Category Archives: Fear
The path starts looking a lot less clear, and we start to doubt ourselves. Who are we to lead this Good? What if there is someone out there already doing a better job? Where will all this effort and belief lead us? And what about the mortgage payments in the meantime?
Sometimes, we even start to think about other paths that lead us away from our Good Works. Even though we know in our hearts that we’re meant for bigger things, we choose to put our energy into looking for safer, more traditional ways of making a living. Ways that are easier to explain to people, ways that feel secure, easy, and more paved.
We all feel this way sometimes, Do Gooders! Every single one of us. Even those fancy-schmancy Do-Gooders who seem to have it all worked out. Even those folks who you admire the most. All of us feel fear and worry about screwing it all up, of not making the money we need to live, of not having anyone show up to our shindigs and teleclasses. (Even me!)
The bad news is, it’s part of the journey and part of the job of leading people into a better world to feel this way sometimes. Avoiding it is impossible. The good news is, if you’re feeling this way, you know you’re in good company and that you’re on the right path to doing real true Good.
When you feel this way, it is not the time to give up. It’s not a “sign” that you aren’t meant to do your Good Works. Not even close! No, you mustn’t believe those thoughts that equate fear, uncertainty and doubt with the thought of “I cannot…” Because you CAN. Of course you can. Others with much less than you have made it, so you can, too.
Know that you aren’t alone.
Know that the world has waited for the things only you can bring us. Only the message you can share, or the way that you can share it.
Know that you can do this.
And know that I believe in you! And I am one of many who only want to see a spark in you, a whisper of the leader you are so that we can join your cause and fly the flag of change, peace, love, or whatever your message is – out into the world with you.
So no giving up, Do Gooders. One step, then the next. This path will take you to places you cannot imagine, and all you need do is to keep walking forward and trust that the Good you do matters. Every little ounce of it!
The last couple of weeks, I’ve been writing about the psychology of change and how we can use this to understand ourselves and build our businesses as we change and grow into full fledged Do-Gooders.
When you are facing any kind of change in your life, you’ll experience several different phases of emotion. And because our emotions have such an impact on our work (we are heart-driven people, after all!), they will naturally impact on our ability to get things moving in our businesses.
The Change Curve (graph below) can help you understand why there are times when suddenly building your new life as a self-employed Do-Gooder feels hard and slow, and why sometimes it all suddenly comes much more easily to you. As we implement changes and begin to really understand them, our motivation and ability to perform at top levels increases. But your emotions and where you are on the Change Curve also can make you feel stuck if you don’t have the tools to move past them into the later phases of Change.
Today I want to focus on how to get yourself moving through Phase 3 – Resistance/Anger and Phase 4 – Letting Go.
It’s totally normal to start feeling some pretty negative emotions once you realize that big changes are needed in your life. We experience frustration with ourselves for letting things go on for so long without taking action. We start beating ourselves up for not noticing the signs earlier. And we get angry that it seems to come so easily to other people. It’s all just unfair and annoying! In Phase 3, this resistance and anger feels very strong, and sometimes, even overwhelming. Your motivation takes a serious dip during this phase and the next one. It feels like you’re stuck, like there isn’t any hope, like things are worse than they’ve ever been.
This is the point at which some people really do get stuck. It feels so bad that instead of pushing through it and moving forward, they go back to the earlier phases of change like denial. It was all so much better then! They start wondering if maybe it isn’t all so bad to just stay the same. For people questioning self-employment, questions about security, finances, health insurance, and even missing the commute (!) start to emerge. Our self doubts start shouting at us, “Who do you think you are? You’re not nearly good enough/smart enough/etc. to do this!” So we go back to denial, where it’s easy to pretend that everything is okay again.
But this is not how we serve the world and live the lives we were meant to live. If we allow ourselves to give up at this point, we rob the world of our gifts, and we live small lives of unfulfilled potential. Tragedy!
