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9 Ways To Face Up to Fear and Embrace New Opportunities

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9 Ways To Face Up to Fear and Embrace New Opportunities

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” - Nelson Mandela

If you are like me, you may have dreamt about making real changes in life. Changes in terms of work, a new relationship, having a child, buying a house or moving away from your friends and family for a new opportunity. Perhaps you dream of starting a business or taking control of your health, but then you failed to take action.

Why? Because of fear.

Many of the most exciting and desirable opportunities in life often come hand in hand with a hidden sense of fear. One that isn’t often acknowledged for fear of embarrassment. It’s the fear of change, of failure, of looking foolish in front of others. It’s not a reflection of your ability or your intelligence but rather it’s the fear of the unknown and it permeates into your dreams turning them from possibility to fantasy.

It’s totally possible to navigate fear.

It involves acknowledging it first, then taking control. You need to be an active participant in your own future. I really believe you can be in the driving seat and be confident in that role.

Here are 9 ways to help you navigate fear and take control of life:

#1 Identify the opportunity / dream

For you, it could be that you want to lose weight or run a marathon. For others, it could be starting a business or could even be to ask their girlfriend for their hand in marriage!

Establish what excites you: What have you always wanted to do? An exploration of an idea is not a commitment to it, so feel free to really note down as many things that excite you. This is a list that should really reflect your aspirations and be a barometer by which you measure possibility. We are told in life to get back in line, to accept hardship, boredom and lack of excitement as pact we made in exchange for adulthood. We are happy to inspire children, teach them to use their imaginations but we look down on that in adults as being ‘childish’, ‘foolhardy’ or ‘selfish’.

Believing in self-fulfilment and happiness is a right and one of the gifts of being human. We are not insects destined for a singular existence.

With these ideas in your pocket let’s continue to explore how you can push fear out of your life, and invite happiness and opportunity in.

#2 What’s stopping you?

Now we have our ideas and aspirations what’s stopping you from doing them? I think it really useful to write them down. Take a piece of paper in one column title it ‘ideas’, in the next column write ‘what’s stopping you or your fears’, the next column write whats the ‘worst that could happen’, and in the final column write ‘postive outcomes of the idea’.

This manual act of reviewing your idea can allow you to really see the issues stopping you from taking action. Make sure you write down whatever comes into your head. Don’t be embarrassed or a hidden concern will ultimately rear its head!

In the next steps, I outline how we can turn the final column ‘Postive Outcomes’ into a reality.

#3 Knowledge beats FEAR

Hand in hand with an opportunity often fear comes along for the ride, but often that fear comes from a lack of knowledge, the unknown. Where there are no facts, fear fills the space.

We can, instead, replace fear with knowledge.

There are times you can feel like life is generally getting you down. You may be struggling to know why this is, what the cause could be, or you could feel like you are floundering with too much to consider.

Instead, think about what your fears are. Once the fear is identified our duty should be to research the idea, through knowing the subject or options available to you-you will be better placed to predict outcomes.

i.e. Do your homework.

Let’s say you want to run a marathon. 26.2 miles is long, if you ever looked at your millage timer on your car, it’s much further than you think. When I was preparing to run my first marathon the distance seemed insurmountable. I wasn’t a very good runner at the time, I was overweight and unfit!

How can you approach this?

One thing is to ask people who’ve run one what their experience was like, how did they train? I’d buy some good books on training, I’d read something like Born to Run to inspire you. I find a marathon I’d like to run and then work backwards with regards to my training plan (being realistic). But if this is all rather daunting then seek expert advice. Through exploration, you will be able to evaluate whether this is something you want to do.

Knowledge can be attained in a number of ways through practice, through talking to someone who’s done it, reading, talking to family, sitting down with a pen and paper and working it through.

#4 Don’t Walk the Path alone

There should be no shame, what so ever, in asking for help. In fact, it’s a reflection of a humble and interested person.

Don’t get me wrong, you need to self-serve, some of any journey should be explored on your own, but don’t let stubbornness sway you from asking for help.

The best managers employ people who are better than they are because they know that a project can only be delivered when you work as a team. Businesses bring in consultants or people with specific skill sets, or areas of specialism to solve problems or deliver projects on time and on budget. I see very little benefit in attempting to reinvent the wheel.

I often to turn to my wife for advice, she sees the world slightly differently which frequently provides a valued perspective on an idea or situation.

People are a resource that should never be under-valued.

#5 Consistency beats Intensity

“I’m not talented. I’m obsessed.” Conor McGregor (UFC fighter)

Sitting around waiting for inspiration or opportunity is possibly the worst method of realising your potential.

‘Inspiration is for Amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work” Chuck Close (Artist)

In order to master your subject or attain your dreams, you need to work at it. It doesn’t have to be work that grinds you to the bone, it just has to be consistent.

Follow these 2 rules and you’ll be fine:

Turn up

#5 Consistency Beats Intensity

If you want to run that marathon or pull a deadlift pr or lose weight it means turning up, putting work in and doing it again and again. This isn’t monotony, it’s a journey to mastery. Not every work out session will be diamond, but being consistent is what makes the difference between amateur and elite.

#6 Don’t be scared to fail

Failure is not an issue for a young child. I have a young son and he falls over constantly. It doesn’t faze him, he just gets back up and tries again. He appears to take great joy in the process.

This is why failure is not a problem and is in many ways essential to success. The next step is to enjoy the process, don’t just get hung up on the end result. Often it’s not what you expect anyway and your goals could change.

Many successful people claim that you’re not truly successful until you’ve failed. Pushing the boundaries of what’s possible also expands the previous boundary. You grow as a person through failure.

Failure should be seen as a lesson. How you come back from it is what makes you.

#7 Evaluate and reflect

You’ve done your research, you’ve chosen a path and you are showing up and getting on with it. With these things in place, it’s now your duty to periodically reflect on your process and re-centre yourself if you are veering off track. This is where the advice of others can be used. If you’ve involved other people from the start they will have a vested interest in you succeeding.

Ask yourself if you are making progress? Are you serving your goals? Are you enjoying this and is it what you thought it would be?

Evaluation and reflection keep you focused determined and will deliver results faster.

#8 Should I switch idea?

Often opportunities come with great challenges and it can be easy to get downhearted. A natural reaction is to switch projects, programmes, partners!!! Is this not fear to dictate our path again? As I mentioned the process is where we develop, overcoming obstacles and dedicating ourselves to a project or person or health programme is where the value lies.

If you have lots ideas, each one will be very attractive in principle. Say you want to build your overhead press, you’ve been following one particular system for a few weeks and seen some results using dumbbells, but then you read an article in Men's Health saying ‘Bigger Shoulders in 4 Weeks!’ (this time using kettlebells). Your impatient because you want the result, you think this is going to get you the result. It may do, but chances are you won’t complete that either.

You need to buy into the process.

Yes, commit to it and, no, don’t become dogmatic. However, you need to dedicate yourself to something in order to see long term results. If you’ve done your research you should have a great system in place. Trust it, and trust the advice you’ve been given.

#9 Trust Yourself

Don't be too hard on yourself! It's not natural for me to forgive myself and my wife is constantly reminding me not to beat myself up. Adopt a kindness with yourself akin to that which you'd offer a friend you and you won't go far wrong and your feel so much better.

I know that by using these 9 rules of thumb you can see great results in anything you do.

I leave you with this thought:

“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realise that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvellously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.” - Thich Nhat Hanh

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