Fear of the Unknown.
“Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.”- Japanese Proverb
Many people refrain from doing things out of fear of all the potential bad things that might happen. That fear paralyses people and they never make an attempt to start something that might have been the best thing to ever happen in their lives. By never attempting these things you can never find out if they might end well. Possibly even brilliant. That rock bottom is never inevitable.
Fear, by definition, is an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm. Sometimes humiliation or rejection or even simple failure may seem incredibly painful, but really, it’s all imagined anyway. Taking a leap of faith in order to jumpstart something important for your life and your career isn’t actually a danger to you; it’s just nerve-wracking. And that can be a good thing.
Changing Your Mindset.
“Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears.” – Rudyard Kipling
In typical “just do it” type situations, the advice is to set goals, practise positive thinking, and visualise your success. While this is a healthy practice, it doesn’t usually give you that push to jump into the unknown. It’s more beneficial to use this as a tool once you have already started working towards your goals and want to improve on them. A way to push you to meet your goals is stoicism: a philosophy designed to increase your wisdom and happiness.
Stoicism is about separating the things you can control from the things you can’t and then making sure you focus only on those you can control. It improves your emotional reaction to difficult and unexpected circumstances. It’s highly popular among professional athletes, political leaders, and CEOs; they know that letting things you can’t control overwhelm you is the best way to never get over that anxiety.
Well-known stoic Tim Ferriss, author and entrepreneur, has talked about fear setting being one of the most useful tools for getting started in the leap towards starting something new. While he did not create fear setting as a tool, he has been at the forefront of its recent rise into popularity since making this TED Talk.
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” – Joseph Campbell
In the simplest way, fear setting is a three and a half-step process for helping you recognise and understand your fears and know how to overcome the worst of that fear.
The first step is to visualise the worst possible outcome of the scary thing you are considering doing. Visualise it in detail. This is known as the stoic premeditatio malorum, the premeditation of evils. List about 10-20 things that could go tremendously wrong. For example, you might get into debt. Or you might not succeed in your goals.
The second step is to create a thorough plan on avoiding all these worst-case scenarios, or at least decrease their severity. Once you are aware of your fears, you can work out preventative actions to take, so you can handle issues. Like making sure that you make financially practical decisions whenever money is involved. Or making full plans of every step towards the final goal that must be reached before you will succeed.
Step three is to create a plan on how to repair things should the worst actually happen. Your prevention plan didn’t work out, but that doesn’t mean the end of it all. Plan how you can make things better if your worst fears do come true. Talk to an accountant about your money hardships. Make different goals that you have already somewhat met in the first go. As long as you have a way to either prevent things from going wrong in the first place, or remedy things that actually do go wrong, your fears shouldn’t seem as impenetrable and you should feel that you can hurdle them.
The final half step of fear setting is simple. What might you miss out on if you never take a chance on your goals? You will miss out doing something you will thoroughly enjoy. You will never know if you could have achieved what you wanted to. You will never know if you might have actually been able to do it, if you never try.
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”- Jack Canfield.
Fear could be stopping you from meeting your full potential, and you shouldn’t let it. It’s all in your head anyway, and so very unlikely to happen the way you imagine it to. With all the benefits that come from taking a leap of faith and trusting that you can and will succeed everything you put your heart into you might as well try it.