Pushing through Phase 4: Letting Go is sometimes tricky. This is when you really need to make sure you have great supporters, inspiration and people around you that won’t let you quit. Letting go is a scary part of change, but in order to really make things different you must let go and get ready for new things in your life. Making space for new ideas, creativity and even money is a necessary part of this journey. But this takes extraordinary courage sometimes, and it also means you have to learn to trust yourself, quiet those doubtful voices, and take a big leap of faith. (Remember, courage isn’t about not being afraid. It’s about doing what you have to do regardless of being afraid!)
Here are some tips for moving through these two tricky phases so you can start to see and feel the good stuff on the other side:
- Talk it through. Seriously, you need a coach, a mentor or someone who just oozes positivity to help you really expose those negative self doubts. They can’t live in the light, so once you put them out there, the majority of them will just evaporate!
- Keep focused on your Vision. You need to learn how to inspire yourself through the fear and worry about the future. This is going to be a key leadership skill when you are leading your movement and changing the world! Might as well start practicing it now. Get really, really, REALLY clear on what you want from your life and then hang onto that Vision as tightly as you can.
- Stop trying to plan it all out. You can’t possibly know everything that is going to happen to you on this journey. If you spend too much time trying to think about it, you’ll get completely wound up tight into your own head. All that planning stuff will be important, but right now, you need to let your heart lead you!
- Take baby steps. Even the smallest action to move you an inch closer to your Vision is enough during these phases. Be kind and gentle on yourself and allow yourself the time to just inch along for a little while until it starts to feel better to take big leaps. Do what feels somewhat safe right now, but what will move your in the direction you want to go instead of allowing yourself to go back into the safety of denial (which is just an illusion of safety anyway!)
If you can give yourself permission to work through this dip in the change curve, you’ll be less likely to panic and run backwards into your old life. The new one is there, waiting for you! Just keep marching forward bit by bit, and soon it will feel so much better!
Next week, we’ll continue our change curve journey and I’ll talk more about how it will feel and what you can look like when you start going back up that curve. (Spoiler alert! It’s awesome!!)
It’s a bit like the process that happens when someone close to you passes away. There are defined stages that people experience, and depending what stage you’re in, you’ll be more or less open to making big changes in your behaviors that will bring a change in your life.
Lots of people are ready for things to change around them. (Or so they think!) Pay attention to people around you over the next few days and I’ll bet you’ll hear people say things like:
- This just isn’t right. Someone should do something about it.
- If I was in charge, it wouldn’t be this way.
- If I could only have more (money, time, energy, etc.), things would be different.
- Things just keep getting in my way.
- When I win the lottery I will….do something extraordinary.
These folks feel they are ready for change to happen to them. But they lack the mindset that allows the to DO SOMETHING about their own situation. Instead, they stay in a place of circumstance, blame, and helplessness.
One of the guru’s of change and leadership during change is John P. Kotter. In his book, The Heart of Change (2002, Harvard Business School Press), Kotter talks about the first step to changing anyone’s behaviors - increase the urgency.
Until and unless you feel that changing is urgent, you aren’t going to change. You might think about change and wish for it, even pray for it, but until you are shoved out of your comfort zone and the urgency is clear to you, lasting change rarely happens.
Think about the last diet you went on. What were the motivating factors to make you wake up one day and decide, “Today is the day!”? I would wager it was a sense of urgency that something must be done. Maybe you worried about your health, or your jeans didn’t fit that day. Something happened to make your urgency increase. And this made you take the small steps towards change that day that you needed to take. It’s the same in pretty much every area of our lives.
Until you’re ready TO change, and not just ready FOR change, you probably won’t make any progress towards your goals. If you’re stuck and can’t figure out why, this might be it! You might not be ready yet and you need to push through the other stages of change that are necessary for your urgency to increase. This is true in our personal lives, in our careers and in our businesses.
Another way of looking at this is the change curve below. Change is a process, and it isn’t really until you get to step 4 that things really start to change! The first four steps feel pretty rotten, but they can also go really fast if you don’t let yourself get stuck in them.
You can see that the curve goes down before it goes up. This shows how you probably feel about life during these early stages. But once you do get through the letting go phase, things start feeling fantastic! And if you stick with it, your motivation and productivity actually goes higher than it was before you made the change.
