Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fear & Self-Doubt

Have you ever had an opportunity to do something you'd really love, but when overwhelming fear took over you conjured up an excuse to get out of it?

I've been there. 

When I worked at J.C. Penney as a visual merchandiser, I was presented with a great opportunity by one of my interior design school instructors to help set stores for the grand opening of the Great Mall of the Great Plains.  I couldn't believe at nineteen years old I was asked to do something so incredible!  It could open so many doors in my career!  But the more I visualized it, the more I thought about it, insecurity crept in.  I started doubting my abilities, worrying about my lack of experience or that someone might think I was too young to know what I was doing, and fearing I'd fail.  So I came up with some lame excuse and didn't go though with it.

To this day, I feel regret when I think about that missed opportunity.  I'll never know what could've happened for me, where I would've gone, what doors would've flown open.  Of course, I'm where I am now for a reason and I wouldn't change a thing.  But I can't help but wonder.

I remember that story whenever I find myself staring fear and self-doubt in the face.  I think about how I wish I would've just stepped out of my comfort zone, taken a risk, and given it a try.  Even if I'd made a mistake or failed, at least I gave it my all.

My dream at the time was to be an interior designer.  I had the desire, the talent, and I wanted it so much.  I thought I would do anything to make it happen.  But when it came down to it, I just wasn't willing to take the steps, do the work, or take risks to create the result and make my dream come to life.  My inner self-doubt consistently had me questioning every single move I made.
Today I came across an article from Forbes.com on overcoming fear and self-doubt.  The writer lists these four steps to help break through and they were too wonderful not to share!

1. Take a No-Excuses Approach
Although, some may call them “reasons”, people stop themselves all the time by using excuses.  The opportunity they want so badly finally shows up, and they make excuses so as not to go forward.  The most frequent excuses are “I don’t have enough money,” “I don’t have enough time, “I’m too busy”, “I don’t want to travel,” and the list goes on.  They use these excuses as their trap door, their escape route.

When pressed in a life or death situation, would you find the time or money?  If someone you loved was trapped in a building, would you stop trying to rescue them if the front door was locked?  No, of course not.  You’d try the back door, then the windows, and every other possible way, right?

To achieve success, you’ve got to be willing to take the same approach with your business.  Successful people are those who take a No-Excuses Approach and are willing to do what others won’t.

So, how badly do you want it? You either have excuses or you have results.  Which do you choose?

2. Feel the Fear—But Do It Anyway
The ego creates fear to keep you small.  For example, fear of rejection, fear of overwhelm, fear of humiliation, fear of making mistakes, fear of losing it all, fear of the unknown, and on and on it goes.  The list is huge.

All entrepreneurs I know experience fear.  What separates those who are successful and those who allow fear to hold them back is the willingness to act in spite of the fear.  The best way to get over fear is to walk directly into it.  It takes courage but you know what?  Walking into fear is never as bad as you think it’s going to be.  Instead, you’ll find it liberating.

3. Be Willing to Stretch Beyond Your Comfort Zone
Most people avoid discomfort like the plague.  If you want to get to the next level, you’ve got to be comfortable being uncomfortable—just for a short time. Yes, it’s a little scary at first but let’s face it, it’s not going to kill you.

The question is—are you willing?  Are you willing to trade short-term discomfort for long-term success?  If so, are you willing to go where you have to go?  Are you willing to talk to who you have to talk to?  Are you willing to move for what you want?  Are you willing to do what you haven’t done?  Are you willing to stretch beyond your comfort zone?

4. Take Decisive Action
You can’t just wish for (or dream about) something.  You’ve got to take action.  Action is an issue of personal responsibility.  It’s where you acknowledge that you are solely responsible for the choices in your life and you accept that you cannot blame others for the choices you have made.  Time and time again our inner self-doubt makes us question everything and keeps us from taking action when the solution shows up.  This all boils down to one thing and one thing only.  In plain English it’s called self-sabotage.

Widening your perspective around success starts with a decision.  Once you make a decision to succeed, it’s time to commit to doing whatever it takes to make it happen.
It comes down to taking bold and decisive action toward what you say you want in your business or your life.  It’s about saying YES to what’s possible for you.  Saying YES to the opportunities that are divinely given to you—and then taking action.  Your life will never be the same.


  1. Oh my! You have hit the nail on the head for me today, heck, this year. Johnny's dream is to be a full time musician. He will have to quit his full time, not to mention stable, job. My business can in no way support a family of 4. It scares the (you can fill in the blank) outta me! I know I need to let go but I have a hard time not being able to provide for my family or the unknown about where we will go if everything falls apart. Humph. That "net" you speak of is very illusive. Fear is my middle name in this era of my life right now. Thanks for the encouragement though!

    OG's Kat Tracy

    1. YAY KAT!!!!!! :)

      I'm so glad this helped you! I'm in the very same boat with fear about following a "career" dream... it's a very normal, understandable fear. We have to provide for our families so it's scary to think about taking a risk... and it's a LOT of pressure.

      When I dream about changing careers, it forces me to consider what sacrifices I could make and what's really needed/important that I'm spending money on now. I know my priorities are out of wack sometimes (aka: Sephora). I've been exposing myself to "frugal" blogs - moms/wives who write about how they make it work with less or live on $22,000 a year, etc. I'm shocked by how simple some things can be. Others will take serious effort and mind adjustment to not feel like we're "doing without".

      I deal with this in my weight loss/healthy eating journey... I can't look at eating less food or saying no to certain foods as though I'm being deprived, but that I WANT my dream to happen - I'm committed to it and I'm willing to do whatever it takes... even if that means a simple sacrifice of eating a salad instead of a meal from McDonald's. I KNOW it will pay off in the end and I'd never regret making that decision!

      (Thanks for commenting!!)