When I was working with my coach, how to overcome fear was a common topic of discussion.
My procrastination and reluctance to submit work when I first started writing was all based on fear.
Overcoming fear (whether it be a fear of failure, fear of not being good enough or even a fear of success) is often an ongoing personal quest.
It’s not like you do something that scares you and hey presto you never feel any sort of fear again. Fear will simply raise its ugly head over and over again waiting for you to take on the challenge of conquering it.
On one particular occasion, I had a specific task to complete. In reality it was quite simple but in my mind, I had built it up to be a much bigger, scarier beast than it actually was. The task involved submitting my work out for feedback. So what did I do……I procrastinated. I put the task off. I worried about it for a while. I placed it on my to do list every week (for more weeks than I care to admit to).
I couldn’t get my head around why I was so afraid of submitting this particular piece of work. Fear had skewed my sense of reality. At the time, I was already submitting pitches to editors. In essence, I was already putting myself out there, facing my fear of rejection head on so why should a similar task bother me so much?
Finally I realized I had put it off long enough. Thankfully through coaching the one thing I have learned is that ultimately my fear of NOT doing something overrides the fear of not trying at all. Frustration with myself in the end lead me to taking the step.
So what happened after I finally submitted the work? Did the sky fall? Were my fears realized? Absolutely not. Quite the opposite actually. Everything worked out fine. I submitted the work, got some very positive feedback and was happy with the result. I couldn’t help but think – what was all that worrying and internal conflict about?
Can you relate to this scenario?
Here are my tips on overcoming fear, bearing in mind that I am still a major work in progress myself!
Accept that it’s fear
We tend to play games with ourselves when we are trying to avoid something that scares us. We tell ourselves we are too tired, too old, too young or that now is not the right time.
We tell ourselves – I’ll just watch a bit of television then I’m sure I’ll feel like doing my big scary task (just for the record that never happens).
We might prefer to label ourselves lazy before admitting we’re scared out of my wits. We simply don’t want to admit to ourselves we are frightened.
Work out what scares you
Some people do up a ‘what if ‘ list. They analysis all of the variables of what might happen.
Others plan out the worst case scenario and come up with measures to have in place to counteract each one, just in case.
I found that saying my fears out loud to my coach was the best way of dealing with them. Quite frankly when you say your fears out loud to another person, sometimes you realize how irrational and silly most of them sound.
Do your homework
Fear can often be associated with taking risks. You can help lessen or eliminate the fear of taking a risk if you do your homework/research.
If you are buying a business, house or investing large chunks of money, by all means do your homework. Know what the risks are and have a risk management strategy in place.
Do the damn thing!
It always makes me smile when I read articles about fear. In the end the advice always funnels down to the same simple point.
Just do it.
Feel the fear and do it anything. Stop procrastinating and get the job done.
Ultimately that’s it in a nutshell, no matter how much we want to sugarcoat it. If you want to move forward, to grow – you need to take action.
Make sure you do a good job. Don’t let your initial fear affect the quality of your work
Try to shorten the process
Try to make this whole process as short as possible so that you are not wasting valuable time.
I used to think that being successful in business (and life) meant that you no longer struggled with fear. I now understand that’s not true. Successful people still have occasions where fear washes over them.
The key is they make decisions, take the leap and move through their fear quickly. The more you shorten the process the easier it will get.
Give yourself a pat on the back
You have completed your task successfully. Excellent! Give yourself a reward in line with what you have accomplished.
Repeat many times over
As mentioned earlier, fear is not a conquer it once and never feel it again type of deal.
The good news is the more experience and confidence (not to mention determination) you get the better you get at conquering your fear.
Is there a fear you need to overcome this week that is holding you back? Is there one project you need to tackle to get you where you need to be?
If so, what are you waiting for – hop to it!
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