I believe that deep down, all of us want to live our dream lives. However, many people never pursue what they are meant to do, usually out of fear.
Many times, I find myself in positions where I want to pursue something big and scary and the temptation to settle for less and live a comfortable life is huge. Sometimes, I can overcome the fear and anxiety of failure. Other times, I need my coach to help me overcome them.
In this article, I want to show you seven steps how you can overcome that fear and make it almost impossible for you not to pursue your dreams. I borrowed this exercise from The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss.
Opening a Bar at the Beach in Playa Del Carmen
I recently started to work with a new client who is originally from Mexico. She has been working in the corporate world for almost 20 years and feels that it left her with an emptiness inside.
When she contacted me, she had decided that she no longer wants to put up with a career that pays very well for the pain of not pursuing what she is meant to do. She decided that, when she turns 80 years old, she wants to tell her grandkids a different story than the one of corporate politics and managing emails for 40 years.
I asked her the question “What’s the worst thing that can happen if you pursue the path that makes you come alive?”. With a mix of humor and seriousness, she answered “Well, I will cash in the money form my pension, sell my home in Switzerland and move back to Mexico and open a bar at the beach in Playa Del Carmen.”
1. What’s the Worst Thing Than Could Happen?
In the process of overcoming that fear to pursue your passion, this is the first question you need to ask. Like my client above, answer what you would do if things don’t work out. What would you do if what you pursue fails?
Maybe you would be out of work for 6 months if you quit your job and what you pursue did not work out.
Maybe you would loose the social status among your “friends”.
Write down exactly what you think is the worst thing that could happen.
Many times, you will find that the absolute worst thing that could happen is actually not your death or losing everything in your life. Also, you will soon realize that the worst thing that could happen is actually not that likely to happen.
2. What Could You Do to Get Back on Track
Let’s for a moment imagine if what you have pictured above would actually take place. What could you do to restore the situation before it happened?
If you were employed before, what steps could you take to get into employment again? How could you get back on track, even if it’s just temporarily.
In the book The Startup of You, Reid Hoffman calls this Plan Z. Plan A is what you really want to pursue. If that, for some reason, fails and the worst case scenario happens, you have Plan Z that will make sure you survive. Maybe you could move in with a friend or your parents. Maybe you could get a job for a while that at least pays the bills.
Write down what steps you could take to get back on track and restore the situation.
3. What’s More Probably Going to Happen?
By now, you may have realized that the worst case scenario is not very likely to happen. So, what is more likely to happen if you pursue what you really want? What are the more likely things you will experience? What benefits come from that? How do you feel because of that more probable situation?
Maybe a more probable scenario is that you will meet people who are actually living their dreams and you can find a mentor.
Maybe the process will boost your self-esteem and confidence that you can turn your passion into a thriving career.
Maybe it will open your mind for new possibilities that you have not been able to see before.
Maybe pursuing your passion will actually lead into living the life you always dreamed of.
Write down what you think is a more probable outcome of pursuing your passion and the benefits from that.
4. How Could You Get Things Under Financial Control?
One of our biggest fears is usually about money. What if we lose everything and we can’t pay the bills? What if we can’t support our family?
This is probably the number one fear that holds us back from pursuing what we really want.
So if everything fails, what can you do to have enough money to get things under control again? Could you sell your car? Maybe sell your house and rent a place for a while? Could you cash in your pension? Could you get back to your old job or easily find another job for a while that pays the bills?
Write down how you could get things under financial control if you lost your job today or if the worst case scenario happened.
5. What Are You Putting Off Out of Fear?
Now that step is where we get into action. Usually, what we fear doing is what we actually need to do in order to achieve our dreams and goals. So what are you not doing out of fear? Which actions and tasks are you procrastinating because of fear of failure or maybe even fear of success?
This list will be your to do list. Doing these things will move you closer to your dream career. It will certainly expand your comfort zone to take on these tasks and projects. However, if you have completed the previous steps, these actions won’t seem that scary any more and you will be more likely to take action on them.
Write down everything that you are putting off out of fear. Make a detailed list.
6. What Does it Cost You to Postpone Action?
What does it cost you financially? What does it cost you emotionally? What are you missing out on because you are not pursing what you really want? How will you feel 10 years from now if you did not pursue your passion? How will you feel about yourself 10 years from now if you keep following the path you are on right now?
What does it cost you physically? How does it affect your health or relationships? How does it affect your marriage or family?
Linking pain to not changing is extremely powerful to push yourself to move away from the status quo. By linking pain to not pursuing your dreams, you make the gap between what is and what has to be so big, that your unconsciousness will do everything to close that gap.
Write down what it costs you if you don’t pursue your passion.
7. What Are You Waiting for?
This may sounds like a rhetorical question but it’s not. If you can come up with nothing else can mere excuses of lack of time or other resources, you are simply afraid and that’s natural. We are all afraid of things like failure.
If you have completed steps 1-6, you realize that you are putting things off out of fear. Luckily, you now have a todo list from your exercises in step 5. These are the things you need to tackle right now to move closer to what you really want.
If the fear of pursuing what you really want is still too big for you to take action, go through step 1-6 again to become more confident that you could get things back on track and that the potential nightmare is not actually the end of the world.
If you still find yourself procrastinating the actions that get you closer to what you really want, hire a coach to help you overcome your limiting beliefs and hold you accountable for your goals.
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