How To Make Progress On Goals When You’re Scared
Has fear ever stopped you from following a musical passion, pursuing an interest, or trying something new? Pursuing goals when you’re scared, for whatever reason, can stop you before you even start. Maybe you don’t know the root cause of the fear, maybe you do, but either way, that doesn’t mean you should be held back by them? Instead, finding a way to take small steps forward, despite your fear, might be all you need to make progress on your goals?
From A Fear Of Writing To Starting A Blog
For as long as I can remember I’ve had a strong desire to communicate ideas and stories. So far, communication through composing music has been my go-to format, which I love, don’t get me wrong. Deep down though, I’ve always wanted to be able to write or verbalise my ideas and to speak with clarity and purpose.
Problem is, I’ve always had a firmly held belief that I’m no good at writing. That I just sucked at it! And because of this belief, I developed a paralysing fear of the opinions of others. Of being judged negatively or ridiculed in some way.
My upbringing and experiences shaped my core beliefs and created these limiting beliefs. And whenever I put pen to paper the perfectionist in me would think this is terrible, it’s so unoriginal, it’s ordinary, I’ll never be as good as XYZ, people will laugh at me, people will think I’m ridiculous.
So for years I avoided it and made choices in my life based around NOT having to write. I decided writing was just not an option for me and many times I walked away from pursuing passions and opportunities. The fear I had associated with writing was seriously crippling.
So what changed?
That is, the fear is still here. In fact, right now there’s a whole lot of negative thoughts going through my mind, telling me I’m no good, and that what I have to say is pointless.
And you know what, maybe that’s all true. The difference is now I’m just doing it anyway.
5 Simple Ways To Start Taking Action Despite Our Fears
#1. Rethink The Conquering Fear Mindset
Much has been said about conquering, defeating, killing fear in order to move past it and make progress on your goals. But I don’t actually believe you need to get rid of fear.
I mean, can anyone ever really get rid of fears they’ve had probably since childhood? These fears are intrinsically linked to our personality. We are all made up, in part, of our fears.
Remove the burden of needing to take on such a monumental task and instead, change the relationship you have with fear.
#2. Accept Fear, Take Action Anyway
There’s a far simpler solution than to take on fear with destruction in mind. And that’s to simply accept the fear. Look at it, identify it (if you can) and then say to yourself, I’m just doing it anyway.
Courage doesn’t mean we are never afraid, courage is simply daring to take action, despite our fear. Ruth Soukup – Do It Scared
When you’re really clear on what your goals are and why you want to pursue them, your ability to act alongside fear will surprise you. That’s why taking the time to understand the deeper WHY of your goal is such an important process, but we won’t get into that here.
Once you take that first brave action taking step alongside fear you need to do it again and again and again. Taking action whilst being afraid is a muscle that needs to be continually worked in order for it to grow strong. Without repeated action, your primal fear responses will always dominate.
#3. Accept Discomfort
When you get to work taking these small steps forward alongside your fear it’s going to be uncomfortable. You’ll doubt yourself, you’ll get scared, you’ll try to back away, and you’ll be flooded with thoughts of all the negative consequences.
For me starting this blog is the pinnacle of my writing journey so far. And I have never felt more uncomfortable. But we truly can’t have any success in our lives without first experiencing some form of discomfort, right?
Practising and studying music for hours and hours and years and years is uncomfortable, starting new students is uncomfortable, playing your compositions to friends or strangers is uncomfortable, performing in front of others is uncomfortable. These are all things we do that are uncomfortable, at first, until we do it enough times and it becomes a little easier.
Really, discomfort is necessary for any kind of success in life. It’s just part of the deal.
#4. Think Big, Act Small.
If deciding to act even when we’re afraid is how we make progress on our goals, then we need to have a game plan, to point our actions in the right direction. These are our goal-setting strategies.
Having a plan for action can help you feel less afraid to pursue your passion.
It’s great to think big when it comes to goal setting. Big goals help to invigorate, motivate and inspire us. We’re talking, your dreams, your ultimate desires.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking about HOW you’re going to get there though. That may just bring up a slew of other fears and anxieties.
Instead, act through small regular bites at the goal.
Focus on the systems, routines, and habits, that you can set up and maintain to help you work up to something over time.
To break through the initial wall of self-doubt I started writing in small doses. Bits of this and bits of that. I started journaling regularly and committing to writing down any ideas I had (instead of just keeping them in my head).
Through the process of setting up my studio business, I found I had many more opportunities to write. Website copy, marketing materials, email sequences, lesson plans. I struggled constantly with self-doubt but instead of throwing in the towel, I invested time into researching copy-writing and in reworking the stuff I had already written. I rewrote my entire studio website copy 3 times, no joke.
The point is, through concentrating more on output quantity, rather than output quality, I gradually became better at pushing past the limiting thoughts.
#5. Include Accountability And Consistency
It’s essential to commit to some form of regular practice (no matter how small) and add some form of accountability to really help it stick. Writing a regular blog article is my way of ensuring I commit to consistent practice. I’m accountable to my readers so I need to show up or I’ll lose them. I also feel a strong sense of accountability to myself. I don’t want to let myself down.
Accountability feels different for everyone though, so think about ways to become accountable for your own action taking steps. How will it work best for you?
When you’re able to look at fear in the face and say – ok there you are, I see you, it’s going to be uncomfortable but how about we work together on this – you’ll set up a foundation of acceptance in your mind, acceptance of who you really are. Which, to be honest, is way less stressful.
There’s no need to fight fear, to resist, or try to change who you are.
Being in a place of acceptance of fear and taking action anyway might just lead you to a more fulfilling outcome.
What’s holding YOU back?
Do you have fears preventing you from achieving your piano teaching, creative or business goals?
How can you start making progress in spite of your fears?