In the last post, I talked about false beliefs about ourselves and our lives that hold us back from pursuing our purpose. The reason these false beliefs hold so much power over us is because they are inherently intertwined with fear. What starts out as a seemingly small I’m not sure how well this will turn out, can quickly grow into paralyzing fear and self-doubt that says I’m sure I will fail so it’s not worth starting. Then your past failures will come to mind as “evidence” that your fearful thoughts are concrete truths, leading to a deeply-held false belief that you accept as the gospel truth. You may even realize all this is happening and know in your mind that your fear has grown into false beliefs, but you still find yourself living as if they were true. Every time you try to take even a small step toward change, fear crops up and tells you its not worth it. This can be a vicious cycle that goes round and round for years, causing you to give up hope altogether. I would like to offer some ideas on how you can break that cycle, get your hope back and start winning the fight against all the fear and lies. There are two fears that I would like to address.
Fear of Failure
The fear of failure when pursuing something you actually care about is probably the most obvious and common fear. You have thoughts like what if I waste my time and money and what if I fail publicly and embarrass myself/my family? These thoughts are rooted in your false beliefs and you need to confront them with truth. For example, if you’re worried about wasting time and money, have you considered what it really means to waste something? Waste implies activity with no purpose from which nothing good or productive can come. Let’s say you chase your dream for a year, spend several hours a week working on it and even put up some cash to make it all happen and at the end of that time you’re still not where you want to be and decide to scrap the whole thing. Have you really lost that time and money and not evened learned anything? I certainly hope not. You would have 12 more months of experience, knowledge, and likely some clarity. As far as embarrassment goes, can you think of anything worse than getting to the end of your life and telling your grandkids you lived a life of regret and broken dreams because you constantly let fear win? Let’s do something about it now.
Fear of success
The second type of fear I want to address is the one that creeps in once we start moving past our fear of failure. Maybe you’re starting to believe you may not fail or when you do it’s not the end of your journey. But what if you do succeed, what then? What if you have tremendous success in pursuing your purpose only to wake up one day and realize that it wasn’t your purpose after all? Maybe you lived up to expectations of someone else and traveled a path to a place you didn’t really want to be. If you’re reading this, you are probably already living that reality to some degree—with or without some level of perceived success. This is a tough fear to overcome because it’s tricky and even manages to undermine our most positive and optimistic thoughts. In order to beat this one, you have to closely examine your definition of success. That term is thrown around so loosely these days that it’s difficult to pin down. What is most important is defining the word for yourself. Look at your personality, your values, and what is most important in your life. What do you want your life to look like in 5, 10, or 50 years? How do you want to be remembered? What do you want to leave behind as your legacy for your children? Although you may come up with a definition of success today (I encourage you to actually write it down), keep in mind that it exists on a spectrum—that is, it isn’t just a checklist or a task to be completed and you can experience various elements of success over time. As a matter of fact, if you take the time to define it honestly for yourself, you can experience success today (for example, spend time writing and creating or improve my health).
I encourage you to take a few minutes (right now if possible) and write out a brief definition of success for your life. It doesn’t have to be polished and refined; it doesn’t even have to be brief. Just get some ideas on paper (or screen) and start the process. Also take a moment to write down some of your fears and follow them up with what you know is or could be true. Whenever you feel afraid of failure, look at your truth. Whenever you fear success, look at your definition and tell yourself to quit being ridiculous 🙂
*Just in case you missed it, here’s the first post in this 3-part series Part 1: Why you don’t know what you want