Five Ways To Overcome The Fear Of Chasing Your Dream By Steven Berglas
The only thing to fear is fear itself. That’s easy for folks who say these sorts of things: They’ve made it. That’s why they’re quoted.
You haven’t made it yet. But you know there’s something in you that’s bigger than your cubicle, your office, your house. You know your idea is good and your vision clear. But you can’t muster the courage to chase the dream.
Maybe you can’t get past what feels like a perfectly rational concern about abandoning a paycheck—the link between you and neat things like food and rent.
Maybe you tried once before but were thwarted, discouraged, bankrupted, embarrassed. Maybe you don’t think you have the stuff to make your dreams come true. And maybe you don’t.
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But that’s what taking risks is all about. And that’s why many who do end up reaping such grand rewards. For inspiration from real risk-takers who swallowed hard and prospered, see the slide show below.
In Pictures: 39 Entrepreneurs, Executives, Celebrities, Athletes And Politicians Share The Greatest Risks They Ever Took
Truth? Paychecks, three squares a day, a roof over your head and a bullet-proof ego are all very nice. But security is an illusion, and it enslaves even the best and brightest.
I’ve worked with scores of entrepreneurs and executives who had trapped themselves in mental cages. The same sorts of “cognitive errors” corrupt all of our risk-reward calculations—no matter who you are, how big the risk or how badly you’d like to take it.
Here are five reminders that will keep your dreams front, center and alive. (Not looking to start a business? Not to worry: These will help you anyway.)
Your fear of taking action is a result of watching yourself fail to act–not the other way around.
People assume that emotions initiate behavior–we see a tiger, tell ourselves we fear it, and then run. Nope. The well-documented James-Lange theory of emotion demonstrates that things are the other way around. We see a tiger, run like hell, notice our heart rate leap to 160 beats per minute, and then conclude we’re terrified.
The single best way to boost courage? Take baby steps toward realizing the goal every chance you get. When steps become strides you’ll realize how courageous you are.
Your fear of losing a paycheck is exaggerated.
Psychologists have demonstrated that most phobias are not as threatening as we imagine. So why the terror? It comes from the cognitive error known as Black-or-White thinking: seeing things in all-or-nothing terms.
Example: If you give up a steady income you’ll be impoverished, right? Wrong. If you challenge every black-or-white assumption you make, you’ll find a middle ground that can relieve dread. Paying bills is tougher without a steady income, but that’s what loans, temp work, and other adaptations are for.
I suggest addressing the issue of financial need before you start amplifying your courage: List all the ways you can cover your bills with short-term tactics. Your range of options will shock you.
Your fear of launching a start-up stems from knowing someone whose new venture fell flatter than a crepe.
For some reason, when humans are anxious or depressed we tend to focus on negative aspects of the world and ignore everything else. Not only does this darken our mood, it blocks us from moving in a positive direction. To combat this cognitive error, accentuate the positive.
Count up the number of people who have praised your idea. Remind yourself of every time you exceeded expectations (go back to Little League, if you have to). Once you start looking at donuts and ignoring the holes, you will amass a list of positive outcomes that you can then convert into favorable attributes.
You won’t sacrifice a paycheck because it would be “wrong, reckless, irresponsible, etc.”
One of the more common cognitive errors is a psychodynamic conflict first described by famed neo-Freudian analyst Karen Horney: It’s called The tyranny of shoulds. Dr. Horney pointed out that many of us are stuck in ruts because we tell ourselves we “should” (or “should not”) do something, but this self-recrimination is just plain wrong. Classic example: “I should never doubt myself.”
According to that admonition, the simple act of being cautious and planning ahead, according to the tyranny of shoulds, is in violation of a mental law you carry around. As a result you denigrate yourself (“I’m such a coward”) but don’t make progress.
To escape from this trap, simply ask yourself “Why?” each time you say you should or shouldn’t. It’s hard to not laugh at yourself when the only answer you come up with is “because”, delivered in the voice of an obstinate child. If you challenge the tyranny of shoulds it won’t take long to see them for what they are: Vestigial remnants of when you wore short pants. That awareness should free you to begin moving inexorably toward your goal.
No one daydreams while watching a Super Bowl game that goes into the fourth quarter with the score tied.
If you constantly dream of launching a business while working your steady job, what does that tell you about the gig? We only dream of greener pastures when the garden we’re in is full of weeds.
If you have fantasies of getting out of a rut, you will, in one of two ways: engaging in self-sabotage until you get fired, or conquering your fears and launching the business of your dreams.
So what’ll it be?
Self Assessment: Measure Your Entrepreneurial Instincts