7 Ways to Take Action In the Face of Fear
“A life lived in fear is a life half lived.” - It’s one of my favorite quotes from the movie Strictly Ballroom, and for me, it really hits home how much impact fear can have on our lives if we let it take control.
Let’s be honest - Fear sucks. But it’s a very real thing all of us deal with at some point on our personal development journey. The good news is that we all experience fear, so you’re not alone. The downside comes when we allow fear to keep us from pursuing our purpose and when we give in to fear, it can bring our mission to an immediate brake-slamming, tire screeching halt.
So how do you balance reasonable caution with the risks that come from making the big changes needed to level up to your best life?
Even when it feels like fear is your constant companion, there are ways to keep moving forward. Start by using the tips below to keep fear from standing between you and your dream goals.
7 Tips to Tackle Fear
- Make Friends with Your Fear: Awareness is the biggest part of the battle. Become aware of what it is you fear. Then go deeper. You’ll usually find that you have a surface fear, and that there’s a ‘sub-fear’ hiding underneath the surface. For example, your surface fear is that you are afraid of failing in your new business. Beneath the surface, you may fear letting down your family, disappointing your customers, or feeling the personal humiliation of failure. Get to the root of the fear, understand it, and make friends with it. Allow yourself to accept the fear for what it is. This won’t make your fear totally go away, so get comfortable with its presence, acknowledge it and allow yourself to work alongside of it. This allows you to take the next step.
- Decide on the Worst Case and Have a Plan: Once you know what lies at the root of your fears, step back and objectively look at the situation. What’s the worst that can happen? If you’re too close to the situation, bring in a friend or family member to help give you some perspective. You can brainstorm the worst case. From there, create a triage plan to deal with your worst-case scenario. Knowing you have a safety net in the form of an action plan can help alleviate some of the anxiety that naturally comes from doing something new and unknown.
- Get Comfortable with 80%: Waiting until you have 100% of the information you need to get started can stall your next big idea before it even gets off the ground. It also provides a great excuse to delay getting started. Some of the biggest businesses in the world, like Amazon and Tesla don’t wait until they have 100% of the information they need to start. In fact Jeff Bezos said in a recent article that he recommends moving forward once you have 70% of the information needed to start. If some of the biggest business leaders out there aren’t waiting on 100% information, neither should you. The whole point of doing something new, bold and different is to launch your big idea or next chapter, collect feedback and adjust along the way. Be flexible and you’ll learn to improvise and grow as you go.
- Take it a Step at a Time: You don’t have to tackle a big dream in one giant leap. Instead, take small steps forward. Choose one thing you can do every day to move a little closer to the prize. Celebrate and internalize your daily progress and when you have a setback, realize it’s a totally normal part of the journey. We all stumble along the path. How many times you fall is irrelevant, what matters is how often you get back up. If you’re still standing, you’re winning.
- Be Mindful of Negative Self-Talk: We are often our own worst enemies. Negative self-talk and replaying old stories are two ways to stop momentum cold. When you catch yourself playing self-defeating messages in your head, it’s time to pause and pivot. Step back and tell yourself that the old message doesn’t apply anymore. Replace it with a new, self-affirming message. Instead of saying “I'm too scared to do this,” shift to “I’m going to learn how to do this today.” Combat negative self-talk with positive affirmations that reinforce your new journey and speak them out loud daily.
- Ask for Help: There’s no downside to asking for help. Maybe you need to bounce an idea off a friend, or you have an acquaintance who has a skill you want to learn. Reach out and ask for the help you need. Always be open to helping others where you can as well. By reaching out, you’re creating a two-way network of development and growth that benefits not only you, but your community of friends, family and acquaintances.
- Be Present: So much worry and fear are future facing. They are about things that “might” happen. When you put your energy into a future that hasn’t yet come, you’re neglecting the present moment in which you could already be creating a solution to keep that potential fear from manifesting. Be aware of what you fear, but don’t live there. Stay in the present moment and focus on the task at hand to keep advancing your goals forward.
Wrapping it Up:
Fear is a powerful emotion that can shake us to the core of our being, if we let it. The good news is that even when you can’t totally eliminate fear there are ways to move forward in the face of it.
Start using the tips above to move out of your comfort zone and begin getting your closer to your dream goal.
Remember, “you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” Don’t let fear keep you from writing your next chapter.
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