As I’ve been building my business, there’s been this consistent nagging voice in the back of my head. It’s quiet, but it’s there. Maybe
you have heard something similar. Out of nowhere, I’ll think “What if I can’t do this?” or “What if I fail?” or “What will people think of me?” Those ‘what if’ thoughts throw me and it takes me awhile to get back on track.
Whether you’re trying to master breastfeeding or training for your first 5K or working to improve your marriage, those pesky thoughts force their way into our lives and can derail our progress.
Here are five ways to let fear fuel you and hurl you towards your goal.
1. Embrace it
I used to see anxiety as a big, scary black blob. Or maybe a black hole. Something unknown, sucking the energy right out of me. But recently, I’ve started to see this anxiety differently. Perhaps it’s not scary. Maybe instead, it’s love - just wearing a disguise. This anxiety doesn’t want me to get hurt, fall down, fail. When I have those sidelining thoughts like ‘What if I can’t do this?’, I try to stop and hear what anxiety is trying to tell me. I picture it differently - maybe in the form of a loving grandmother or caring teacher, calling out to me as I’m chasing after a ball that’s rolled into the street.
“Be careful!” Grandma calls. “Look both ways! Watch for cars!”
I can acknowledge that thought or worry. Yes, I’ll be careful. Thanks for the reminder. Now I’m going to grab my basketball and get back in the game.
2. Do 1 thing each day toward your goal
Newton’s first law of motion says:
An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
This is so freeing. I don’t have to do it all. I just have to do one thing. ONE thing. It can be as simple as returning an email or checking in with a client or working on a blog post.
I’m trying to get my day organized the night before. This takes some effort, because usually I just want to crawl into bed and watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix. But, by taking five minutes to plan out my ‘one thing’, I can avoid, what Newton calls, an unbalanced force. I can avoid stopping.
3. Reward yourself
The other day, I was part of a panel speaking about freelance. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I got really nervous. Literally, I’m speaking into a microphone to a room full of people and getting bombarded by those pesky anxious thoughts.
I told myself that WHEN (not if) I get through this event and come out on top, I’m treating myself. I’m going to buy myself some new shoes. And the next day I went shoe shopping.
As I was losing weight after we had our third baby, I set up rewards for every 5-pound increment I lost. And I posted that where I could see it every day. Small rewards, like a new pair of running shoes, a book I’ve wanted or a massage. Instead of focusing on the entire number (35 pounds is overwhelming!), I just had to work for the next five.
4. Make a plan
Most commercial airline pilots use autopilot while flying. Throughout the flight, the pilot just has to tap the plane on track. Lots of things can cause it to get off course - winds, weather and jet streams. But, once the pilot inputs his or her destination, autopilot takes over.
The same is true for us. Once we have a plan, we have something to focus on. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It will ebb and flow as our lives unfold, but we know our destination.
5. Create a vision board
When I first learned about vision boards, I made an assumption this wasn’t for me. I could master a to do list. I rocked my goals. But cutting out pictures from magazines and gluing them onto a poster board? No thanks.
And then I tried it. I went to a Vision Board Party, where I was surrounded by 50 women all doing the same thing. Cutting, gluing, taping, laughing, encouraging and dreaming.
My vision board now sits near by bed where I see it every day and every night. It reminds me why I’m hustling. It crowds out fear and negativity. It tells me that I’ll achieve my goals.