I met a sassy blonde haired Southern talking woman in the Fall of 2011. She came to be a speaker for a women’s conference that I had put together and had extensive experience mentoring, coaching, and counseling women. She spent a couple days with me and on the second day looked at me matter of factly and said, “You have a lot of fear in your life”. What?
No I don’t. I lead this nonprofit, organize events, do public speaking, am starting a thrift store for the organization, try new things, do new things, say more things than should be said, and am not afraid to go anywhere and do new things. She gave me a stern look and said, “Uh huh, you have fear”.
She was right. After doing some soul searching I learned just how much fear was in my life. Though I wasn’t afraid to do a lot of things fear was so engrained in my life that it kept me from being who I truly was and doing the things that I was truly meant to do. It looked something like this:
- People pleasing (do you secretly need people’s approval to keep working on your ideas?)
- Being generally stressed about responsibilities (fearful I won’t get things done or things won’t get done, not thinking about a matter & letting our mind run).
- Intense anxiety that is not founded on a particular event or situation (a general state).
- Afraid of failure (trying some things, but not all things, or not trying at all).
- Fear of the future (what will happen if).
- Procrastination (at the root can be fear, we may be truly fearful of what happens if we do this or that thing)
- Acting out of fear and not out of thoughtful planning or thorough decision making.
Fear can paralyze us. We may be doing adventurous things, but fear can distort our thinking and our actions. It can keep us from doing the right things. It can prevent us from being consistent in our actions towards completing goals. Perhaps those who accomplish so many things are simply able to overcome their fear and get things done.
Identify Your Fear
My sassy conference speaker became a good friend of mine and helped me identify ways that I was fearful. I am still overcoming fear as it rears its ugly head in new ways on a consistent basis. Identifying our fears is the first step towards overcoming them.
- Are you procrastinating in certain areas of your life?
- Are you making excuses for why you can’t get things done or try new things?
- Do you hold back on trying ideas because you secretly want others approval?
- Do you hold back talking about what is on your heart and mind with people for fear of how they will react?
- Do you let simple tasks go because you are fearful of the consequences of dealing with them?
- Do you ignore good ideas because you are fearful of all the steps that would have to be taken to do them?
- Are you in a general state of fear over everything, running scared?
Do this to alleviate fear.
It doesn’t matter what your idea is. Perhaps you want to start drawing again after working in a manufacturing plant for 20 + years, perhaps you want to develop an ETSY shop, start quilting, painting, start a side business, or anything new. What you want to do and be is important and there are enough obstacles in life keeping us from accomplishing goals so we don’t want ourselves to be one of them.
(1) Good information can reduce uncertainty.
Get in touch with people who are doing what you want to do. Read their books, blogs, watch their movies, see their plays, attend their book clubs, go to a car show, watch a tv special, attend a life learning college class, go to a quilters group, or visit the local farmer’s market. There are many ways to immerse yourself in the idea that you want to try.
Get good information. The Internet is full of information, but not all of it will be beneficial to you. The first step requires some good research and finding resources that will help you reduce uncertainty. Someone somewhere is doing what you want to do. Find them and connect.
This can be a difficult part and most likely something we aren’t going to get a first. We aren’t good about supporting each others dreams. We rarely take the time to appreciate others ideas and the courage it takes to express them so finding others to be supportive can be difficult, but we should seek out reassurance from where we can get it.
Remember, you ultimately don’t need others approval. What you hope to get is someone who can cheer you along the way.
I have a few people that I can share with, and only one of those people actually asks me how things are going when I start new projects or hobbies. The lack of support can cause us to second guess ourselves, but we can’t let it. Let it teach us how to be better at encouraging others. We have to be settled in our own mind that this is a thing we want and must do. We can build a support network in time to help us move ahead with our goals, but in the beginning it’s up to us.
The reason all these you can do it guru’s exist is because it’s just so dang hard to accomplish anything out of the norm. Once people do they want to help others do the same thing. Life is hard and we get so busy that we need all these calendars, app’s, and tools to help us get anything done. It’s about moving forward.
I have spent the past seven years overcoming fear. I believe it will be a life long battle. I see it rear it’s ugly head in procrastination, inaction, and inconsistency. I spent the morning looking over my blogging history and noticed an inconsistent pattern. I know that much of that is due to being overwhelmed with life and letting the fear of the future drive my actions. When I am able to get my thoughts under control and focus I get work done.
Once we get to work then we have to ensure we don’t let the fear of failure prevent us from trying. What if I do all this work and am not successful? Well not doing the work won’t bring you success either. Its your life that we are talking about. Are you willing to overcome obstacles to achieve success? Good. Now look for fear and overcome it. When you do you will find yourself moving forward in your life.
Our biggest fear shouldn’t be starting something new, but not starting at all. What kind of life do we lead if it is all in our head?