The one roadblock getting in the way of your goals
Children typically LOVE answering the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”
They’re asked it frequently by adults, and for good reason. This question engages their imaginations, opens up infinite possibilities, and helps inspire the beginnings of what we hope will be lifelong dreams, whatever forms they may take.
As adults, though, despite best laid plans, we often find our dreams getting truncated left and right.
While there are many reasons for this, I want to focus on one particular roadblock that crops up for most of us when thinking about our biggest, boldest lifelong goals — FEAR.
For me, there was a seemingly infinite period between when I realized I wanted to open Haven Coaching and when I actually pulled the trigger. In reality, it was less than a year, but during that time, I was absolutely paralyzed with fear.
Fear that I didn’t want to let anyone down; fear of not being able to provide for my family; fear of making a mistake; fear of, “who am I to be dreaming these big dreams?”
The reality is – these fears are near universal to all humans, especially when faced with big goals. If you’re thinking about going after a promotion, switching careers, going back to school, or any challenging goal, I bet fear is cropping up for you, too.
So what to do with this fear?
Take the advice given by Susan Jeffers, author of one of my favorite books:
Feel the fear… and do it anyway.
As a matter of fact, this quote is the title of Jeffers’ book, and the mantra she recites throughout.
In the very first chapter, Jeffers talks about the different levels of fear most of us have, and I want to go through them with you here.
The first level of fear many of us have is a set of surface fears. These can include fear of things that might happen TO us. Here are some examples:
- Getting fired
- Change in role
- Loss of financial security
- Illness, etc.
They can also include things that might require action OF us:
- Going back to school
- Losing weight
- Asserting ourselves
- Going on a job interview
- Ending a relationship, etc.
My fears around starting Haven Coaching began here — with a Level One “surface fear.” Starting Haven Coaching required some profound action of me — lots of it, all at one time — and that made me feel paralyzed.
WHY are we so scared of these things, though? Why are we so scared of the things that might happen to us, or of what we might have to do? Why not just live in the present moment and allow what happens, or what we have to do, to just BE? It’s because of what’s just beneath that surface. That’s the SECOND level of fear.
According to Jeffers, the second level of fear is fear of our egos being hurt. Examples here include fear of rejection and fear of failure.
So why was I so paralyzed with the thought of having to actually start the process of opening my own business? It’s not that opening a business bank account was hard, or that filing for an LLC license was too confusing. It’s that underneath my Level One fear was a Level Two fear — a fear of rejection and failure. I was scared that I’d fail.
Other examples resonate here too. Why might we have the surface level fear of retirement? Because of the second level fear beneath it, of the fear of loss of image, which would damage our ego. Why might we have the surface level fear of aging? Because of the second level fear beneath it, the fear of helplessness, which again would damage our ego.
There’s a third level of fear beneath this still, though, and it’s common to every single fear we have, common to every single one of us. This is the biggest fear of all, the underlying fear of everything. It is this – the fear that you can’t handle it.
It’s the fear that you can’t handle whatever is coming your way, you can’t handle whatever you have to do, you can’t handle whatever your ego will experience.
At the bottom of every one of your fears is simply the fear that you can’t handle whatever life may bring you.
Your level 1 fears have this underlying fear… so a fear of retirement is simply a fear that you can’t handle being retired. Your fear of change is simply a fear that you can’t handle change. In my case, my Level One fear of kicking off the process to start Haven Coaching was a fear that I couldn’t handle the process — or the business — at all.
Your level 2 fears, similarly, have this underlying fear. Your fear of loss of status is simply fear that you can’t HANDLE your change in status. Your fear of helplessness is simply fear that you can’t HANDLE feeling helpless. In my case, my Level Two fear of rejection and failure was a fear that I couldn’t HANDLE that feeling of rejection and failure, if it did come to pass.
Underneath it all, fear is just one thing – the idea that you won’t be able to handle whatever will happen.
But think about this – up until this point, you’ve handled EVERYTHING that has come your way.
Some things feel painful, other things feel joyful, and still others are somewhere in between. But at no point has life itself stopped. At no point have you been unable to handle it. At no point have you lacked the ability to find the help, the resources, the support, the muscle to get through to the other side. And that’s how it will be for the rest of your life, no matter what comes your way.
Remember that fear is nothing but worry that you simply can’t handle it – and pull your shoulders back, take a deep breath, and stand proud with the knowledge that you always have and always will be able to handle anything that comes your way.
Need more 1:1 guidance? Click here to schedule some time with me — I’d love to chat and help you love what you do.