“I really want to start my own business,” my friend relayed to me, “but I haven’t done it because I’m petrified!” That sentiment is very common. Fear is a powerful human emotion in women’s lives. It holds many of us back from doing the things we want to do or ever realizing our full potential.
But the truth is that fear is always going to be part of the equation when you stretch yourself or try something new. And the bigger the goal, the bigger the fear. I like to think of it as “growing pains.” So instead of backing away from it, here are five ways to move forward in spite of fear.
1. Befriend your fear.
Knowing that fear is a necessary part of growth, welcome it into your world. Rather than waiting for it to abate before moving forward (because that won’t happen), grab it by the hand and take it with you. Let its energy propel you forward rather than hold you back.
2. Just do it.
The longer you delay doing something that you fear, the larger and more ominous that fear, and the first step in facing it, will become. Most things, once done, are never as bad as they seemed beforehand. It's best to put them behind you as soon as possible.
Plus, you only have to do something for the first time once. Everyone has to start somewhere. The important thing is to take that first step, whatever it is, no matter how small (or how scary).
3. Seek support.
Fear and self-doubt flourish in isolation, so don’t try to face it alone. Find those who will support and encourage you. This could be someone already doing the thing you want to do—a friend or family member who wants you to succeed—or even a support group or counselor.
In my friend’s case, she started attending meetings of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). When there’s something you want to do, it makes sense to rub elbows with those successfully doing that thing.
4. Focus on the journey.
Often we don't pursue our dreams because we fear failure, we fear success, we fear the unknown, or we fear looking foolish. But the real power is in the act of facing our fear, not in the outcome. We learn and grow from every experience.
5. Accentuate the positive.
As humans, we sometimes have a natural negativity bias. That means we have to work every day to see things through a more positive lens. So how can you do that? Make gratitude lists, write down your strengths and positive attributes, read inspirational materials, and hang out with people who are upbeat, positive, and motivated. Seek them out and connect!
So the next time fear comes knocking (or banging) on the door, just invite it in. Embrace it like an old friend and let it propel you forward rather than hold you back. You might just find yourself making more progress than you thought possible.