What if the only thing holding you back from accomplishing your big goals in life is irrational fear? That’s right. Most of your fears aren’t based in reality but exist only in the construct of your mind.
You fear the uncertainty of the future. You fear financial burdens that haven’t yet arisen. And you fear failing.
It happens to all of us. It happens to me. I fear failing and people saying “I told you so.” I fear letting my clients down. I fear running out of money.
But luckily, for you and me, there are ways to reframe our thinking to overcome these irrational fears and pursue our goals despite of them. Yesterday I had the opportunity to conduct a workshop in New York City in which we investigated this fear-based thinking and how it’s holding us back.
The main technique that we worked on was reframing our fear-based mindset through a series of questions. I have outlined the exercise below. You can use it to expose the irrational fears that you hold and eliminate them from your mind. Each time you face a difficult goal, come back to this exercise to hone in on your goal, eradicate your fears around it and create immediate action.
Seven Questions to Eliminate Fear-Based Thinking
This exercise is best done with a partner as it helps to have another set of ears listening to your situation. Your partner may discover things about what you say that you’re not hearing yourself. Have the partner ask you these questions in succession over 10-15 minutes. After you’re done, switch roles and give your partner a chance. You can learn from this exercise by playing both roles.
1. What is a scary goal you have that you’ve been putting off?
Identify one big goal that you have that you’ve been struggling to accomplish. It should be something that is both important and scary at the same time. Here’s a hint: choose the absolute scariest goal you have. It should make your knees shake.
2. What has been holding you back from accomplishing this goal?
Identify what has been preventing you from accomplishing the goal. What are the fears and doubts that are holding you back? Are they coming from inside you or the external world? It’s good to flush out multiple fears here. Aim to identify 3-5 fears. You might discover that the true fear that’s preventing you from going forward is not the first one that comes to mind. For example, one of the workshop members yesterday could see her surface-level fears but it wasn’t until she listed off several others that we discovered what was the underlying cause of her dilemma. So dig deep and see what you can unearth.
3. If you were to someday achieve this goal, what would it mean to you? How would it feel?
Establish the value of the potential accomplishment. Why are you trying to achieve it in the first place? How would you feel when it’s accomplished? Close your eyes and see what emotions come up for you.
4. Pretend for a moment that you could not fail (no matter what!), how would achieving this goal impact your life? What is the best-case scenario?
Now you want to temporarily brush your fear aside and picture the absolute best case scenario. What is your best possible outcome if you could not fail? How would this goal positively impact your life? Make sure you really dream. With this question, anything is possible.
5.Now pretend for a moment that you did fail, what’s the absolute worst-case scenario?
Put your best-case scenario aside and now picture that your worst fears are true and that you do fail in achieving your goal. Ask yourself, what is the absolute worst that could happen? As you start to really unpack this question you should see that your worst-case scenario is actually not that bad after all. In fact, one person in the workshop yesterday discovered that her worst-case was ending right back up where she was now. In a sense, she was already living her worst-case scenario!
6. Given your best- and worst-case scenarios, is your goal worth fighting for?
Considering the questions above, now ask yourself if the goal is worth pursuing. If it is, proceed to the next question. If you’re unsure, ask “what’s causing the hesitation?” You may need to unpack your fears a bit more.
7. What is the first step you could take towards accomplishing your goal? When are you going to complete this step?
Now that you’ve established that this goal is worth fighting for, it’s time to commit to action. What is one measurable action you can take in the near future to take a step towards this goal? Write down the goal and the date that it needs to be accomplished. If you’re working with a partner, use them as your accountability partner. Simply commit to email them when the step is complete.
That’s the exercise in a nutshell. Give it a try and good luck! If you do it multiple times then you may see patterns in the fears that come up for you. If one fear arises over and over again it may require some deeper work to overcome it. Fighting our fears is not something that can be done in one sitting. In fact, we may have to live with some fears forever. But the better we can understand them, the more we can do to tame them so they aren’t getting in the way of our dreams.
If you need help removing fear-based thinking to accomplish your goals drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org