“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” – Paulo Coelho
2018 continues to be a year of change. There are times when I feel more alive and inspired than ever. Then there are times when I feel overwhelmed by fear. Was leaving corporate America the right decision? Will we have enough money? Am I actually good at what I’m doing now? Will I ever be? Does anyone like my blog, my recipes, the classes I teach, etc?
Until this year, I never realized how many of my decisions and actions (or lack thereof) were dictated by fear. Sometimes it was fear of the unknown. Often it was fear of failure. Sometimes I didn’t even know what I was afraid of – I just couldn’t stop thinking, “This seems scary…maybe you shouldn’t do this after all.”
This year has been different. I’ve finally decided to fight back. Why? Because this life is worth living! Adventures are worth having! I’m forcing myself to try those “scary” things that I’ve been avoiding because they have the potential to change my life for the better.
Have you ever passed up an opportunity because you were afraid? If the answer is yes, what were you afraid of?
- Fear has stopped me from trying rock climbs that I thought were “too hard” for me (even though I really wanted to try them).
- Fear has stopped me from running faster than my usual pace.
- Fear has stopped me from leaving jobs that I knew weren’t right for me.
- Fear has stopped me from meeting interesting new people.
Now, the second question: What was I actually afraid of?
I was afraid of falling. I was afraid of failing. I was afraid of rejection.
In retrospect, I realize that none of these fears have truly serious consequences. My likelihood of getting physically injured is relatively low. My likelihood of failing or getting rejected is totally unpredictable. But if I do fail…who cares? Failure and rejection might hurt my ego, but they don’t have to hurt my spirit.
As I’ve grown to accept this reality, a whole new world of opportunities and possibilities has opened up before me. In the months since I started really working to overcome my fears, I changed careers. I finished my first Ironman. I tried new rock climbs that I wouldn’t have had the guts to attempt before. I’m signing up for a 4-day, 200-mile trail race with Tyler. I’m taking on new challenges and trying things I’ve never done before.
I may fail, or I may succeed. Either way, I want to live life as a force to be reckoned with – not as a shadow, just trying to get through life without ruffling too many feathers or taking too many risks.
Even after writing this post and reflecting on its meaning, fear stopped me in my tracks just two days later. I backed down from trying new rock climbs that looked “too hard” or “too scary.” I avoided trying them because I didn’t want to fail. The entire time, a voice in the back of my head shouted, “You just wrote about this! How can you not even try after you just preached the importance of overcoming fear?!”
It’s a work in progress, I suppose! The fact that I recognize my aversion to failure and I can use it as motivation is a step in the right direction. We’ll see what happens next time!
You deserve to live a full life too, guided by passion – not by fear. In honor of that sentiment, here are some inspiring words to lean on when doubt or worry challenge your resolve!
“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.” – Henry Ford
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela
“The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome. He knows there is no such thing as a fearless warrior or a dread-free artist.” – Steven Pressfield
“Many times, the thought of fear itself is greater than what it is we fear.” – Idowu Koyenikan
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide
“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Now it’s your job to take control. Go forth and conquer!