“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” - Henry David Thoreau.
Is fear holding you back from the success you desire?
Do you have a business dream that you've been thinking about but haven't done anything to move it forward?
When people tell me that they want to achieve a business goal like start a blog, or launch an online course, or raise their prices, or write a book, I ask them, "Why haven't you done it yet?"
And often they give me an answer such as:
- I'm not good at tech stuff
- I don't have enough time
- My ideas aren't good enough
- It's too competitive in my industry
- I don't have the skills
- I don't know enough
- And so on and so on and so on...
You keep telling yourself these excuses and keep procrastinating taking steps towards actually achieving your business dreams, but not taking action to get what you want.
Or, maybe you keep yourself busy researching, reading blog post after blog post, buying courses you don't complete, wasting time on social media. You feel like you are moving forward, but you aren't actually focused on any activities that will generate revenue in your business.
Or, perhaps, you choose distractions like Netflix binges, organizing your office, answering emails, obsessing about the details, or going to make yourself another snack.
You know what I'm talking about.
And, yeah, you know that you are standing in your own way, but you can't stop yourself. Your fear is holding you back. And your fear justifies all of these excuses. Because if you make excuses and you stay busy doing stuff that's not productive (like watching "If it Fits, I Sits" videos on You Tube).
So, let's dig into this a bit deeper.
Because we both know the real reason that it's better to stay busy and let your fears win, right?
Because if we don't really, really go for it, then we can't fail?
(Of course we can never achieve our BIG DREAMS either).
We all struggle with fear. And we all make excuses that prevent us from realizing the business success that we want.
Why exactly is that?
Why are we scared of the things we want the most?
Fear of something potentially bad happening is one of the things that makes us human. Animals fear something that is an immediate danger. But, only humans fear something that might happen, but isn't happening right now.
And, some might say, this fear keeps us safe. It stops us from doing something stupid.
In general, it's a healthy emotion - fear keeps us from jumping out of a moving car or trying to grab a hot log from the fire.
But, fear can also hold us back from getting what we want. It can be incredibly limiting, and sometimes downright debilitating.
Because 99.9% of our imagined fears never come true.
All they do is keep us from moving forward.
That's why - if we have big goals - that we have to understand fear so that we can get past our fears and self-doubt so we can do the things we really want to do.
What do we really fear?
Fears that people commonly mention when asked the question, "What's holding you back?" include:
- Fear of failure
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of not being good enough
- Fear of loss (of what you have right now)
- Fear of the unknown/self-doubt
- Fear of change
- Fear of success
And these fear can insidiously weave themselves into our decision making. Fear can dictate our actions (or - in most cases - lack of action).
- I'd love to write a book, but what if people hate it? Maybe I should read some more books about writing before I start to write.
- Wow, I really want to launch an online course, but I'm not very tech-savvy and I don't have enough good ideas. What if I can't do it right?
- I'd love to start giving live workshops, but what if I look stupid? What if I'm really bad on stage?
- I think I should raise my prices, but what if I lose customers? Look at so-and-so: she/he only charges $xxx/hour. I can't go higher than that becomes no one will pay it.
- I can't make my new blog live until I have at least of three months of the "right" articles. I read somewhere that it's important, so I'm working on that and can't launch yet!
Excuses are just fear in disguise
By looking at the examples above, do you see how your fears transform into worries?
In turn, these worries keep you stuck and they turn into excuses.
You identify a goal such as launching a course or giving a TED talk, but then you get completely stuck by obsessing about details, endless researching, rewriting things over and over, and so on.
You feel a bit better because you believe you are getting prepared and moving toward your goals. And that when you figure out every last detail, you'll move forward on your Big Goal.
Time for a reality check and some honest self examination
You are avoiding real action because you are scared.
And look I get it.
No matter how much success I realize, I struggle with the fear of not being good enough or not knowing enough or not being like "so-and-so."
I feel it in the pit of my stomach and it sometimes feels like a mythical monster that I have to wrestle with physically to keep it under control.
And it can cause me to procrastinate and to go down some information "rabbit hole" that has nothing to do with what I really want to achieve.
But here is my epiphany and how I fight my fear and self doubt.
I know that the only thing that will help me reach my goal is addressing my fears and my excuses head on, putting them to rest by reframing them, and then taking action in spite of the fear.
The 3 steps to overcoming your fears and moving forward
Here's my 3-step process for overcoming fears (and excuses) and moving forward to achieve the business success you desire.
