Fear is the greatest and perhaps sneakiest obstacle to reaching our goals. We may think we're stalled because of other people's objections, insufficient resources or circumstances outside our control. But it is often fear that keeps us from seeing a way around barriers, causing us to abandon our dreams.
We can't eliminate fear. We can manage it and move past it.
FEAR OF FAILURE
You believe that if you don't succeed, disaster will result. You think catastrophically expecting the worst.
Strategy: Envision the terrible consequences you fear. Then analyse the situation rationally. How likely is it that your worst fear will materialise? Now forcefully challenge your fears. Talk to yourself, out loud if necessary.
Example: I've handled setbacks before. I can rise to the occasion.
This won't feel natural but do it anyway. Like any skill, controlling catastrophic thinking takes practice.
FEAR OF SUCCESS
Sometimes we are stopped by the fear of what will happen if we do get what we want. That's why some people tend to make mistakes when they are close to accomplishing a goal.
This fear is often based on preconceptions formed in childhood from our parents' beliefs or what we observed in the adults around us.
Example: Successful people are self-centered and ruthless. If I do something well, people will expect more of me and I will be forced to work even harder.
Strategy: When you are stuck, ask yourself what you stand to gain by not succeeding. More free time? Less responsibility? Identify the assumptions that underlie your thinking. Are they valid?
FEAR OF BEING IMPERFECT
A perfectionist may avoid pursuing an opportunity if he/she isn't sure he will excel at it, whether developing a new skill, going after a big client or starting a conversation with a stranger.
Perfectionists lose out on learning and growing from mistakes. They also waste time on details because they're afraid to delegate because they don't trust anyone else to do the job right. If you spend a great deal of time planning for every contingency rather than taking action, you may be paralysed by perfectionism.
Strategy: Delegate a minor task, and keep quiet if it's done adequately but not brilliantly. Practicing "non-perfectionism" on other people can help you become more tolerant of yourself.
FEAR OF DISAPPROVAL
If you feel you must be liked by everyone, you'll waste energy trying to satisfy people who are insignificant in your life. Or you may postpone making overtures to people who could help you.
Strategy: Create a support team of friends and family members that you can rely on to build you up when you are down. Turn to them when you feel -- or anticipate being -- rejected. They can remind you of what you're doing right.
Key: Create this team before you need it. Start by giving of yourself to others so that you have a network when you need it.
FEAR OF CHANGE
Even when we want things to be different, change can make us feel uncomfortable and vulnerable.
Strategy: Build as much familiarity as possible into any new situation. Identify daily routines that make you feel anchored and content from walking the dog to reading the paper over your morning coffee. Pick at least three of these anchors, and resolve to continue doing them every day, no matter what else happens.
Example: It is difficult to make sales calls, so I start each morning by reading a motivational or quote book and having my favorite coffee. Then I'm prepared to make calls.