(This is article contains an excerpt from the book Life by Intentions by Robert Louis Sims)
If you're serious about achieving your goals and dreams, at one point you must find a way to overcome fear. Fear is a natural and necessary emotion that helps protect us from possible danger. However, when fear becomes excessive or irrational, it can hold us back from living our best lives and pursuing our dreams.
In this blog, we'll be discussing the three most common fears that prevent people from achieving their goals and living up to their potential. We'll also explore practical strategies and insights for overcoming these fears. So, if you're struggling to overcome fear, this article is for you. Let's dive in and learn how to conquer our fears and live with courage and confidence!
The 3 Basic Fears and How to Overcome Them
Our fears come at us from many directions and can stop us before we ever take action. I believe three main fears keep you from living the life you have imagined.
1. The fear of disapproval.
I know many students who choose a particular career path only because they fear their parents or friends might disapprove of the career they wish to pursue. Choose it anyway. Those who love you may give you a hard time about it, but usually, they are only envious of your courage to move in the direction of your choosing. Once they see your passion for what you are doing, 99% of the time, they will support you.
I believe one of the gifts my wife and I have given each other over the years is support for one another's passions. I know Shelley has undoubtedly supported me through the years.
In college, I probably have the record for the most major changes in college. I declared so many different ones that there was a running joke among my friends. "What's your major this week, Sims?" Knowing I was the only one living my life, I would kindly laugh and go on my way. Because of Shelley's support, I didn't allow fear to control my choices. Instead, I felt free to experiment with different classes and discover what I loved learning and doing.
The truth about approval is that we always gain more of it when we are living up to our own personal standards. Ask yourself, "What is the worst thing that could happen if I do this, and can I handle it if it does?" If your answer to the second half of the question is "Yes" then do it. What do you have to lose? After all, if you are pursuing your real passion and purpose, you have more to lose by failing to act and everything to gain if you do.
2. The fear of failure.
The first step in overcoming the fear of failure, is realizing that failure is a myth, an illusion. It is a personal judgment we place on an outcome. We may tell ourselves that because we tried and did not receive the result we had hoped for that we failed.
However, this is not true. In reality, we succeeded at getting a result, but because it isn't the result we were seeking, it is often labeled a failure.
As William Shakespeare said through Hamlet, "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." You wouldn't tell a stroke victim who is learning to speak again that they are failing when the words they are struggling to produce come out less than perfect, would you? Of course not, so why then would you claim you have failed when you don't automatically create the results you are seeking in your own life. Does it matter if it is learning to speak, ride a bike, or starting a business?
The One Thing Separating Successful People from Everyone Else
Isn't it true that the thing that separates people who get what they want from those who don't is their ability to stay determined, learn from their results, and modify their actions based on those outcomes?
Think about it. How successful could you be if you developed the attitude that no matter how many times you failed to get the results you are seeking, you would get back up, dust yourself off, and try again? With that attitude, you would be virtually unstoppable.
Dr. Richard Bandler, the co-founder of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, says, "Feedback is the breakfast of champions." If you want to let the fear of failure go from your life, all you must do is change your perception of failure to feedback and then let it guide you to making another attempt. Do this enough times, and eventually, you will discover what works.
3. The fear of success.
The fear of succeeding may hold more people back than the other two combined.
Because the fear of success is really the fear of change. To be successful, one must do things differently than they did before. Before success, the expectations others have of you, and you have of yourself is manageable, you've done it, you know you can handle it. Once you begin to succeed, you know you will have to do more to keep up with it, and you may not be ready for that.
When I began blogging, I knew that if I were going to be successful, I would have to work at it daily. I knew I couldn't just write a couple of blogs a year and then ride on their success. No. I would have to learn how to create, promote, and manage my website. I would have to write, edit, and re-edit.
I recognized before I began that I would have to spend my time differently than before, which meant a change in my lifestyle. I think this is what holds so many people back from doing what they want to do in life. They know that real success equals work, which means giving up some parts of their current way of living. In this case, it is easier to dream about living our purpose than it is to begin living it. We reduce our anxiety by telling ourselves and others, "Someday, I will pursue my dream, but right now, I don't have the time."
Questions for Successfully Overcoming Fear
- What about you?
- What parts of your current lifestyle must change for you to become successful?
- Why does that scare you?
The best way to deal with the fear of success is to begin small while thinking big.
Don't quit your job tomorrow, instead create a six-month plan. Ease into it. When you first start, work at it for just an hour a day, then as you get more comfortable, begin adding thirty minutes more to your schedule. Before you know it, you will be looking for opportunities to express your purpose and work towards your dreams.