Doing it Scared: The Secret to a Fulfilling Life

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Guess what?  Everyone is afraid of something!

Even the most confident of folks out there battle their internal fears.  Most people, give into those fears and let them decide their actions for them.  But, for those that appear to be fearless, they aren’t:  they just feel the fear and do it scared.

Fear can come from many sources, but when it comes to going for what you want in life, the most common cause of fear is the unknown.  If you don’t know what’s going to happen or you’re entering into unchartered territories, it’s going to feel scary.

A close cousin of the unknown, when it comes to fueling fear, is insecurities:  What if I can’t do it? What will others think of me?  What if I fail?  What if I look like an idiot?

The common denominator in everything that scares you is what I call a fear story - the picture you paint of what will happen if your worst fears come true.  You create this elaborate story in your mind, believe it, then fail to act on your desires because you think that will be the outcome.

Some people allow their fears, doubts, and insecurities to dictate their life.  They refuse to step beyond what feels comfortable and safe.

But, to find happiness and reach your dreams you have to be willing to feel that fear and do it anyway.  Doing it scared doesn’t guarantee you will or will not fail.  

Doing it scared allows you to push ahead to reach your goals in spite of all of your concerns.

You owe it to yourself and your life to see how strong you are and to do it anyway, even when you’re scared out of your mind!

 

WHY YOU NEED TO DO IT SCARED

Doing it scared has SO many benefits and rarely does it come with any regrets.  Remember, most of what you imagine will happen never comes to fruition. Even if you don’t succeed, it’s never as bad as you think it will be.

Everything you do in life is a lesson - an opportunity to learn more about yourself, life, and others.  Each life lesson is a gift that gives you the chance to see your shortcomings so that you can improve.  Skills that need more refining are brought to your attention, not for you to judge yourself, but for you to focus on those areas and build them out.  

Engaging in life also allows you to witness how others act and respond to different situations to better understand human behavior and, more importantly, your response so you can learn to be less reactive and more proactive.

When you try something and it doesn’t go as planned, it’s a gift that allows you to learn and improve.

Failing isn’t trying something and not achieving your objective.  Failing is never trying, and when you lean into your fears and opt for the safe route, you are failing yourself over and over.

So, the benefits of doing it scared, include:

  • You get unstuck and get out of a rut when you break up with your safe routine

  • You build your confidence because you prove your fears wrong and see how capable you truly are

  • You conquer your fears instead of your fears conquering you

  • You open yourself to new opportunities and new experiences

  • You grow and expand


 

WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE TO TO IT SCARED

Over the course of my life,  I've experienced times where I faced my fears and pushed through them. I’ve also settled into routines and enjoyed the comfort of making the safe choices.  But, when I evaluate it all, the most significant growths I’ve experienced all came from the times I did it scared.  

The years where I settled into my routine and played it safe don’t yield that many memories because every day, every week, every month, and every year were kinda the same (which makes me a little sad at what I allowed myself to miss!).  

Just to give you a few examples of when I've done it scared…

  • When I was 18, I started college and didn’t know a soul.  I remember walking across campus that first day terrified.  I didn’t know where I was going, I didn’t know what to expect, and I didn’t even feel like I fit in, but I did it anyway.

  • When I was 23, college degree in hand, I packed everything I owned into my tiny Honda Civic and moved 800 miles away from the only home I’d ever known to start my new job.  I went from the Atlanta suburbs to the suburbs of New York City.  Before that, I’d only been out of the Southeast twice (both times for job interviews, so short trips).  I was petrified.  I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing, I wondered how I’d make it completely and totally on my own, and I wondered if I’d hate my new job.  But, despite all of that, I did it anyway.

  • When I was 32 years old, I confirmed my suspicions that my husband of two years was cheating with an ex-girlfriend.  I decided to divorce him and move on with my life.  I was scared I was making the wrong choice, scared I’d never find someone else, but I did it anyway.

  • When I was 27, I enrolled at the New York School of Interior Design on the Upper East side of New York City.  It was a lot of money (of which I didn’t have that much!), and it meant going into the city from the ‘burbs multiple times a week.  What if wasted all that money?  What if couldn’t keep up with school and my job?  What if I failed?  But, I ignored all of that and did it anyway.

  • When I was 39, I decided to go back to school (again!) and enrolled in coaching school.  As I drove up to Boston to attend the first training weekend, I was nervous and terrified.  What if I made a fool of myself, what if everyone thought I was a loser...but, I did it anyway.

These are a sampling of the various times I faced a new path, felt terrified, and did it anyway.  From every single one of these experiences, I grew and became a better person.  I didn’t fail, I didn’t screw up, I made new friends, and loved life a little more. Oh, and all those fear stories I skillfully created in my mind - NONE of them came true!


 

HOW TO DO IT SCARED

So, are you ready to try doing it scared?  Here are my top suggestions for how you can face your fears and do it anyway:

  • Get comfortable being scared:  Being scared isn’t a fun feeling, so it’s no surprise that a lot of people try to avoid it.  To be strong and take charge of your life and your future, you’re going to have to get comfortable being scared.

  • Get comfortable being uncomfortable:  Doing things for the first time or that scare you will make you feel uncomfortable.  Get comfortable with that feeling because it’s through discomfort that we grow our tallest and strongest.

  • Challenge your beliefs/fears:  Just because you believe you can’t do something or you’re not good enough doesn’t make it true.  Every time you catch yourself saying that you can’t or shouldn’t or whatever excuse you come up with - challenge it.

  • Write a different story:  As I mentioned before, everyone spins their own fear stories, and they believe every word of it.  You know what’s equally as likely to happen as your worst-case scenario story?  Your best-case scenario story.  So...write that story and believe that one, not the fear based one.

  • Detach from the fear:  I’m not going to tell you to stop feeling fear.  That’s not possible.  But, what I will suggest is to detach yourself from the outcome of that fear:  feel it, see it, analyze it, but don’t buy into the story the fear is trying to have you believe.

  • Remind yourself of past fears you’ve conquered:  Even if you are the most risk-averse, fear-following person out there, I know you have faced and overcome fears in the past.  Dig it up, remind yourself that you achieved it and it didn’t kill you and feel that boost of confidence.  If you’ve done it before, why can’t you do it again?

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Life is meant to be lived.  If you’re allowing your fears and doubts to make decisions for you, are you really living a fulfilling and meaningful life?

Aren’t you tired of wishing you could do more, or be someone different?  Step into those fears, embrace them, and do it anyway.

Your life is waiting for you to get started.