1) Shine the light on your fears and write them down.
Here is a process for acknowledging your fears. Break them down by answering the following in your journal or notebook
- First, write down what you want to accomplish (Ex: Write book)
- Next, write down exactly what scares you about this goal (Ex: I'm scared no one will like it, I'll get bad reviews, I won't make any money, etc.).
- Vividly describe each one of these fears in detail. (Ex: This will mean my mother was right when I told her about my big dream of being an author and she said I'll never make it.)
- What excuses/avoidance tactics are you using to hold you back? (Ex: I keep finding other things to do besides sitting down to begin my book outline.)
- Next, write down as many answers as you can think of to the question:
What are the worst possible things that can happen if I fail? (Ex: I'll have to get a job)
And then rate each consequence you list on a scale of zero (no affect on your life at all) to 10 (would have a long-lasting, negative affect on you).
- Go through each point you listed above and imagine the scenarios that you just wrote down. Ask yourself, if this outcome happened, what could I do to repair the damage and get things swinging back in a positive direction?
(Ex: I'll get a job and start on a new book that I'll work on in the evenings)
- Then, write down all of the consequences of not ever trying to reach your goal. (Ex: If I don't write my book, I'll have to keep working at a job I hate, I'll never get my message out into the world, I'll never know that I CAN do it.)
Remember, regrets are often worse than fears.
- Finally, write down every positive thing that could happen if you do complete your goal. Dream big, here. (Ex: I could become a best-selling author, I could get speaking gigs, I could quit my job to write full time, etc.).
2) Reframe your fears and write your daily affirmations
Each morning - before you open your emails or look at the Internet - write down your long-term goals in a dedicated notebook. Include all of your desired outcomes related to your specific accomplishment.
These affirmations will keep you focused on your big dream, your WHY, and your destination. The positive things that you listed in the last step above will be a great foundation.
They should be written as "I am..." statements. This means that you write them as if they are already happening to you. Create them as your future self.
So continuing with my example above related to writing a book, I might list affirmations that look something like this:
- I am a bestselling author.
- I have dozens of glowing 5-star reviews on Amazon.
- I am a productive writer and words come to me easily.
- I write something each and every day.
- I am a confident writer and being intensely creative is my natural state.
- I make my full-time income from my writing.
- And so on.
Each morning, you should rewrite these, as well as any additional affirmations that come to you. Hang a copy up next to your workspace so that you can see them throughout the day.
When you start off my day in this way, it will keep you focused on the exact activities that will get me to accomplish your goal.
By writing your "I am..." statements before you do anything else, you are a lot less likely to get stuck in a fear mode. Instead, you will feel brave and take on the specific activities that will allow you to achieve your future desired state.
If you start feeling fear during the day, step away from your desk temporarily and read your affirmations aloud.
As you write the statements down, say them to yourself inside your head.
Then reread each one aloud and take a moment to visualize each affirmation and feel the emotions that each future outcome would bring to you.
3) Take consistent action in spite of the fear
Here's a little secret for you.
All entrepreneurs face fear. Especially when they are stepping out into new territory and doing something they've never done before.
But what's different about the people who build thriving, successful businesses and live their big dreams is that they:
- take bold, consistent action in spite of the fear
- trade short-term discomfort for long-term success
- feel the fear and walk into it
- have processes (like the one I shared above) to move them beyond their fear
- know that if they do fail at something they try, they'll learn from it and do it over but better.
- stop comparing themselves to others
- don't focus on excuses, but work to find solutions
- avoid being busy and focus on productivity
- celebrate their wins, even if they are small
- know that action builds confidence and expertise
- set a plan and then break it down into small actionable steps
- surround themselves with other people willing to go for their dreams
And you can do these things too.
But it doesn't have to start with anything huge.
Start moving toward your business success today
The very first thing you can do is to make the bold decision that you will not let fear and excuses hold you back anymore. This one decision can ensure your future success.
Everything that you want in life is past your comfort zone. Don’t let fear and worries and excuses be the reason you don't realize the business of your dreams.
Today, take the first step. Right now. Take one tiny action that will bring you closer to your goal.
Write the blog post. Buy the domain, Start your Facebook group. Set up your Twitter handle. Film your first video. Pitch that guest post. Outline that book.
Take one key step that moves you in the direction of your big accomplishment.
Life is short and the clock is ticking. So why spend your days doing something mediocre? It’s time to walk into your fears and go for it.
Friend, you got this!
What action will you take today? Leave a comment and let me know!