include in your plan the absolute worst-case scenario of the thoughts that concern you. Write them down. When you look at them on paper, are these fears rational or irrational?
For example, a rational fear is realizing that the pursuit of your dream will negatively affect your health or your important relationships. If this is the case, then re-examining your dream is necessary.
If your fears are irrational, however, and based mostly on emotion, ask yourself if when you’re 80 years old, the choice not to pursue your dream will cause you regret.
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. – Arthur Ashe
Fear is normal. Even the best among us experiences trepidation and doubt. The key is not to let fear paralyze you and keep you from taking action.
Focusing on the joy and excitement inherent in your dream, finding your tribe and preparing your plan are techniques to combat fear and bring dreams closer to reality.
How about you? What are your fears and what are some techniques you use to overcome them?