Few would argue against the statement that fear sits at the top of the list of self-limiting thoughts that keeps us from excelling into our future dreams and endeavors.
Whether it is a critical business decision, a career choice, a relationship issue, or a health concern. No matter the Pillar of Life that is at stake, self-limiting fear and worry breed resistance to change that can quickly immobilize us.
There is a ton of information out there regarding the topic of fear, but I have a specific focus for this article that I wanted to explore and get feedback on.
There are many ways to deal with the emotion of fear, the benefits of mindfulness meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, or listening to your favorite music are well documented.
And if you read the bible, you will find hundreds of comforting verses saying “don’t fear” with supporting references as to why we aren’t supposed to fear and don’t need to fear.
So What Is Really Going On
I find breaking down the internal dialogue is a huge help in not only bringing emotions like fear & worry into a proper perspective but often we can leverage our emotions for greater growth and success.
I don’t know about you, but my worry sentences always seem to start with “what if….”
Worry, by its very nature, is ruminating on future based worse case scenarios.
- What if I can’t pay my bills…
- What if I don’t get a new job…
- What if I never get married and die alone…
- What if my new entrepreneur endeavor fails…
- What if I get on stage at a speaking engagement and freeze up…
- What if…. (insert your dark vision of a bleak future here)
Many suggest that getting out of the “what if” zone is the solution. We are told to stay rooted in the present, do what you can do today and stop “worrying” about a future that hasn’t happened yet.
[to read more on this topic see when weakness is not weakness)
There is value to that, but on some level, I also vehemently disagree…
When I took the Clifton Strengthsfinder assessment, I was amazed to discover that Strategic Thinking was my #2 trait or skill set.
That new self-awareness changed my life.
I discovered that in my IT Career, I had used “what if” extensively for decades and hit home runs on massive projects by being very skilled in “risk assessment.”
Who knew??? What I thought was my most significant weakness turned out to be one of my greatest strengths!!!
What I needed to do next was figure out why this excellent career tool was so harmful in the other areas of my life.
To do that I spent a month researching that very question. Through meditation and journaling, I was able to capture and process the internal dialogue when I would find myself trapped in a state of worry, and a pattern emerged.
What I discovered is that in business, I was always forced to make a decision and take action. I had deadlines and employers with expectations and coworkers awaiting direction. I didn’t have the luxury of analysis paralysis.
But when making decisions big or small in my personal life, I would be plagued by indecision and inaction. Fear of missing out or fear of failure seemed to always take center stage.
I would ask, “what if…”
… the woman I’m dating isn’t the right one, and we end up hurting each other or wasting months or years in a go-nowhere relationship.
… my bold, high-risk move to leave my career to start up a coaching business fails
… what if my business takes off, but my chronic fatigue syndrome never gets better, and I stay too sick to keep up with success and growth.
I realized my ‘what if’ skillset had been aberrated into a debilitating excuse factory which caused hesitation and even drove me to give up and quit trying in many cases. It didn’t matter if it was a fear of failure or a fear of success.
In my career, I didn’t have the luxury of quitting out of insecurity (which is the source of much fear and worry), so I would do whatever it took to keep moving.
Failure simply wasn’t part of my mindset.
I also realized that in my career, I always had a clear vision of what success looked like at each stage. The rollout of sophisticated phone systems, multiple migrations of the companies accounting and project management software infrastructure, the opening of a new remote office in another state or changing network infrastructure carriers.
Never did I ask, “what if I can’t do it,” it was always “how am I going to do this.”
My constant vision was seeing each stage being completed successfully and using “what if” to try and minimize failure points and cost overruns. It was never used to kill a project, or even delay it. It just kept me sharp, focused, I always remained determined to overcome.
An even bigger realization was that in every project, there were critical junctions where I had to make irreversible decisions. I had to proceed on faith, on instinct, on whatever it was in my gut that says, “this is the best decision I can make with what I know right now.”
When I put these new awarenesses together, I discovered an empowering formula which now carries me beyond my comfort zone across all the pillars of my life.
- Start with a compelling vision of what success looks like
- Leverage my new best friend “what if” to identify higher success options and stop magnifying paralyzing images of failure
- MAKE DECISIONS AND TAKE ACTION; MOMENTUM IS EVERYTHING.
- Be prepared to move forward without a success guarantee throughout the entire process; taking risks and stepping into the unknown is unavoidable.
- Trust my best instincts and do what I can do and trust God to guide me through everything else that I can’t control or predict today.
- Choose to fall in love with the process by staying true to my values and vision and press forward; BE INTENTIONAL
We only fear where we are going if we are sitting in the backseat of our life and letting circumstances drive us to unknown or undesired places.
Once you get in the driver’s seat of your own life, you know where you are going, and you then become more focused on where you are and what you need to do next.
If a road is closed, you will find a route around it; you get low on gas, you will find a place to fill the tank; not reaching your destination is not an option.
What would it look like to treat every pillar of your life that way?
Fear and worry have no fuel to flourish in a mind that is filled with a compelling vision and an unwavering commitment to stay the course at any cost.
We must always remind ourselves that we are not waiting for our lives to change, our life is patiently waiting for us to adapt and grow.
Let’s not make our best life wait another day!
Add your voice to the conversation; what awarenesses or tools help you overcome fear and worry?
My desire for LMP (The Life Mastery Project) is to create a fully-engaged community of overcomers who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other
Let’s Do This!
Certified Life Coach & NLP Practitioner
Founder of Nikaos Strategic Coaching
Developer of The Life Mastery Project