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Goal Achievement

Is Fear Stopping You from Achieving Your Goals?

Are you waiting for fear to go away? If so, you could be waiting for a very long time. In my experience, when striving to achieve ambitious goals fear is almost always present.

I used to think successful people were fearless. What I’ve learned is that successful people still experience fear, but have learned to work through it. A big difference between these goal setters and goal achievers is that achievers take action despite feeling fully ready or fearless.

So instead of waiting for your fear to go away, use courage to overcome it or shift your perspective and let the fear itself help you on your journey to success.

What is Fear?

The best acronym for FEAR I’ve heard is…

F – false

E – expectations

A – appearing

R – real

I used to be so naive and think that I wasn’t impacted by fear – ha! As I’ve grown myself personally and professionally, I realize I am faced with fear on what feels like a daily basis. And as I continue to build my goal achievement empire, I think it’s safe to say fear and I will need to become fast friends so I can continue to level up my thinking, services and impact.

I’ve learned fear shows up for me in the following ways:

  • Striving for Perfection: As I open up and share more about myself, my thoughts and my hurdles, I’m evolving away from my desire to be a straight A student and instead move towards being relatable.
  • Hesitation: When I get a burst of inspiration, feel all excited about an idea, someone to connect with or content to share, and then hesitate to take action… hello fear!
  • What If Thoughts: When my mind is working on overdrive and thinking of all the ‘what ifs’ – What if this happens? What if that happens? What if this doesn’t happen? Yep… fear.

As I become more familiar with fear, I am learning to welcome it as a sign of growth and striving to become the best coach I can be. I encourage you to take a moment and reflect on some of the ways that fear shows up in your own life or business. Identifying and knowing exactly how fear shows up will make it all the easier to work through and overcome.

Types of Fear: Fear of Failure vs. Fear of Success

Many of us are familiar with the fear of failure. In fact, the three predominant ways that fear shows up for me all stem from this fear that I am not enough or that I am going to fail. We’ve all had thoughts such as:

  • What if this doesn’t work?
  • I need to spend more time perfecting my process before taking action.
  • I’m not qualified enough to work with [insert intimidating market].

These negative mental narratives are all signs of fear of failure.

However, there is another aspect of fear that many of us are not as familiar with that can also prevent you from achieving your goals – the fear of success. Trust me, I know how ridiculous this might initially sound. Success is supposed to be the one thing we are all striving for, right? To check off that box on our to-do list, to cross that finish line, to achieve that goal. Fear of success shows up when you start making progress towards your goals and then BAM something happens that pulls you back to where you started or prevents you from even starting in the first place. Fear of success manifests in thoughts such as:

  • Things are going too well.
  • When will things start to go wrong?
  • What will other people think of me if I achieve my goal?
  • This isn’t working, so I should give up (when success is right around the corner!)

How to Move Through Fear

No matter how fear shows up in your life, or whether it’s the fear of failure or fear of success that’s holding you back, you need to move through this fear in order to stay the course to achieve your goals. Here are some of my favorite practices that have helped me work through my own fear:

Power Questions

When I was considering launching my coaching business two years ago, I felt a ton of fear. In fact, it was this same fear that prevented me from honoring the calling that had been on my heart for nearly a decade. As I wrestled with the decision to stay with the familiar or leap into the unknown, two questions rocked my world: 

  1. What’s the worst that can happen? 
  2. What’s the best that can happen? 

I answered each question and realized the real fear lied in not going after the answers of what’s the best that can happen? This realization helped me power through the fear of failure and start taking action towards growing my business.

The Thermometer Analogy

I’ve heard people describe breaking through the fear of success with a thermometer analogy. We all have an internal temperature that we are comfortable with and as we start taking action towards our goals, our temperature starts to rise. We are likely to pull back, self-sabotage or doubt our ability to succeed in order to lower our temperature back to the level we’ve become comfortable with. In order to solve this dilemma, we need to raise our internal temperature and become comfortable with who we are and what we are actually capable of achieving.

Get comfortable in the uncomfortable because that is where the growth happens.

Shift Your Perspective

Did you know that fear and excitement feel the same? Our brains are hardwired to focus on the negative, so when you are faced with something new you might be mistaking excitement for fear. Being mindful of the language you use to describe the situation you are experiencing can help you shift away from fear and move towards excitement.

And what happens when you make this shift in your perspective? Instead of viewing fear as a negative, you can start to view it as a sign that you are:

  • Growing in the direction of your goals
  • Embracing something new
  • Striving to maximize your potential

Set It. Test It. Evolve It.

Our desire to get it right often keeps us from doing anything at all. Three simple phrases have helped me (and many of my clients!) work through fear to start implementing new ideas:

Set it.
Test it.
Evolve it.

When we really stop to think about a process or list out the action steps of a new idea, we likely have about 80% of the process or idea already in our mind. That’s enough to set it. Getting 80% of an idea outlined allows you to start implementing. This action will create the clarity needed to move you closer to 100%. As you start testing a new process or idea, you’ll start to uncover what works and what doesn’t. Adopting a ‘test it’ mentality frees you from the feeling of needing to be perfect and reminds you that you’ll likely improve the process or idea along the way. As you start learning what works and what doesn’t, evolve your process or idea. Don’t get too caught up in a time frame. It might take one or hundreds of attempts before you get it just right.

I would like to send you off with one simple thought – get comfortable exploring the fear. Fear can be sneaky and can show up in statements such as “I don’t have time!” or “I’m not ready!” If you find yourself avoiding a task that you know is important to your goals, ask yourself why. You might need to identify if fear is what’s getting in your way.