Let’s talk about the dreaded F word. F-E-A-R. Not what you thought, but listen up because it’s a doozy.
For so many of us, our deepest fears are that we are NOT brilliant enough, pretty enough, talented enough, and the list goes on. But here’s a secret and listen close: YOU ALREADY ARE ENOUGH. You are all of those things and so much more. You are perfectly, imperfect just as you are. No matter your shape or size, you are enough. Don’t hide it. Believe it and share your positivity, strength, and light with others. Ok I know, easier said than done.
We all have fears, but what we often don’t do is understand how much our fears have a negative impact on achieving goals. Maybe…fear has become such a “normal” way of life for us that we don’t even realize what’s happening when we feel fear. I know I feel fear, and I’ve seen firsthand how fear has kept many of the amazing people I’ve worked with over the years from achieving their goals—both big and small. And let’s be honest: It can be scary to try new things! But…when we better understand fear and how it affects us and our goals, we can face our fears and accomplish some pretty darn amazing things!
What is fear?
Before we get into goal setting, let’s break down fear. I know it seems simple, but trust me, it could be bubbling just under the surface and you don’t even know it! Basically, fear is responsible for keeping us safe, protecting us, and alerting us to potential dangers and threats. When we feel fear, we can react both physically and emotionally. Physically, we can experience an increased heart rate, sweating, and higher adrenaline levels—a “fight or flight” response. And this physical response is automatic.
While the physical reactions to fear can be powerful, the emotional reactions can often be just as powerful, but we might not even recognize that they’re associated with the fear we’re feeling. Here are some of the ways fear can affect us emotionally, and these reactions can range in intensity:
You guys, fear is very real. But…sometimes we let our fears take charge of our lives in negative ways, and this is not a joyful way to live.
I have a definition I love for fear: False Evidence Appearing Real.
Again, and I can’t say this enough, we will experience real fear—the type of fear meant to truly protect us from harm and danger. But, when we fall into the rabbit hole of FEAR, like I defined it above, it can keep us from achieving our goals and living life to its fullest in some ways we might not even realize.
How can fear keep us from achieving our goals?
Fear can be feel like a powerful force. Or fear can be more subtle. Fear can have many faces, depending on the circumstance. But no matter the way fear manifests itself, it has the potential to wreak some havoc in our lives and on our goals. Here are two interesting stats about fear:
- 84% of people have fears about simple things from using the coffee machine, to wearing the wrong clothes, to a fear of snakes, to not knowing how to use the copy machine at work, to not trying something because they think it’s too hard, and so on.
- The fear of failure is the #1 reason people don’t set goals or try new things. So, if you’ve ever let fear get in the way of your goals, you are not alone!
What are some ways fear can keep us from doing what we want to do?
See if any of these resonate with you:
- Procrastination: If we’re afraid to do something new, we’ll put off doing that thing.
- Perfectionism: Even though we know that perfection is 100% unrealistic, we’ll often get it in our heads that we need to do something perfectly, and those perfectionistic feelings can keep us from achieving our goals. If we can’t be perfect, why even try, right?
- Rejection: No one wants to feel rejection. No one wants to feel like they don’t matter or don’t fit in. So, the safest thing to do when facing this fear is nothing. Doing nothing = no rejection.
- Judgment: We might ask ourselves, “What will others think? What if I don’t do this thing right?” Often, we let what we think others will think of us keep us from working on our goals.
- Success: We all want to be successful, right? That’s the goal. But…what if we achieve this goal but can’t sustain it? What if we backslide in our progress? What if we don’t like how our lives will change if we’re successful? What if success doesn’t “feel” like we think it should and we’re disappointed? All of these questions point to a fear of success and can keep us from even trying to achieve our goals.
Again…we all feel fear. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. If you feel fear, especially when starting on a new goal. You’re not alone. You’re in some amazing company. It’s time to stop doing these 3 things when it comes to our fears:
#1. Stop beating ourselves up because we have fears. Again, since we’re human, we will have fears.
#2. Stop letting our fears keep us from pursuing and achieving our goals.
#3. Stop letting fear be in the driver’s seat of our lives.
Tips for Overcoming Fear to Achieve Your Goals
You guys, It takes hope, not fear, to achieve a goal. It takes work to cultivate hope. But those fears? They are free. They come whether you want them to or not. To help you overcome those fears and achieve all your goals, here are some of my top tips:
- Identify your fears. If you’re not aware of them, you can’t address them. Journaling can come in super helpful here. Make it a habit to write down your fears (any and all fears, no matter how small or insignificant you think they might be), when you experience them (what’s going on when you feel that fear?), and then ask yourself if any of your fears are real or could be real. Then, for each fear, ask yourself what the chances are of this fear actually coming to pass. It’s helpful to understand both realistic and unrealistic fears so you can better understand which fears you can control and which ones you can’t.
- Take action against any realistic fears. “Action is the antidote to fear.” Ruth Soukup said that, and I 100% agree! One of the best ways to fight fear is through simply doing something. With fears about your health, for example, here are some things you can do to decrease the chances of that health-related fear happening: Eat healthy, move your body, drink water, get enough sleep, practice regular self-care, and so on. Those are some solid actions you can take to combat that fear.
- Use fear in positive ways. Fear can be so good! It can be used as a catalyst for growth and as a marker or an indicator that what you are about to embark upon has the potential and the ability to be so great. So, whenever possible, turn fear from an enemy into an ally and use it as a source of information and motivation for what you want to accomplish.
- Create or join a community for support. Fear loves for you to work alone. But when you’re part of a community of support where you feel comfortable sharing your fears, that community can help you put your fears into their proper perspective. And maybe someone in your community has already faced some of your fears, proving to you that you can face them too!
- Understand the cost of your fears. Ask yourself: What have my fears cost me in the past? What goals haven’t I achieved or what things haven’t I done due to fear? Often, you don’t realize what fear has cost you or is costing you, so you have no way of understanding the cost vs benefit of your fears. Knowledge is power, and knowledge about your fears can be just the thing to propel you forward in your goals!
I’m ending this with a bit of tough love because I want all of us to overcome our fears so we can become the amazing humans we want to become! I heard this quote a couple of years ago, and it’s stuck with me ever since:
“Fear is an idea-crippling, experience-crushing, success-stalling inhibitor inflicted only by yourself.” ~Stephanie Melish
Yes, some fears are very real, but many aren’t realistic—they won’t ever happen. Let’s make it a goal to face our fears, work to understand them, see them for what they really are, and then go out and achieve our goals! We got this! Remember, when it comes to your fears, you do have a choice. You can let them rule you, or you can look them in the face and charge ahead—and rise to those fears! Let’s make the latter choice! It’s up to you!
12 Lessons Failure Taught Me
Healthy Habits: Setting Emotional Boundaries
How We Teach Our Kids (And Ourselves) To Be Brave
Our 12 Month Transformation, Month Eight: Knowledge is Power!
Healthy Habits: Control + Emotional Wellness