Quite often I get half way through writing a blog post and realise I’m writing it as much to myself as anyone else. This week is no different, and you’re getting this late for precisely that reason! This week I’m writing about fear. It’s the ONE thing that stops you getting what you want. This week it was the one thing that stopped me writing this sooner, I was scared of getting it wrong, scared of not hitting the high standards I set for myself and scared that I wouldn’t be able to tackle this huge subject in few enough words to keep you interested. But here goes...
Think about what you most want in life, or for your career? Why don’t you have it yet?
These are questions I ask a lot. They kick off the coaching relationship. The responses I get are diverse and varied. Financial constraints, concern over what other people might think, a lack of experience or skills, low confidence, a feeling of trepidation, self doubt... no crystal ball!
Once you break these things down, without exception, they are driven by fear. Fear of financial difficultly and a lack of security, fear of what people might think, the fear of failure and the fear of exclusion, not knowing how things might turn out, the list goes on. And each and every one stands between you and what you want to achieve. The reason for this is that all of these things, on the face of it, conflict with our most basic needs, those of security, belonging and esteem. The problem is, if we let those thoughts win, they also prevent us from reaching past that to achieve the thing we most want. Especially when there’s a previous experience lurking there to prove their fears were right all along.
We collect excuses and knit them into a huge protective coat to shield us from all the terrible things that will happen if our fears come true. But the coat slows us down and as well as protecting us, it prevents us from experiencing things and achieving what we most want.
So how do we overcome this and still go on to achieve big things? The key is to minimise the perceived risk. Here is my five point plan for facing your fears:
- Set goals – set a goal that has a timeline attached to it. It’s very easy to think something is impossible because you can’t do it right now. Decide what you’re going to achieve and by when and then…
- Break it down into small chunks and tackle each one in turn – it feels a lot less scary to take on a small task or step in the process.
- Work out the knowns and unknowns – think about the things need answers to to make you feel like it’s safe to take the next step. One of my favourite clients didn’t even know if her dream job existed when we first started working together, our first step was to find out. And then we found out what sort of people did it, and then we answered the next question and so on… she now has two offers of her dream job on the table and is trying to choose between them! Make sure you challenge the things you think you know too if they’re things that are getting in your way.
- Manage your stakeholders – draw a map of all the people that will be affected by what it is you’re planning to achieve. Then decide if they’re important, and if they are then talk to them about how they can support you or what you need from them, and even more importantly what they need from you. If they’re not important, then we’re not going to think about them again!
- Learn from others. Chances are, you’re not the first to step out and try and achieve what you’re setting out to do. Research other people who have been successful and find out their journeys. It’s easy to compare to the successful version of someone you aspire to but you will learn that they didn’t start out that way. Success really doesn’t happen overnight!
Do all of these things and you’ll feel that big heavy coat start to unravel. When you’re not carrying round the weight of it, and taking consistent action towards your goals, you'll start to feel as though anything is possible and that's because it is.