In my work as a coach, I encounter fear on a regular basis. It is the single most present emotion in every person I meet who wants to be a coach. They want life to be different, but they're scared to make the change. They are afraid they don't have what it takes, that they can't have what they really want, that embarking on the process of change will rock the boat of their personal and professional lives so much that they'll be tossed into the water with few options for crawling back to safety.
These are the three ways people respond to this kind of fear:
Avoid. The fear is too much, they simply can't take it, and therefore their deep desire to create a different, better life goes nowhere. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. They stay stuck.
Freeze. They don't necessarily run, and they are very aware that change must happen and is likely inevitable, but they can't quite bring themselves to take an active step in the direction of making it happen. They keep talking about it, but don't take action. They stay on the treadmill. This reaction also leads to—you guessed it—staying stuck. But unlike the avoiders, people in this category are likely to become increasingly uncomfortable with the status quo, and many will eventually take the steps needed to move forward.
Feel the fear and do it anyway. Now THIS is the sweet spot. This is the mindset that sets you up for growth and expansion. Unfortunately, there seem to be fewer people here in #3, and far more people in #1 and #2.
There are always rationalizations and justifications when it comes to #1 and #2 (see my blog post “Conditionality”) for being in that place. But these aren't reasons. They are the excuses we make to alleviate the discomfort of being too afraid to proceed.
If you're reading this and thinking, "Shit, that's totally me. How do I get past it?" know that you're not alone, and that you can get unstuck. Here's how:
Choose to. Make the choice to do it despite the fear.
Anticlimactic, right? Except NO, it's not anticlimactic, and here's why. When you are in the high-achieving rat race of chasing success, so much of what you do is focused on meeting the expectations of others. How to be a good parent, manager, employee, friend, etc. You put yourself on the back burner and before you know it, your life is totally driven by the needs of those around you. You end up in a disempowered mode of operation, where you feel as if you have no choice but to do X, Y, or Z.
But you do have a choice. You must have the courage to exercise it. Take back the reins. It's time to be the power player in charge of driving your own life.
Here's the thing about acting in the face of fear:
The more you do it, the easier it is. You've heard me say it before and you'll hear me say it again—when you first try to change the way you operate, it's as if your "muscles" are weak. They've never been tested. The more you use them, the stronger they become, and the easier it is to make different choices and act in ways you never did before. Think of it the same way you would trying to lift a heavier weight or run a farther distance. It will be hard at first, it may even feel impossible, but you keep at it and before you know it you're lifting 2x as much and running twice as far as you believed you could.
Which way do you respond? Are you typically a 1, 2 or 3? If you're a 1 or 2, make the choice to act despite fear and give that muscle a chance to flex and become stronger.