7 Steps to Overcoming Fear

Monday, 9 January 2012

This week I have read a lot of blog posts, tweets and comments on fear. It seems now that the novelty of the New Year has worn off, everyone is taking a good look at the resolutions they were so resolute about just last week. And they are scared. You see, the New Year brings with it the promise of new possibilities… and new pitfalls.
I, too, have found myself gripped with fear. All it took was signing up for a 30-day challenge about achieving my goals. On day 5, the ‘homework’ was to narrow my goals down to one priority, one thing I was determined to accomplish in 2012 and the tell someone close to me, someone who would be affected by my achieving my goal. That’s where fear took over. The thought of telling someone, someone who would know if I failed terrified me.
Today, I started work on a new project, a series of non-fiction eBooks about cheerleading safety and skills. Looking at a list of possible titles, it occurred to me that I happen to know a little about fear and more importantly how to overcome it. Fear is common in cheerleading. It doesn’t matter whether you are the one being thrown twelve feet in the air, or one of the ones on the ground expected to catch her. A good, safe cheerleader must not only overcome their fear, they must use it to push then towards their goals.
You would think, as a cheer coach, training athletes ages 3 to 23 to overcome their fears—of heights, of flipping, of being injured, of failure—that I’d have complete control over mine as well. Sadly, we rarely ever take our own good advice. This week, I’d like to show you how to overcome your fears. Later, I’ll show you how to use that fear to drive you. And to demonstrate, I’ll take my own advice. Honestly.

7 Steps to Overcoming Fear
1.      Get to the root of the fear. Most of what I’ve been reading lately is that people are spooked by the possibility of failing while trying to accomplish the goals they set for themselves. Look closely at your fear and decide exactly what it is that you are afraid of. It may take some time, but break it down to its most basic form.

It started as fear of failure for me. I truly believed that I was afraid to finish and submit a manuscript to Harlequin, because it might be rejected. That wasn’t it. There is nothing I hate more than wasting time. If it takes me two months to complete a novel (that, by the way, is an example of wishful thinking) and nothing comes of it, that is two months of wasted time. Yeah, I know, every rejection brings you closer to a sale and such, but I am too blinded by the wasted hours to worry about that.

2.      Freak out. That’s right. I am giving you permission to freak out. First, it will get the emotions out. Second, it will set you up for Step 3. Just don’t go overboard here. You don’t want to get buried under emotion. It is important that you are able to clear your head and look at the consequences of going after what you want.

I won’t go into detail on my freak out, but rest assured it wasn’t pretty. Sometimes I worry myself even.

3.      Think about the Best and Worst Case Scenarios. Take a deep breath and list every worst case scenario you can think of on one side of a sheet of paper. What is the worst that could happen if you try and fail? On the other side of the paper, list the best case scenarios. Now take a look at both columns. Do the best case scenarios make it worth trying?

If the answer is yes, keep going. If not, you may need to rethink your goals. My worst case list is mainly about wasted time and finding out I have no talent. My best case list is far longer and includes financial security, which I made my number one priority for 2012. No contest.

4.       Develop a ‘Plan B’. I sometimes call it an escape plan. The idea is to find an escape if you should find yourself faced with a worst case scenario.

Now, I admit, my escape plan is a little weak. Essentially I decided either way if my manuscript is rejected I will ask for detailed feedback. I will study more, write more, and incorporate any and all feedback I receive into repairing the manuscript and preparing the next. It isn’t a glamorous ‘Plan B’, but it makes me feel better about taking the initial risk.

5.      Take a second look. Make certain there is nothing else holding you back.

Unfortunately, failure does mean more to me than wasted time. I hate to admit it, but I really worry about what people think of me. Especially my friends and family back home.

6.      Go through steps 1-4 again. If you found something else standing in your way, use the steps above to come to terms with the additional fear.

I don’t want anyone to see me fail. This is why I use a pseudonym. It is also why very few of the people I interact with on a daily basis know that I write. I guess you could say secrecy is my escape plan.

7.      Dive in. Take another deep breath. Relax, knowing you have a Plan B if necessary. And jump. Take the chance.

I’m still working on this, but I have made some advances. I’ve set a schedule for writing and I have told everyone who is part of my ‘secret life of writing’ about my goals for 2012. I’ve even listed them on this blog.

I’m still doing the 30-day challenge and doing well, I might add. So, here’s my challenge to you. Tell me what is holding you back. What is the root of your fear

Let’s band together and fight the fear. Let’s make 2012 the year we achieve our goals.

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