How to use fear before it uses you
Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear that we’re just not enough — fear is a common current that runs through all of our lives. And if we let it, fear can keep us locked up in the prison of the comfortable and predictable.
But there is also a way that fear can serve a valuable purpose, helping us break through the frustration to achieve the life we truly desire. That’s right — if you allow it to, fear can become your ultimate motivator.
In your mind, if you have no choice but to succeed — if achieving your goal is an absolute must — then nothing else matters. Sacrifices won’t even be a question. Excuses go out the window. You’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen. Period.
This is how some of the most successful people leverage fear in their lives. Rather than allowing fear to creep in and suck the life right out of their dreams, the know that the real fear is the price they will pay if they don’t give their goals and visions every ounce of energy and focus they have. They know the real fear is living a life where they have settled or compromised on what they really wanted.
How do you adopt that mindset and perspective? How do you live a life where fear becomes your ally, not your enemy?
Here are 5 tips to stop letting fear control your happiness and to start leveraging fear to your advantage:
1. DETERMINE IF YOUR GOAL IS A “MUST”
Ask yourself what it will cost you if you do not push past your fear. This will help you discover whether or not achieving a specific goal is a “must” and not just a “should.”
Sound confusing? Try imagining yourself when you are 80 years old, nearing the end of your life. You are sitting in your rocking chair, reflecting on how you lived your life. Now, look back on your life as if you had not achieved the goal you are after at this moment in your life. How has this affected the course of your life? What are your regrets? What do you wish you had made more time for? What do you wish you had tried? Is there sadness and regret? Are you wondering, “what if…?”
2. RECOGNIZE THE EXCUSES
It’s easy to push our hopes, desires and dreams aside. We make excuses: there’s just not enough time, I don’t have the money or the resources, I have a family, I’m just too busy. And we start to hide behind those excuses. Because they’re comforting. They’re safe. But excuses will also bring you back to exactly where you started. So remember that the next time an excuse floats into your mind. By becoming more cognizant of your brain’s proclivity for using excuses so you won’t be held accountable, the better you will become at dismissing them.
3. ADOPT A GROWTH MINDSET
People often give up on what they want because they believe that reaching their goal is beyond their abilities. But the most successful people foster a growth mindset. They don’t think of their abilities as fixed, but rather as flexible. And when faced with a setback, they try harder. They adopt a new strategy. They keep seeking a solution.
4. PAIN BRINGS VALUABLE INSIGHT
The most painful experiences can help refine what you want, and what you don’t want in life. Failure, disappointment, dead-ends — these can all be used as a means of reflecting and saying, “this didn’t work. It wasn’t the right fit. So what do I really want?” Remember, we are built to adapt. So embrace this strength and use each experience as a tool to help you learn more about yourself and what you really must have in life.
5. KNOW THAT FAILURE IS INEVITABLE
You will fail. It’s just part of the process. Any successful person will tell you that. But failure offers insights and inherently corrects the faulty ways of approaching a problem. There is no teacher as impactful as the sting of failure. And no lesson in resilience better than the burn of rejection. But if you use these experiences as unique information, and adjust your strategy and approach the next time around, you will have an advantage that no one else does.
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