In honor of the scary times we’re living in, I’m busting out my Big-Ass List of Fears.
For real. Not the campy comedy-horror movie kind (think American Werewolf in London). Nope, I’m talking about the real stuff. You know, the gnawing 3 am, ‘what am I doing with my life?’ kind of fears.
The fears that keep us awake at night are almost always anticipatory fears of the unknown. And they come in so many flavors!
If you’re like me, sometimes you end up playing a 3 am round of wackamole with your fears. Just as I manage to quell one version of a fear, another related variety will crop up.
Over the years, between dealing with my own fears, and coaching musicians through a variety of their fear-inducing-challenges, I’ve amassed a catalog I call . . .
The Big-Ass List of Fears. It’s a work in progress, so if you see any missing fears, send’em along!
Here are the biggies
fear of failure
fear of success
fear that our dream is unattainable
fear of being judged
fear of disappointing others
fear of disappointing ourselves
fear of not being good enough
fear that we will never be good enough
fear that what we do has no value
fear that we won’t have made a difference
fear that we will have wasted our talents and our lives
There’s also the more practical variety . . .
fear that our lifestyle is not sustainable
fear that our freelance work will dry up
fear that we will never be able to quit our day job
fear that we will never be able to retire
fear that we’ll go bankrupt and become homeless
fear that our latest project is impossible
And the specific career task fears . . .
fear of networking
fear of negotiating a fee or salary
fear of spreadsheets
fear of budgeting
fear of dealing with our debt
fear of managing our time
fear of planning
And there’s also the fears related to our identity
fear of owning our success
fear of owning our mistakes and shortcomings
fear of our own ambitions
fear of making changes that challenge our sense of identity
fear of letting go of who we are in order to become who we are meant to be
And of course there’s our everyday phobias
fear of dentists, snakes, werewolves, spiders, household repairs, kickball, and bumping into your fourth grade teacher (I could go on and on . . .)
So what do we do with all these fears, what’s the answer?
It helps to acknowledge there’s . . .
A plus side to fear
And it’s this: fear is a terrific Indicator. It points us to what we most need to do.
The more fear we have around a project or initiative, the more we can be certain that doing that scary thing is necessary for our personal and professional development.
I’ve seen this play out again and again. The thing that we fear most is what we most need to tackle—it’s where all the growth and the impact will be.
My work has given me a crash course in fear, thanks to my amazing clients. It’s so inspiring to coach musicians who are willing to acknowledge their own fears and venture beyond their comfort zones, daring to put their best selves out into the world.
Of course, change can feel threatening. Taking on challenges—new ways of managing your time and energy—can be scary.
But the truth is, the things we end up regretting are not the challenges you took on—it’s the challenges you didn’t take on.
It helps to remember that . . .
Courage isn’t about being fearless. It’s about feeling the fear and taking action in spite of it.
It all starts with acknowledging the truth. Naming the elephants of fear in the room, and working through how to move forward and past them.
Eleanor Roosevelt advised making it a habit: “Do one thing everyday that scares you.” Make it small and concrete. Like drafting an email pitch, initiating a tough, long overdue conversation, or finally sending the email you’ve been avoiding.
By doing something that scares every day you’ll strengthen the muscle needed to activate your desired future.
This works because when you take courageous action and move forward, something shifts. It’s as though the world becomes a more welcoming place and good results start to compound. Your courageous actions set the ripple effect into motion.
If you’d like to find out how coaching with me can help you take the courageous actions needed to achieve your goals, schedule a time HERE.
All the best,
Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well