Fear can be your friend.
Before you tune out and say I’m crazy, hear me out.
Looking out over the horizon of your life not sure what’s coming next can be a frightening prospect.
That’s because with freedom always comes uncertainty.
After recently transitioning from a role I’ve had for nearly fourteen years, that’s where I find myself – freedom with uncertainty.
Maybe that’s you, too:
- You’re moving to a new home or region of the country
- You’re starting a new job, career, or business
- Your kids are leaving the nest
- You’ve just been diagnosed with a serious illness
- You’re running for a political office
The list goes on. It seems that change is the only constant in life. As soon as you get comfortable, life begins to change.
Make Friends with Fear
It may sound crazy, but here’s what I’ve discovered. When I feel afraid, it usually means I’m moving in the right direction, and when fear is not present, I’m usually too comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to submit to fear or partner with it (it’s a tormentor), but the presence of fear often means I am getting close to something important.
Without fear, we wouldn’t need courage, and without courage, the world would be much less interesting.
Not courage as a feeling, but action in the face of fear.
Can I share a secret with you? Fear has been present in every important decision I’ve ever made and every path I’ve ever chosen.
Fear and resistance are a sign that you’re doing something significant.
Without fear, life can feel a little drab and boring. The presence of fear tells us we are alive.
Recently, I was talking through this with my counselor and he said, “Anxiety feeds on uncertainty.” In other words, the unknown almost always creates anxiety. The question is, what do we do with it?
5 Ways You Can Use Fear To Your Advantage
Here are five ideas that have helped me. Maybe they will help you, too. The first two are from my counselor, the last two are mine.
- Recognize. The presence of fear means you are making progress. Recognize that but don’t give in to the fear. Instead, move forward in the face of it.
- Re-frame. Shift your attention to what you know, to the things that are certain of right now, and to what’s right in front of you. If you need to make a list, do it. That keeps you grounded in the present instead of on “what ifs.”
- Confront. Name your fears out loud. In other words, what’s the worst-case scenario that could happen? It helps to get your fears out in the open. As my counselor said, it almost never ends up as the best or worst-case scenario we play out in our heads.
- Refocus. Do the things you have control over right now. We can avoid worrying about tomorrow by planning for today. One of the things that help me stay focused on the present is to create a daily plan based on the things I have control over. I write down three primary objectives and then any tasks that must happen that day. I do the same for the week, and I typically have three high-level objectives for the quarter as well – usually two professional and one personal or family related.
- Give up. I shared this in my last email , but it’s worth repeating. When there are more unknowns than knowns, and you feel like your floating down a fast-moving river, surrender to the current. Allow your faith to guide you and trust that there is a plan.
If we think about it, it’s shocking how little control you and I actually have.
Which one of these do you need to focus on right now?
Leave a comment and let me know one of the fears and uncertainties you’re dealing with right now and how you navigate are navigating it. It helps you to get them out in the open, otherwise they take up too much mental space.