Sometimes, we are our own worst enemies. When I sat down to write my first book, Surviving and Thriving Despite the Drama, I stopped and started too many times to count. Even though I had a title, an outline, and part of a first draft, I was stuck. I knew that even if I finished the writing, I didn’t know anything about editing, book cover design, or publishing. I only knew that I had a story to tell but, having a story to tell is clearly not enough. That story languished in a deep well of fears. I couldn’t outfox my fears.
Our fears hold us captive
My fears held me captive. I was afraid that my story wasn’t good enough, I was afraid that I didn’t have what it takes to be an author, I was afraid to make a mistake, I was afraid to share my thoughts and feelings, I was afraid of failure and I was afraid of success. My fears outweighed my passion for sharing my story.
When we give in to our fears, we don’t take chances and we miss opportunities. When we don’t try, we stop ourselves from feeling the exhilaration and joy that comes when we experience success.
What fears are holding you back? How can you overcome your fears? How can you test the reality of those fears?
Here are the six strategies to help you outfox your fears.
- Do a pre-mortem. This exercise is based on a risk analysis method called FMEA (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis) which is used to reduce risks and improve safety. To create your own pre-mortem, figure out the worst things that could happen and then determine how to avoid or minimize those outcomes. Naming our fears can make them less frightening and more approachable. The more detailed you can be in your descriptions, the easier it will be to visualize the potential outcomes. This will help you outfox your fears. With those outcomes in mind, how can you prevent them or minimize their impact?
- Find a coach and an accountability partner. A coach is someone who will guide your actions by challenging you to think deeper and push you to work through the obstacles that you face. They will support and guide you in crafting a detailed success plan. As your accountability partner, he/she will hold you to task for completing agreed-upon actions. Who do you need on your success team to keep you moving forward?
- Visualize yourself overcoming that obstacle. What do you see? Let your imagination go and bring out as many details as possible. Here is an example:
If you are afraid of public speaking, visualize yourself as the featured speaker in front of a room full of people. You are dressed impeccably. Before your speech, you had the opportunity to meet and greet several audience members. You take a deep breath, smile at the audience, focus on a few friendly faces, and start your speech. You have their complete attention; your words engage and energize them. You see audience members shaking their heads up and down in agreement. You know that they are with you. When your speech is over, you get a warm round of applause and your host compliments your words. How does that make you feel? What one small step can you take today to move towards this image?
- Feel your fear. Hold that fear in your thoughts. What does your fear feel like? Where in your body do you experience that fear? Bring your fear to the forefront of your thinking at least once a day for a week. Write down what you are thinking and feeling every day. Getting in touch with your fear will help you bring it down to size.
- Let it go, learn, and move on. If you have experienced a failure, chances are some things went right. Figure out what worked and what didn’t and start again. Consider every failure as a learning opportunity. You can learn to outfox your fears by taking the learning, building on it, and moving forward. You’ll be starting from a place of knowledge with each iteration. Consider, Thomas Edison who didn’t find the right filament for the electric lightbulb until he and his team had tested over 6,000 plant materials. While your goal may not require 6,000 trials, let the motivation and dedication behind Edison’s pursuit inspire you.
- Fear Matrix. Get your fears out in the open with the fear matrix. It will help you to get out of your head, clearly articulate your fears, and determine your next steps. Although you can begin in any quadrant, I suggest starting with the bottom right question: What’s the worst thing that can happen if I don’t do this thing? This is likely where you are stuck in a place of inaction. Move through the matrix clockwise until you have answered each of the questions. The answers will gently guide you into action.
How did I get my book finished?
How did I get my book finished? I hired a book coach. He provided me the push that I needed to complete the writing and his services included those things I knew nothing about: editing, book cover design, and publishing. With those fears safely put to rest, I was able to publish my book in under 6 months.
COMEBACK QUEEN TIP When we give into our fears, we don’t take chances and we miss opportunities. Outfox your fears and experience your success.
What ideas, projects, or creative endeavors are languishing behind your fears? What’s holding you back and which of these strategies will you choose to outfox your fears?
Survive and Thrive Despite the Drama
You can learn 7 strategies to regain control, develop resilience, and rewrite your own happily ever after ending from Marsha Friedman's book Surviving and Thriving Despite the Drama.