How many times have we heard that courage isn’t the absence of fear? Courage is instead the ability to feel the fear and take action anyway. We say we know this but once the fear takes hold, our first response is a strong desire to have it go away. So many people wait to take action until the fear goes away, or they use the sensation of fear as a reason not to do something. Often when I am working with clients on fulfilling their visions, I hear from them, “It (whatever it is) is causing me too much anxiety so I decided not to continue.”
What if the anxiety we felt around taking on new ventures and adventures was just part of the deal? What if we really knew this? To grow and stretch ourselves isn’t always comfortable and certainly isn’t easy. That’s why there is a term for it – “growing pains.”
Although we don’t like to admit it, many of us back off from our goals at the first sign of discomfort. Or we get through the first phase of discomfort and think, “Okay, that’s it. I don’t have to go through that again.” And when the next level of “growing pains” occurs, we stop. We think, “I’ve already gone through this, I’m not doing it again” or even worse we think, “Maybe this is a sign that I shouldn’t be doing this.”
One of my strategies for dealing with fear is to take the conversation out of monologue and into dialogue – to take it out of my head and share it with my trusted advisors. I have surrounded myself with people who are creating amazing things in their lives and the world and are not afraid to share the ups and downs. A small group of us meet monthly and have the freedom to ask for support and vent our frustrations. We leave feeling heard and connected. Together we know we can achieve what we could not alone.
During the writing of my book, Waiting for Jack, there were many times I considered giving up. Having never written a book before, at some of these points I wasn’t sure if the monologue I was having was the “truth.” The thoughts went something like: “Maybe I am in over my head. Maybe it’s not worth it.” And then there were the rejections. Agents who seemed interested then later said “no.” I often found myself wondering if I should quit or if it was really worth it.
I persevered and it has been the ride of my life. The ups and downs, the terror and joy have all been worth it. After all, as they say, it’s the journey not the destination that really matters.
When fear arises, the question is: are you letting it stop you from creating what you want in life or are you going in a direction that no longer aligns with your purpose? We all need to find the answer for ourselves. There is nothing wrong with deciding half-way through that we are not on the right path and choosing a new direction. But my wish for all of us is the courage to “fiercely disrupt the ordinary.” That means the ordinary in the world and our own ordinary. Be willing to get out of the comfort zone and live this one wild precious life. Follow your dreams, whatever they are and feel the fear and do it anyway!
Kristen Moeller’s first book, Waiting for Jack: Confessions of a Self-Help Junkie: How to Stop Waiting and Start Living Your Life is available now.