What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Would you open a bike shop? Write a novel? Move to Costa Rica and teach English for a living? Propose to your girlfriend and build a family together?
Many of us have a good sense, deep down, of who we are and where we would like our lives to go – but all too often, we allow fear to hold us back. Our intuition becomes so clouded with thoughts of what might go wrong that our true vision can become completely obscured, and, ultimately, ignored. Because of fear, many of us will never realize our true potential.
So, which is scarier to you: Taking the leap and falling, maybe even hurtfully or repeatedly, or letting your life pass you by without ever attempting to become the most whole and happy version of yourself? Both options are terrifying, but at some point in your life you will have to pick one of them. Why not pick the choice with the possible upside?
Here are four steps to becoming the person fear would not let you be:
Determine Your True Direction
This is by far the most difficult step for most people. It requires the ability to look at yourself in depth with complete honesty, understanding, and transparency. You may not like what you find – for example, discovering that you value money more than you would like to, or that you are not as ambitious as you wish you were. You may have to work on self-improvement or self-acceptance until your vision for your life becomes aligned with the things that your soul truly desires. You may need to get back in touch with your intuition, as we often tune it out in favor of more practical and earthly voices. Give yourself plenty of time for this step, because it is important to get this one just right. You don’t want to walk twenty miles to the east only to discover that your destination was actually to the northwest. Be patient with yourself, and you can avoid a lot of backtracking later on.
Ignore the Haters
The other day, I came across a delightful meme that said “Haters will see you teleport and be like ‘He can’t afford a car.'” I laughed at this for way too long – because it is true. Many people will criticize your decision to follow your dream in order to mitigate their own regrets and feelings of inadequacy. Be careful, however, to differentiate a “hater” from a friend showing genuine concern for your health/career/finances/relationships/well-being. One fears that you will fall, and the other fears that you will fly. Ignore the people who just want to keep you stuck in the mud with them – misery loves company, after all. Listen to the ones who want you to fly, but think you should first make sure your compass is accurate and your wings are in good working order. Which brings me to my next point…
Proceed With Caution
In order to have staying power, your dream must have with it a feasible plan that is firmly grounded to reality. While this is the least fun step, it is also the most crucial in regards to achieving your goals. Map out, in as much detail as possible, everything that will change in your new life. Consider how you will manage your time, your money, and your relationships. Be realistic, and recognize that there are areas in which you might have to compromise. If at all possible, have a backup plan or an exit strategy. All of this planning may sound tedious, but it is absolutely necessary. Having a firm and realistic game-plan will not only make your dream easier to manifest, but will also give you confidence so you do not become paralyzed with fear should your plans either not work out or change somewhere along the road.
Jim Camp once said “Unnecessary fear of a bad decision is a major stumbling block to good decisions.” This fear of failure is what stops most people from ever going after their true passion. In The Biology of Belief, Bruce Lipton describes the cell as being capable of acting in either defense mode of growth mode – but not both at the same time. Similarly, we cannot grow with wild abandon and determination while we are also trying to defend ourselves from our own doubts and insecurities. You will need to be sure of yourself before you launch. If you are not, the problem is likely in one of the three previous steps. Examine your hesitation, and then go back to ensure that your direction, plan, and support system are on point.
Going after your dream is not an easy thing to do. It requires intelligence, intuition, and a tremendous amount of hard work. If you can pull it off, however, it is sure to be one of the most rewarding things that you ever accomplish.