So where are you on this curve? Are you still just waiting for your life to change around you, or are you ready TO make your life change? If it’s the latter, it’s time to hire a coach and get to work! But if not, it’s time to look a bit deeper into those excuses you’re telling yourself.
Change starts with one person, with one moment, with one decision, and with one small action. What action can you take today to move one teeny tiny step closer to the changes you want in your life? Go and do it!
Over the next seven weeks, I’m going to be going into each of these stages more in-depth. We’ll look at how you can coach yourself through them and how to know when you are stuck and need a bit more help. So stay tuned!
I know that this may surprise you, Do-Gooder, to know that your mission is not to work yourself to death and sacrifice your family, your savings, and every friendship you have to make this dream of bringing good to the world come true for you. Sometimes when we are committed and passionate about our message, and when so much is at stake, it’s easy to forget that the whole point of living this life is to have FUN!
But I can assure you, when you are not having fun and really enjoying your work, your work will suffer, your message will suffer, and the people who need you most won’t get the best of you. And even your business will suffer. Once the fun goes out of what you’re doing, the chances of you going off track and making mistakes multiplies very quickly. That Fun Zone? That is your sweet spot, Do-Gooder!
So the challenge is to find the fun in all the business stuff you need to do. (And yes, you DO need to do the business stuff! I’m not advocating just ignoring your budget sheets, planning activities, or administrative tasks, here, let’s be very clear!) There is fun to be found in all your business building tasks…if you know where to look!
Let’s take business planning for a start.
Do you remember the first road trip you ever took? Or your first journey to somewhere new? How exciting was that experience of planning out the places you’d go and the things you’d see on the way? Looking at brochures, finding out about where you’d go and what you’d see got you excited about getting started, right? It was a motivating process that helped you imagine, plan and get excited about your trip.
You certainly had some worries to deal with too, no doubt. The unknown road ahead was probably a bit scary if you thought about it too much. You had a lot to do to get ready! You needed to make sure your vehicle was road worthy, that you had the right snacks and road-tunes at the ready, and that you had a map that could help you navigate your way with stops and check-in points along the journey. Planning ahead for a few of the unknowns also helped you get excited because you could relax a bit about what might happen. You were prepared for the journey, and you could go ahead with confidence and certainty, keeping those little worries in check.
Your business planning can feel just like that! What’s the secret? Letting go of your fear and letting the fun come in. Get excited about the plans you’re making! Enjoy the thrill of imagining what it will be like when you’re at different places on your journey. How will it feel to get that website launched? How fun will it be to see those stats going up, up, up as people see how great you are? What will you do when you get that first delighted client or customer? How fun will it be to really see this idea of yours SOAR?!
Approaching your business planning like a chore makes it just that – a chore! But if you can find the fun in it, let go of your fears about “what-if?” and use it to help you really move forward, it can be such an exciting, energizing and worthwhile process.
So if you’re in the middle of getting your business going, and you’re either soldiering through your business planning and hating it, or you are avoiding it because you’re sure you’ll hate it, change your mindset. This is fun stuff! And if it isn’t feeling fun, motivating, or energizing, you aren’t doing it right!
If you’re feeling stuck with your business planning, get some help! As a business planning expert, I can help coach you through this process and find the fun again. Just get in touch and we can work together to get you moving again!
It’s amazing how many of us wander through life either unwilling or unable to truly believe in ourselves. We tell ourselves that we “have to” stay in jobs that suck our soul away, day after day, or in relationships that don’t raise us up and give us life and energy. We can’t find the courage or the time to really find out what our true purpose and passions are in life. Why do we do this? How do we get stuck in a life that just doesn’t feel right?
Many times we get stuck in lives we don’t really want because of a deadly combination of two powerful blocks in our thinking - Fear and Overwhelm
We FEAR what might happen because we don’t believe in our ability to achieve our true goals. We fear what the journey might be like. We fear what we might have to give up to have the life we truly deserve. We fear the insecurity and discomfort that comes with change. We fear that we might not be good enough.
