When clients first come to me, their fear is palpable. Most tell me that they need (even desperately) something “more” for their life (more purpose and passion, to be exact) and that they know changes must be made if they’re ever going to be happy and fulfilled.
And yet many have trouble doing anything about it (which saddens me). They feel unfulfilled, unhappy, and exhausted, yet allow fear to get in their way of making any changes to their life. And so nothing changes for them.
The biggest difference between those who end up working with me and those who don’t is this: a willingness to face their fears. Because you can move beyond and calm your fears.
Today begins a two-part series about pushing beyond your fears and learning to go big – and to go after your dreams. So that you don’t end up regretting your life at the end of it.
First up: how to start thinking differently about fear and risk (what is and what isn’t risky) and why it’s so important to stay on top of this (because fear can take down anyone at any time – as you’ll see below).
Table of Contents
The Importance of Pushing Past Your Fears (and How to Rethink Risk)
There’s something that happens to you when you think you may die. Your life flashes before you and you realize that you have regrets. And those regrets have little to do with what you’ve tried to achieve – they’re all about those things you didn’t have the guts to do.
That is precisely what happened to me when I had cancer. During my almost year-long treatment period, I had a lot of time to think. After logging my regrets, I began to realize that almost all of them resulted from one thing (something that stops many of us from chasing after our dreams).
What stopped me? Fear.
I was afraid of how my life could change (and what that would mean), of the unknown, of failure, and what others would think. And I was afraid of taking a risk – thinking that not changing anything was risk-averse.
But I quickly realized that I hadn’t considered my emotional and spiritual well-being. And that doing nothing was a risk to my mental welfare and happiness.
That’s when I promised myself that I would no longer play small. I would go big and chase after my dreams (regardless of my fears). And I also started to discover that I also feared who I would be (and the regrets I knew I’d eventually have) should I not change anything.
Life Lessons Sometimes Get Lost (But Can be Found Again)
Now, I know that you likely think I took a big risk when leaving my legal career behind (because, of course, I did). But I’ve still been playing small.
Because, although I believed that I wasn’t allowing fear to stop me from going after my dreams and doing what I know I need and want for myself and my business, I was wrong. As I reviewed my quarterly progress on my goals these past 2 weeks, I made a discovery. I’ve allowed fear to shape many of my decisions – and to hold me back.
You’d think that I wouldn’t let that happen, given the big lesson I thought I learned while battling cancer. But unfortunately I’m human, and sometimes let fear to get in my way (without even knowing it).
Which is why the quarterly goal review process I’ve previously written about is so crucial. Going through this process helps you to identify when you’re holding yourself back (and hence, when fear is getting in the way of going all-in on something).
For example, I recently went through this process and uncovered that I’d been holding back from offering something I feel strongly can help people within my audience. All because I feared what they’d think if I ‘sold’ to them (and what former colleagues might think of me if I failed).
Being Fearless Isn’t Living Without Fear (It’s Doing Regardless of Fear)
I’ve decided to make a choice for myself. I have nothing to be ashamed of (because fear is real and normal) – unless I do nothing about it now that I know.
And I can act even while being scared. That’s what courage is, isn’t it? Acting despite the fear. I don’t believe that being 100% without fear is possible. Fear will always be there. But it is possible to take the next step.
And that’s what I mean when I talk about being fearless: pulling courage from within (I promise it’s in there) and taking the next step even though you’re scared to death.
One thing I learned from my cancer journey is that I’ll regret not going after my dreams more than I’ll regret making some wrong turns while going after them. Because I fear not trying more than I fear doing something new (or making mistakes along the way). I just need to remind myself of this from time to time.
What I want most from my life is to live a life that feels inspired, serves people to the best of my ability, and shows my boys how to live a life that’s rewarding and fun. And I want my boys to know that success is about doing – not playing small and hoping for the best. Because playing small means you’re giving away your power and letting others make choices for you.
And who wants to live like that?
It’s Your Turn to Choose
And now it’s time to apply this lesson to yourself. I’m not baring my soul (and embarrassing secrets) to you for nothing.
So, what have you found when going through your quarterly goal review process? Maybe you’ve found (like me) that you’ve been holding back because of fear. Or maybe you’ve discovered that there are changes you know you want and need to make to your life and/or within your career that aren’t yet goals (but could be).
The question is, what do you want to do about what you’ve found?
Identify exactly where you could be going bigger and then ask yourself the following questions:
- What’s the best thing that could happen if you chose to go BIG (and stop playing small)?
- What’s the worst thing that could happen if you go BIG and it doesn’t work out as planned? I’m willing to bet this isn’t so bad.
- What regrets will you have if you keep playing small and don’t make the changes you’ve identified?
- If you think you’ll go BIG later, what makes you think you’ll be able to (since you’re unable to now)?
Once you go through these questions, choose. Will you continue to play small or are you ready to take the leap, step into your courage, and go big (and stop letting fear get in your way)? It’s your choice (so you’d better make it).
And should you choose to go big, I ask that you let me know. Either in the comments below or via email, tell me: (1) where you’ve been playing small (and why), and (2) what you’re committing to do about it right now (be specific about the first step that you’re committing to take). Telling me will keep you accountable and make it more likely that you’ll do it.
It’s time to make it real and get started. Step into your courage, move past your fears, and start LIVING your life.
In my next article, we’ll go through how to use a process designed to help you move beyond any fears that you find especially difficult to get past (and we’ll specifically focus on fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of what others will think, and fear of success).
Until next time…
P.S. If fear sometimes gets in your way, go read about 5 Effective Tools to Stop Living in Fear and Worry.