Do It Scared: How Taking Messy Action in Spite of Fear Creates Lasting Confidence
Fear of failure and worry over your actions’ outcomes are far better tools for success than you might think.
Have you ever found yourself consumed with passion and interest in a new adventure, only to have your voyage halted by the fear of not achieving immediate success?
As obvious as this may sound, don’t worry! All this means is that you’re human, and you’re an active, wonderful participant in what often proves to be a scary and messy world.
A lot of times our ambitions never get the chance to see the sea beyond the port because we’re so worried about maximizing our performance. We remain where it’s most comfortable and cling to what we feel we can control. However, within you lies an unbreakable human spirit, one that will propel you toward achieving personal success in spite of the challenges in your way.
If you’re reading this, you’re already taking your first steps to overcome fear! And you’re already well on your way to achieving personal growth and newfound confidence. Come along as we navigate some practical steps to take those first critical actions and put fear in its place.
How Can You Stop Living in Fear and Anxiety? First, Find Their Origin.
The world is full of opportunities for you to live your fullest life. However, it can often provide a generous portion of fears, stressors, and anxiety. The first step to navigating the obstacles before you is to recognize your specific fears and their origin.
More often than not the most clear and present danger manifests itself through physical fears, which typically take the form of external circumstances like loud noises or stressful situations. We’re hardwired with a fight or flight reflex that lets us know when we might be in harm’s way when that reflex is triggered.
However, sometimes this reflex can be exacerbated by irrational fears or phobias. Whether it be heights, depths, animals, or crowds, a sizable percentage of the world’s population has a phobia of some sort. Even though we know these fears shouldn’t have an effect on us, they still trigger the same response as real danger.
In addition to physical fears and phobias, many of us carry a far less obvious burden: anxiety.
This sensation concerns itself more so with the future than it does the immediate threat before us. We desperately cling to control, or at the very least the illusion of it. As we try to hold on to this illusion of control, not knowing what may come next or what to prepare for can sometimes be more terrifying than any threat in the external world.
Even though these different types of fears could be keeping you from taking action, you can take action and overcome your fears! Through practice and repetition, you’ll find yourself able to train your mind and body to pinpoint your fears when they arrive in no time.
How to Do It Anyway and Take Messy Action
So now that you’ve done the hard work to identify your personal fears, what are some practical methods to put in place to propel you toward greatness? With just a few simple practices that you can easily implement in your daily life, you can lay the foundation to putting those fears to bed.
Break Out Your Journal
One outstanding way to overcome your fears is as simple as keeping a journal detailing interactions and responses throughout day-to-day life.
Transferring abstract ideas like fear and anxiety into a more tangible format on paper can aid in stripping these obstacles of their power. Not only will the mountains of fear begin to shrink, but you also give yourself the added resource of having a detailed record that you can refer back to anytime you need it.
Arm Yourself with Mindfulness
Another useful practice to defeat fear comes in the form of mindfulness. This discipline goes hand-in-hand with journaling in that it requires you gradually adopt a lifestyle of increased awareness.
The human experience is full of hills and valleys. When you inevitably find yourself on top of a hill, take a quick mental inventory and implement some healthy mindfulness. What were the tools you used to get there? What were some of the hang-ups you encountered along the way? Were you satisfied with how you navigated your fear?
By being intentional to be aware of our attitude within the calm, we can use periods of success and peace to arm ourselves for whatever storms may come our way.
Don’t Forget to Breathe!
Although it’s something we do without even a second thought, don’t underestimate the power that breathing has over your mental and physical state. When left unchecked, it can easily escalate, sometimes even leading to a full blown panic attack.
Whenever you feel those sensations of fear and anxiety creep up, recognize them, and simply take a deep breath in. Hold that breath in for just a short time and then slowly exhale. Repeat this for as long as necessary until you begin to find your center.
Not only is it a practical tool to quickly find mental clarity, but your body will begin to reach a state of physical calm also.
Create Actionable Goals
Many times, we might find ourselves more hesitant to begin pursuing a goal because we don’t know where to begin. A lot of the time this happens because we create goals that can’t actually be achieved.
If it’s not clear what you stand to gain from a venture or how you would even go about starting it, you may find yourself trapped in inaction.
To overcome this challenge, identify precisely what you desire and what the ideal result of your pursuit would be. Take stock of what your thoughts and emotions would be if you didn’t achieve this pursuit. After that? Lay out accessible and actionable steps to making progress, big or small.
