When she turned 3, my daughter became a timid child. She used to avoid adults so that she didn’t have to talk to them. On the playground, she’d wait for all children to leave the slide she wanted to get on – and then slide down on her own. I didn’t want to put any pressure on her. And although I defended her personality from everyone who tried to tell her how she should behave, I have to confess that I was a bit preoccupied.
So when her teacher told me that she had only heard my girl’s voice while playing with other kids, I realized I had to act. So I bought her a beautiful glittery little notepad and lots of star stickers and created a point system: She would get a star on her notepad every time she spoke to an adult – either to say thank you, good-bye or to order more fries. Anything which would get her to raise her voice enough for an adult to hear what she was saying. And whenever she got 20 stars, we’d go to the movies or to an event for children. I’m happy to say that I had to upraise that 20 to 30 stars very soon – or I’d have ended up broke 😀
That such motivation – the movies – and competition – the stickers’ point system – work isn’t new. And if we combine that with extremely positive praise, the success is served. But what I found myself repeating over and over again was how brave she was. Not because her fear was gone all at once. Nope. Her fear was still there – and yet, she overcame it to get what she wanted. And that’s what being brave means.
So maybe the question isn’t how you can stop being afraid, but how you can start acting – even though you’re afraid.
Don’t Fight Your Fears, Do It Scared
I know, I know it isn’t easy. But your mindset is the first – or maybe only – thing you have to change. Let’s try something: Take a notepad and a pen and write an answer to these questions:
- What is that thing you’d love to do but you’re afraid of? Is it changing careers? Quitting your job and start something on your own? Leaving everything behind and move abroad to discover new places while working on your laptop? Take your time to think about it and write it down.
- Now, try to figure out what’s stopping you from doing it? What are you afraid of? Is it a founded fear? Write down what’s the worst that could happen if you tried.
- Be completely honest to yourself and figure out whether what you’re afraid of is feeling like a failure. Are you terrified at the thought that you could fail? Of what others would think?
- If that’s the case, think about this for a minute: Are you really gonna let others decide how you should live? Or even worse – They may not even care about it! Is it possible that it’s all in your head? Remember: It’s better to make failures than not try, stay the same and then, regret you didn’t try.
- Making failures is the best – and quickest – way to learn. Once you fail at something, you can bet that you’re going to change things sooner than not. So if you’re afraid of starting a business of your own, you’d better fail at the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey. You’ll be able to pivot more easily and nobody will really notice! Especially if you’re starting an online business!
- All successful entrepreneurs who have failed motivate others to try and make failures if necessary – just like they did. Do you know Michael Jordan’s famous quote about failure? He says:
- “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that’s why I succeed.”
- Don’t you think there’s some truth in his words? Don’t you think he felt defeated every single time he missed a shot? So why is he such a great basket player now – Is it because he stopped playing out of fear of failing? Or because he kept trying?
If You Need More Help to Overcome Your Fears:
- Work actively at staying motivated: Look for inspirational books, motivational podcasts and energizing conferences which make you feel ready to undertake no matter what you’ve set your mind to achieve.
- Listen to inspirational people every time you get the chance! I do it while doing the dishes, when I’m driving or when I’m training. My hubby makes fun of me, but I feel energized!
- Meet people who pump you up. Join meetups with like-minded people, or join online communities which can help you grow and overcome your fears.
Getting Started – In Spite of Your Fears
We all know most of our fears are irrational and mostly unfounded. But our mind tells us the opposite to keep us safe – in that “comfort zone” everybody seems to be talking about. So why don’t you try and tell your mind to be quiet for a while? She’s going to remind you that you didn’t try, and you don’t want to regret it, right?
And if you feel that you need a reward to keep you accountable, figure out what feels rewarding to you, and create a point system – just like my girl’s notepad and stickers 😉