By Leah S. McDaniel
When was the last time you beat back anxiety to pursue something outside of your comfort zone? If you think about it, even just briefly, you’ll likely find several things top-of-mind that you’ve always wanted to try, that are on your bucket list or have been longtime goals. And, in many cases, what’s stopping you from going after those things is nothing more than fear of the unknown. It happens to the best of us. But, this can be the year you overcome what’s holding you back once and for all. And we’ve got the insight to help you do it. We reached out to four experts for tips: entrepreneur Libryia Jones, founder of Wanderist Life and Wandering Mom; D. Ivan Young, Ph.D., certified master coach and personality type expert; Atlanta native Rev. Hope Sims Sutton, CEO and founder of She Is Powerful Inc., and president of CoachDiversity Institute, Dr. Towanna Burrous. Each weighed in with timely advice on getting to your next level.
Identify and Assess Your Fear
Fear can be rooted in different areas, from concern of failure or procrastination to uncertainty of how to get started; however experts agree that the best way to move past fear is to attack it head on. Young challenges those struggling with fear to confront it.
“The monster in your head is nothing like the monster under your bed, because what you make up is far greater than what you have to confront,” Young explains. “If you can have enough passion to go beyond what you’re scared of, there’s a reward for you.”
Sims Sutton agrees, “I invite people to confront and name their fear. Often you find your fear is not your own, but may have been placed by others that haven’t fulfilled their own dreams.”
Write Down What You Want
Writing down what you want to achieve is a key tool to manifesting your dreams. It allows you to better understand exactly what you want, and more importantly why you want it. Jones, who recently completed “My Wander Year” escorting 30 people around the world for 12 months, encourages others to not focus on the big scary thing.
“Focus on the little things you can do. Think of it as moving bricks, breaking the idea into pieces, and as you complete each step, suddenly you look around and you have a building. Planning a year abroad for 30 people and basing a company around it is a big scary thing that kept me up at night, but when I broke it into a series of small steps, it wasn’t scary at all.”
According to Burrous, “The key to being successful with your vision is setting goals for that vision. Every goal is a piece of a puzzle making the vision more relevant and attainable to you. The key is to make goals SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely) because if you’re too vague with a goal you won’t achieve it.”
Use Your Fear to Help You Achieve Your Goal
Instead of allowing fear to hold you back, let it fuel your passion. Acknowledge that fear exists and don’t let it take control of you. Fear, Burrous contends, is merely a mindset.
“Fear is a constant companion, but can serve as a great signal that we need to overcome something. You have nothing to regret if you never take a step; and you can stay stagnant and have nothing to deal with. One step toward your goal is better than nothing.”
Honor your feelings and emotions, but re-direct your inner voice and quiet the negative self-talk.
“Don’t give yourself permission to not pursue your goals because of what you label fear; harness that energy toward the courage to move forward,” Sims Sutton says.
Learn, Leverage and Leap
As you create goals to support your vision, use the blueprint designed by those before you to guide your pursuit. Read books on topics that interest you and stories of others that have accomplished what you are trying to achieve. Watch videos on YouTube and other websites that will help motivate and inform you as you craft your plan. Finally, create an accountability circle to help keep you on task. Options include finding a local or online life coach as well as tapping trusted friends and colleagues.
“If you know you have not been successful at accomplishing a goal in the past, ask yourself what stood in the way of it,” Burrous suggests, “then surround yourself with people who can hold you accountable in a style that works for you.”
Jones contends that great mentors should be inspiration, but warns not to wallow in comparison.
“The only difference between your mentor and yourself is action, but as a dear friend says, ‘comparison is the thief of joy and they were one day you.’”
Once your plan is determined, it is key to remember that your main obstacle is yourself.
“If you want to do something, it will cost you something: time, humbling yourself or money. But what good comes from embracing mediocrity? God only steers moving vehicles and you can’t achieve anything divine until you make up in your mind that failure is not an option.”