As you know the title of this entry ends with “. . . and do it anyway.” Fear is the one thing that keeps most of us from being all we can be. If we weren’t afraid we wouldn’t procrastinate, take the easy way out, and settle for less than the best.
I have many of the same fears that you do (plus probably a few you never knew about). For example, I fear clowns (really), I’m afraid of failing and letting others down, and I worry about having enough money (and quality time) to provide a good life for my family.
In addition to all the normal fears (spiders, heights, enclosed spaces, heights, death) I have a fear that trumps everything else—I am deathly afraid of being average. I’ve always been driven to be different, better, and special. I know, a psychologist would have a field day with this one, but the truth is it drives me to do whatever I have to avoid being “one of the crowd” and it’s pushed me past what many thought was possible.
One of my former teachers said to me recently, “Never has someone done so much, with so little.” I didn’t take offense, because it’s true. Here is how I have dealt with fear and pushed past it to pursue my passions and achieve professional (and personal) success. These are my mantras and the antidote to my fears and phobias.
It’s only their opinion.
As a creative person we open ourselves up to the critics—and everyone is a critic. I’ve had almost all rave reviews but there are always a couple of people who want to post negative comments and put us down. To not let the fear of “What will they think?” stop me from putting things out there I always tell myself, it’s only their opinion. It’s subjective, it could be they are jealous, and quite possibly (or probably) they are wrong.
Get your ducks in a row first.
Sometimes it feels like procrastination when we put off the hardest part of a project. Getting all the supplies needed, doing Google searches on the subject, and busying ourselves with the little things may be what we need to do. When we feel like we have everything we need to start we eliminate the “I’m not ready” excuse. Also, while we tackle the easy stuff our subconscious brain takes on the tough stuff. They say once you’ve begun you’re halfway done. How and where you start is as important as starting.
Act and react.
The “Just Do It” slogan was so powerful because it’s true. Action overcome fear. If we just start and not worry about the outcome and what people will think, we will not be as afraid. When writing, trying to edit as you go never works. The first draft is just that, a first pass at something and it’s okay to be a little sloppy. It’s okay to be less than perfect (at first) and fix it when we go back and polish it up. Giving ourselves permission to to suck is such a weight off our minds we can let go and GO! Act and react.
There is usually a silver lining.
Things always have a way of working out for the best—eventually. If we believe that no matter what happens we will be okay (and maybe even better) we shouldn’t be afraid to go for it—and fail if that means we pushed ourselves past our comfort zone and out of our league. How many times have you feared the worst and when it happened it was a unexpected benefit—with the passing of time. If we truly believe that no matter what things happen for a reason it means there is nothing to be afraid of. No matter what happens it’s all a learning opportunity and what doesn’t kill us makes us better.
Refuse to lose.
Some of us are built to last. What I mean by that is we may get knocked down (and knocked around) but we always get back up and go after it again—better for the experience of not making it the first (or second, or third) time. When we believe we can withstand the worst that will be thrown our way and work through it, what do we have to worry about. There are so many stories of people (like us) who failed time and time again but made it not because they were the best or most talented but simply because they never gave up. For me, I am more afraid of how it would feel to quit (the guilt and regret) than not giving it my all. The only way to fail is to fail to try (again and again if that’s what it takes.) If we try our best and fail, at least we tried our best.
If the first step is so simple we can’t miss, then that is the place to start because when we do enough of the small things the big things right (and right now) the big stuff takes care of itself. Don’t look up, don’t look ahead, just focus on putting one foot in front of the other and getting things done and there isn’t any fear of the future because you are in the present. (Most fears are based on what might happen next, not what you are doing now.)
Surround yourself with success.
“Surround yourself with success” has many meanings. Putting reminders of our past accomplishments where we can see them helps us remember we have faced fears and challenges before and overcome. If we’ve done it once we can do it again. Surrounding ourselves with successful and positive people shows us those who have done extraordinary things are really just ordinary people who pushed past their fears to make things happen when others were too nervous, cautious, and apprehensive. (It may also help to team up with a partner to push us past what we thing we can do.)