Remember, baby steps forward are still steps forward.
Find a Circle Committed to Success
Just as we often become a reflection of what we consume in terms of media and resources, we also can mirror the mindset and behavior of the people we interact with.
Take stock of your immediate circle, what do you see? Are they also stuck in a fear mindset? Do they lean toward negativity and cynicism regarding their lives? It’s a battle we all fight, of course, but if you’re committed to pursuing your goals and ambition, then perhaps it’s time to make a change in your environment.
Seek out others who share a common drive and who will be there to hold you accountable. Pushing each other towards greatness and celebrating each victory, individuality, and humanity is beautiful and ultimately more effective in pushing you to new heights.
Implement an Attitude of Growth
While being surrounded by equally driven peers is certainly a benefit, you still have to manage your personal mindset.
Change is usually halted by the fear of not immediately achieving perfection. It’s this fear that often immobilizes us, but by simply letting go and adopting a more growth oriented mindset, you’ll find that what once held you back is now building you up along the way.
It doesn’t matter how messy things seem during this journey, rest assured you’re still far ahead of those who haven’t begun to try. Embrace the mess! Use them as learning opportunities and stepping stones that propel you toward the next goal. In the end you’ll find yourself wiser, more experienced, and at peace.
Step Outside to Hit the Reset Button
We are constantly surrounded by distractions like social media that can increase our fear. By putting our technology down and getting into nature, we can find immediate stress relief.
As often as you can, try to implement specific times in your schedule to be in the sunlight, take a hike through the woods, or visit a national park. Anything to get you outside and separated from the noise of the world for a moment can ultimately give you a reset that might be exactly what you need to keep moving.
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It’s Okay to Feel the Fear
It’s safe to say that we’ve all been here before. We find ourselves motivated to undertake a new hobby, job, or habit, but the fear of failure or not doing it perfectly on the first try stops us from ever taking that crucial first step.
That’s perfectly fine! Again, this just means that you’re still human. Being the wonderful person that you are means that you can bend fear to your will and make it work for you!
Try not to view potential failure as the opposite of achieving your goals. Instead, try to look ahead to the growth you’ll experience from overcoming your failures. Rewrite your definition of failure. Rather than viewing it as something that might occur if you do take that first leap, try to view it as something that can only happen if you don’t act in the first place.
Messy action trumps inaction any day of the week. What this will look like is humbly recognizing that perfection isn’t something that we’re promised. Any missteps along the way should be viewed instead through the lens of a growth mindset. By doing so we take our experience and messiness along the way and fashion it into tools to reach our goals.
Rest assured that regardless of the outcome, the sense of accomplishment and pride you achieve by simply doing is irreplaceable. Embrace the fear. Use it to your advantage, thank it for its help, and keep it in your rearview as you push ever forward. You’ve got this!
Believe in Yourself and Build Confidence
By taking mindful action in spite of fear, you can build the confidence required to take action to achieve your goals. Being mindful isn’t just about being aware of your shortcomings, it’s also a great way to implement a lifestyle of positive thinking.
This can take shape as a simple shift in focus from what you might be afraid of to the things that are within your control. Try telling yourself all the areas that you excel in that you’ve achieved success with in the past.
If you think confidently, confidence is sure to follow. Don’t underestimate the power of a positive mindset in creating a positive and fulfilled life. Awareness of your fear is an indispensable tool for taking action, but it has to be balanced by affirmation and optimism.
Try to also visualize where you’d like to be rather than where you are or who you think you are at the moment. You can set the standard as high as you’d like, but having a more forward-facing mindset helps you transform that visualization into realization.
Always remember that you become a reflection of what you consume, whether that be good or bad. Control what resources you ingest such as media, information, and entertainment. If the majority of what we take in leans toward a negative outlook, it’s only natural that our mindset will begin to reflect that as well.
Inspirational books, podcasts, and music serve as supplements to aid in the adoption of a more confident and positive mental state.
YOU Can Overcome Your Fear and Achieve Greatness
Life is messy, so it’s no question that you’ve already encountered your fair share of stressors and setbacks. But you know what? You’re still here!
You’ve succeeded in the past, and you should be confident that you will once more. We all struggle with a fear of failure, but your failure is just the normal messy steps along the way that end up weaving a beautiful tapestry of human experience.
Remember that fear isn’t the opposite of courage — it’s the source of courage. There would be nothing to be courageous for if there weren’t first something to be fearful of. So do it scared, and take those first steps toward messy action!