There comes a time in every fearful dreamer’s life when action is necessary. But what happens when you feel so afraid that you let that fear stop you from taking action? What do you do to move from stuck to actually taking steps?
The next time you feel too afraid to move, try these practices:
Notice what avoidance techniques you’re using.
Hugging your fear is all about observing what you’re doing or not doing when fear pops up. Put on your scientist colored lenses and notice what you’re doing to avoid doing anything. Are you watching lots of TV? Going out every night with friends? Checking out others’ social media pages? Comparing yourself to people out there doing what you want to be doing? Take a look and see what you find, without judgment. Avoidance activities can hide how much fear you may be feeling.
Ask yourself what you’re afraid of.
Sit somewhere quiet where you won’t be disturbed and take out a pen and some paper (or open up a Word doc) and answer this: What am I afraid might happen if I do this thing? Let yourself answer freely, whatever comes to mind first. No editing or over thinking. Just write. It can also be helpful to do the “and then what?” exercise. I can’t take credit for creating it; it’s floated around the personal development field for years. Basically you write down what you’re afraid might happen (“I’m afraid that if I start this business, no one will buy what I’m selling.”). Then you ask yourself “and then what?” (“Then I will go broke.”). Keep asking “and then what?” even after the extreme example I provided. Get to the very last possible outcome of your worst case scenario fears and see how you feel and if you believe what you wrote.
Find your why.
Simon Sinek popularized this method with his book Start With Why. Although I’ve only read articles about the book, I find that asking yourself why you want to take this action or go for this dream can help make the fear less powerful. So ask yourself, “Why do I want to do _______?” and once you have your answer, see if you can find a way to focus on that instead of the fear.
Choose a first step to take.
Uncertainty can cause fear to grow. My guess is that when you are stuck in fear and unable to take a first step you are either thinking about the whole project you’d like to undertake or your first step is really multiple steps that when considered together feel overwhelming. Break down what you want to do in very small steps, so small that when you look at the first step, it feels silly. It’s not the size of the step that matters; it’s the consistency with which you take them. So choose a first step, any step and make sure it’s small enough that even if you feel some fear about taking it, you know in your heart that you can do it. And if you need some inspiration, Stefani Harris of The Creative Solutions Project shares some baby steps she took through fear here.
Take that first step.
Just as fear thrives on uncertainty, it also thrives on inaction. The longer you don’t take a step, fear whispers louder and louder making it harder and harder to take the step (not impossible hard, but definitely harder). Here are a few ways to take the first step:
- Hold your nose and jump. Have you ever been to a pool or body of water that was very cold? You dip your toe in and wonder how you’ll ever get to enjoy swimming. The solution often given is to just jump in. The same works for a fearful step. Find a way to jump in. Talk to yourself encouragingly. Repeat a mantra. Distract yourself. Just find a way to take a step so quickly that it doesn’t matter what fearful thoughts you are having.
- Tell someone else to hold you accountable. Sometimes just knowing that someone else knows that you are planning on taking this step and will ask you if you did it can help give you a boost to take the step. If you don’t have anyone like that in your life, I’ll be that person. Just send me a note here.
- Give yourself a reward. Dangle a big, healthy carrot in front of you that can only be enjoyed after taking your first step.
The secret is that confidence and courage grow only when you take a step and not before. You must step out to build your confidence and courage muscles.
So take that step. Move from inaction to action. I know you can do it, learn to believe in yourself. Just do your best, make the step small and throw out any and all self-judgment. How about starting today? Share what step you’ve taken or want to take in the comments below and please share this on your Facebook or Twitter or other social media pages if you think your friends could benefit from it.
Until next time,
If you liked this post, you might also like:
5 Ways to Make Your Fear Worse & How to Turn it Around
Goal Setting and the Fear of Success
5 Easy Ways to Make Fear Less Scary and Take Steps towards Your Dreams