Because the fear’s gonna come. It always does.
Fear comes in lots of packages. We know its names—fear of failure, fear of success, fear of change in whatever that looks like. The lists are endless, but always come back to these.
Psychologists disagree on exactly which plagues most folks, but an intriguing Psychology Today post says that fear of failure is a misnomer. Anyone “in the game” has failed enough when striving for a goal to be familiar with that beast. And that fear when related to a goal boils down to fear of success. In essence, moving from one comfort zone to the next.
I can see that, can’t you? Because major change, where we live, well, hm, can I have a piece of chocolate first?
But whomever ends up being right on this debate (which will rage on for the next millennia), what really matters is how to get beyond it in order to keep reaching for the stars.
My failsafe plan for slaying fear:
- Identify the Issues. Write a list of those things you just don’t want to do—for whatever reason. You know, those things you’ve been putting off—for whatever reason. No need to prioritize the list, just write it. You might not think fear is involved, but there’s something underlying the procrastination. And just about ten times out of ten, that thing is a fear.
- Now, look at that list. No obsessing, just read over each item. We aren’t looking to dig out what fear is here, or why you have it, and for God ‘sakes, no beating yourself up. This is just a list—just words on paper. Just get familiar with each one, giving it a name.
- Identify Similar Tasks. Do you have a lot in one area? Say for example you want to get more fit. But you just can’t seem to call a gym or personal trainer, etc. How many pieces play into this? What sort of exercise do you think you can sustain? Do you need special clothing? Does the gym need to be close to your home? Does a local one have fitness trainers for hire? Is your diet involved? Yikes! The simple idea of getting more fit just turned into a quagmire of decisions.
But group all of these together.
- Do one thing on the list. Just one thing. Each day. I know a lot of folks will say tackle the hardest one first. And that’s a great thing to do, in other areas of your life. But the funny thing about this fear thing is that sometimes what seems most difficult has a tiny fear attached (such as actually calling the gym), and a little one has a huge fear attached (such as what will I look like in spandex?).
The point of this exercise is to just do one thing. I can promise that whatever fear was lying under the procrastination about this one thing will surge to the surface! And again, that’s not the point.
The point is doing that one thing.
And a funny thing happens here as well: Once you do that one thing, the monster you feared, although present and accountable, turns out to be of the wee flying-insect kind rather than the snarling Tyrannosaurus Rex kind.
And you feel good about yourself. Amazing—you did that thing!
Tomorrow, it’ll be a hair easier to do the next one. Maybe not noticeable at first, but just a tinsy bit. And the next day, a tinsy bit more. Until at some point, you’ll have flown through all those things you’ve been putting off, faced the fears that went with them, and are now well on your way to your goal.
Fear is normal. How you deal with it is the only thing that counts.
I love Buddhist author Pema Chodron’s take on this pesky emotion: “Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.”
That always sustains me, as one of my goals is to continue moving closer to the truth. Doing so gives me courage, and courage in turn stands straight up to fear.
How do you quash your fears?