If you do pluck up the courage to start moving past your FEAR, you may not be as free as you think. Because around the corner from fear, hides OVERWHELM. When overwhelm takes over, we feel hopeless, trapped, and uncertain about the steps we need to take. It feels like there are too many options, too much to do, and that it will all take too long. Those thoughts and voices that we hear tell us to be practical, to keep to the familiar, to stop dreaming. We can’t see the forest for the trees, and don’t know where to start or even what we want. All we see is that what we don’t want to feel stuck and held back anymore.
These are emotions we all struggle with at times. Recently, I’ve been fighting my own overwhelm demon who really seems to be determined to get me off track in my business building. I am fighting it by working with my own coach, developing some structure in my day and working hard to be self disciplined. But it’s a journey, and each of us has to find what will work best for us. But the important thing is that we must remember that these are not signs that we should not be chasing our dreams. Not even close! They are the opposite in fact.
How much fear do you have about the uncertainty that comes with choosing a different life for yourself?
How free would you feel if you had absolute clarity about what you wanted from your life?
It would feel pretty amazing, right? Sure it would! But how do you do it?
What if I were to tell you that you can GET PAST THE FEAR AND OVERWHELM quickly and easily? How willing would you be to move past these blocks if you could do it has side effects like bringing more joy, fun, freedom and excitement into your life? What would this be worth to you?
It’s a simple truth of human psychology that we only change when the discomfort of the old life and ways of doing things is greater than the discomfort of change. So if it’s more comfortable to stay where we are, we are unlikely to go through all the hassle of finding a new place to live. This is exactly why goals like weight loss, exercise and quitting smoking are so difficult for us. The action of changing is often perceived as having greater discomfort than staying as we are, in the familiar, even if we know it isn’t good for us in the long term. Until changing is easier, and perceived as the better option for comfort, we won’t do it. If the equation isn’t right, change is just about impossible.
So how do you get past all this? Some steps you can take towards the ACTION required to make change more comfortable, and to get past the fear and overwhelm that might come along your journey:
- Get a cheerleader! – Find a mentor, a coach, a trusted friend who will never, ever let you forget how amazing you are. (Mom’s are great for this!)
- Find the fun in it – Remember that if you start thinking of building your business or finding a new job as a “chore” or something you just have to get through, the fun gets sucked right out. This is a problem because a) you stop learning and b) it suddenly becomes too uncomfortable to change again! If it feels like work, you’re probably doing it wrong. Make it fun! PLAY!
- Track your progress – Chart your success through a blog, a journal, a calendar, or a series of crossed-off To-Do lists. But write it down and make sure you review the steps you’ve taken. We often forget how far we’ve come!
- Make it hard to quit – Surround yourself with people who know what you’re doing and will ask you about it. Be accountable and let everyone you know that you’re trying something new. Give them an opportunity to support you in your goals by even just asking how it’s going. It’s amazing how useful this can be.
- Break it down – “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” “The longest journey starts with one step.” When you’re feeling overwhelmed, find the smallest thing you can do in the next hour to take a bit of action towards your goals. Make one phone call, write a list, research. If it all feels too much, give yourself permission to just do one little thing today. (Warning: I bet you won’t stop at one!)
- Be easy on yourself. Take small steps when you need to, and take leaps when you feel brave enough to do so – We can’t be brave all the time. It’s okay to be gentle on yourself. Give yourself permission to take a walk, take a day off, and just be in the moment.
- Keep learning – A great remedy to fear is to just start learning. Read a book, go to a seminar, attend a free webinar. These things always get your creative juices flowing and give you the thinking space you need to come up with your next big idea.
- Allow mistakes – You WILL make some! It’s part of the journey. Learn what you can from them and then learn to forgive yourself and move on.
- Put yourself at the top of the list, or at least on the list – You are your own biggest investment. Treat yourself well! Don’t forget to take care of your needs. Eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise. If you aren’t at the top of your game, you can’t be the creative, energized, positive person you need to be to do your job well.
