My fears held me back. When I sat down to write my first book, Surviving and Thriving Despite the Drama, I stopped and started too many times to count. That story languished for months in a deep well of fears. I couldn’t overcome my fears.
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 was clearly not enough. What strategy would I need to master to overcome my fears?
Do your fears ever get in the way of your success? If so, this article will provide you with six strategies to overcome your fears and pave a path to your success.
My fears held me captive
My fears held me captive. I was afraid that my story wasn’t good enough, that I didn’t have what it takes to be an author. I was scared to make a mistake and worried about sharing my thoughts and feelings. On top of that, the possibility of either failure or success made me quake. My fears outweighed my passion for sharing my story and I didn’t know how to overcome my fears.
When we give in to our fears, we get stuck. 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 with accomplishment. Overcoming your fears is key to taking action and moving forward.
What fears are holding you back?
What fears are holding you back? Are your fears real or imagined? How can you test the reality of those fears? How can you overcome your fears?
Start at the end
To overcome your fears, try these six strategies which begin with the end in mind. First, start with a pre-mortem which reduces risk by putting safeguards in place to prevent the worst of your fears. Next, move on with help from a coach or an accountability partner. You don’t have to work through your fears alone. Third, use visualization to imagine what’s possible and to see a successful outcome. Fourth, bring your fear out into the open, feel it in your body and think about it every day. Fifth, let it go and move on. Build on what you’ve learned and try again. Lastly, move yourself to action by answering the questions in the fear matrix.
Here are the six strategies to help you overcome your fears.
These six strategies will help you overcome your fears.
- Do a pre-mortem. This exercise is based on a risk analysis method called FMEA (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis). FMEA is used to reduce risks and improve safety. To create your own pre-mortem, figure out the worst things that could happen. Next, determine what steps you can take to avoid or minimize those negative outcomes. Naming your fears can make them less frightening and more approachable. The more detailed your descriptions, the easier it will be to visualize the potential outcomes. With those outcomes in mind, how can you prevent them or minimize their impact? This will help you outfox your fears.
- 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. In addition, 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, then visualize yourself as the featured speaker in front of a room full of people. You are dressed impeccably. Before you speak, 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. After 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? Locate your fear and feel it. Now, bring that 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. As a result, 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. Every failure is a learning opportunity. You can learn to outfox your fears by taking that learning, building on it, and moving forward. You’ll be starting from a place of knowledge with each iteration. If this sounds cumbersome, 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 shown below. 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. Then, move through the matrix clockwise until you have answered each of the questions. The answers will gently guide you into action.
How did I overcome my fears and finish my book?
How did I overcome my fears and finish my book? I hired a book coach. My coach provided me the push that I needed to complete the writing process. And, his services included those things I knew nothing about: editing, book cover design, and publishing. As a result, with those fears safely put to rest, I was able to publish my book in under 6 months.
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 overcome your fears?
If you want to check out the book that I did finish writing and learn the 7 strategies to regain control, develop resilience, and rewrite your happy ending, then click here to access Surviving & Thriving Despite the Drama.