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Overcoming Fear To Achieve Success

If you have a tendency of giving up on your goals, learn how you can use fear to accelerate your momentum instead of sabotaging your success. In this article, we talk through the roles that fear, courage, and confidence play in the change cycle.


What kinds of things do you spend your time doing?

Human nature is to spend our time on things we enjoy, and are relatively good at.

When is the last time you did something that you were not good at? Something that really sucked at first, and terrified you, and pushed you past your limits?

As a recovering perfectionist, I came to the startling realization that I only did things that I was confident I would be good at.

  • I took a job that I knew I would be good at – improving business processes increase efficiency.
  • I participate in sports I know I will be good at – dancing (I’ve danced since I was 8) and mountain biking (I used to bike between towns when I was in school).
  • I stay in my comfort zone, doing things I’ve done for years, reading books that perpetuate my beliefs, and enjoying activities that I cannot fail at.

Life is great, so what’s the problem?

We all have an innate desire for growth which, if ignored, leads to a meaningless and unfulfilled life.

ANA MCRAE

Related post: Building A Meaningful Life

If I am not challenging myself in new ways, I eventually find myself sitting back after a completely relaxing day thinking ‘This was nice but… Is this it? Is this all there is?’

A few of these days in the month are great. And it is important to enjoy the simple things in life and live in the present moment.

Related post: How To Be Happier With Mindfulness

However, my need for growth wasn’t being satisfied because I was too scared to try something I could fail at.

Related post: Are You Working On The Right Goals?

Why?

  • Maybe because I was raised and praised on outcomes and achievements, which tied my self worth to my accomplishments – so anything I fail at makes me a failure.
  • Maybe because somewhere along the line I started giving up on things that were too hard and never pushed through to see what the other side feels like.
  • Or maybe because our brains are hardwired to maintain the status quo and avoid change.

Whatever the reason, a year ago I realized I needed to start pushing my limits in order to feel happiness, and so I stepped into my personal growth journey.

At first, this mostly consisted of reading an endless stream of personal development books, which gave me permission to dream big and take massive action on new goals.

Related post: 5 Personal Development Books To Change Your Life

But then, I moved on to implementing the strategies I was reading about. One of the biggest learnings came to me when I realized that the fear of failure never really goes away.

Successful people achieve their dreams because they harness their fear to fuel their progress.

ANA MCRAE

Procrastinators let fear stop them in their tracks – they push their goals further and further out to the point where they fade away.

Successful people feel the fear and move forward anyway.

Today I want to talk about the change cycle, and how fear plays a pivotal role in our future. If understood, and used correctly, you can use fear to pin point your next move and validate your decision. If misunderstood and avoided, fear will keep you from creating the life you crave to live by second guessing every decision you make.

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It takes courage to accomplish big and small things, not a lack of fear.

ANA MCRAE

Here’s how change looks like for most people who decide to shake up the status quo and make an improvement.

  • We all start to feel a bit of discontent over something. Whether that’s your weight, or your job, or a relationship, you start to feel that little inkling of dissatisfaction. For the most part, we push it down, but while it’s being stuffed down it continues to build.
  • The discontent hits a breaking point. Something happens in life and it pushes us to the brink, and we can’t handle that discontent anymore.
  • We reach a decision. The emotion is still high and we are motivated to make a big change and improve our situation.
  • And then the fun part comes, we suddenly hit a wall of fear. We hadn’t realized what our decision would look like in reality: the consequences, tradeoffs, and effort required to make it happen.
  • Our brain goes into self defense mode, triggering our amnesia. You know exactly what I’m talking about, we purposefully forget why we wanted the change so much. Literally, we cannot summon the same feelings anymore and we tell ourselves, “well it really wasn’t so bad, I’m going to go back to the old way”.
  • We back track. We go back to our old habits, our old relationships, our old patterns. We feel a little bit of remorse, but we stuff it down, and we let it live there until it builds up again and we go through this process all over again.

This is the change cycle.

We all go through it.

Whether it’s deciding to quit your job, or deciding to give up sugar, every change is the same to our brain, because we are programmed to maintain the status quo.

The key to getting out of the change cycle and actually living a life you dream of is to harness your fear and increase your confidence.

As per Dan Sullivan in The 4C’s.

  1. You commit to a crazy goal.
  2. You harness your courage and push past the fear of failure.
  3. You develop increased competency and capability in that area.
  4. You gain a greater sense of confidence.

You then leverage that confidence to commit to an even crazier goal, and the process starts all over again.

This is the loop of continuous improvement.

Take note that you don’t start with confidence. You don’t already have the ability to achieve what you want to achieve. It all starts with the commitment, the deadline, the vision, and it is powered by courage.

So the fear is real; the fear is normal; harnessing the fear is the only way to increase in your confidence and achieve exponential improvement.

When people say they admire leadership, they’re actually saying they value courage, because leaders are those who are willing to go into uncharted territory. We always remember the greatest leaders as people who make commitments and put themselves in a position where they could be seen as complete failures. There is an enormous amount of wasted opportunity in life simply because people want to show only their capability and their confidence. We strive to hide our commitment and courage. But what’s really meaningful and valuable to human beings isn’t the payoff – it’s the process we all go through.

Dan Sullivan

So, if you’ve been second guessing a decision because it doesn’t “feel” right, recognize whether that feeling is really just fear. If it is, you’re likely on exactly the right track and are about to hit a major breakthrough.

Don’t let yourself sabotage your success by giving fear more power than it deserves.

Fear is there to guide you.

ANA MCRAE

Do not rely on the emotion of fear as your sanity check for what to avoid. If you’re scared of something, it is likely EXACTLY the right next step for you to take. So use it to prioritize what needs to happen next.

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When you’re setting your goals, if they don’t scare you, try again.

When you’re working on your goals, feel that fear and know that you are not alone, that the fear is normal, that it means you are doing something right and you will make it through.

And when you do, the exhilaration will power you to start all over again.


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What have you been avoiding because it feels scary? Let me know in the comments below!

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