- Give back – The best way to really cement your learning and feel a sense of momentum in your journey is to reach out to others coming up behind you and giving them a hand. Mentor someone else, volunteer to give a talk at your local church or Chamber of Commerce. Work with young people. Give back and show the universe you are grateful for the lessons and the gifts you have received and you will see them flowing to you more and more.
And if you are still having trouble, give me a call! You might just need a good coach who can help you sort through the forest to find those trees again.
Last week, I was stuck. Well and truly stuck in what seemed like an impossible task of making some big decisions about how I have been working (or not working, as the case was sometimes!) Working for myself is awesome, and I am full of passion about this path I am on. But it also has it’s challenges! I try to keep myself really motivated by celebrating my successes, and having a great network of like minded people around me. But now and again, even I start to get off track.
I found myself worrying about my next steps. Fear came and visited, followed by it’s friend inaction. I was afraid to do much of anything, for fear of getting it wrong, of failing. Like a snowball, inaction just kept growing and growing, until I wasn’t able to decide what I wanted to have for lunch without second guessing myself.
It’s not a nice place to be, this land of inaction and fear!
But it’s also a place that anyone growing or changing will be very familiar with. It is especially a familiar place for those of us trying to live a new life, and change our careers for good.
How do you get past it? What does it take to pull yourself out of that mucky, dark place and get your mojo back?
For me, it started with a conversation with my coach. (Oh yes, I have my own coach! Part of the whole “practice what you preach” principle!) Coaching conversations are all about creating action and change, so having that chat with my coach is what first started me moving forward again.
She challenged me to think about the last time I was in a place of taking action after feeling stuck. What did I do beforehand?
- I researched and learned something new – found some inspiration and reached out to others
- Gave myself a pep talk
- Set a deadline for my actions
- Focused on the potential benefits
- Thought about how taking this action related to my goals
And then I just sucked it up and DID IT! Letting go of my fear was the real catalyst to moving me forward.
The funny thing about fear is that we give it too loud a voice sometimes. This is perfectly natural – listening to fears has kept the human species on the planet, after all! But most of our fears in the modern world are over-exaggerated. I had boss once who would often sense when his team was getting a bit fearful or anxious and remind us that whatever happened, no body was going to die because of our business decisions. It was a bit of a joke but it also always grounded me. It is so true, isn’t it? Aside from brain surgeons and few others, our decisions really aren’t life and death even though we give them the weight of life and death decisions sometimes.
We need to be clear with ourselves about the difference between anxiety about the unknown and excitement about the journey. We have to learn to trust and believe in ourselves, because we will take care of ourselves! It’s in our nature to do so!
Remember that FEAR stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. The truth is we are in no danger, and we can challenge our fears and turn down their volume. For example, try removing your fear of failure by remembering that many modern business leaders agree that if you aren’t failing regularly in life or in business, you aren’t living and risking enough!
Aside from fear, a lack of motivation can really get us feeling stuck. But the truth here is that you won’t feel motivated UNTIL YOU TAKE ACTION! You have to just do it sometimes. The way to do this is by breaking down your big challenge into smaller steps just to get you moving. This is something I talk to my clients (and myself!) about often. We can’t always take leaps forward. Small, baby steps are ok! I ask them:
“What could you do TODAY to take a tiny step forward on this? What wouldn’t be scary or uncomfortable?”
When you release yourself from judgment about your action being right or good enough, it feels incredibly freeing! And one little step leads to another, and momentum gathers. Soon, you are on your way again!
If you’re feeling stuck and unmotivated, find something, anything, that would be a baby step towards your goals and do that. Give yourself permission for this tiny little thing to be enough for now. The main goal when you feel this way is to create action, and creating action isn’t necessarily about completing something. It’s enough to take small steps that may or may not snowball into something else later on.
This week, my small step was to sign up for a new online media campaign website. I told myself I didn’t have to actually do anything with it, I just had to sign up. Four hours later, I had created two new newsletters and come up with some great resources for my clients. It was marvelous to feel those creative juices flowing again, and it was all because I just took one little baby step and got myself unstuck.
Let your actions come as a snowball. Remember that it is possible to start a snowball of action with one little snowflake-sized action step.