Fear. It's the number one barrier to living confidently and realizing your dreams.
You experience it everyday in small and large doses. You don't do something you want to do because you are afraid. You do something you don't want to do because you are afraid.
Fear is the little demon that sits on our shoulders, holding us back from growth, success, fulfillment and happiness.
In our modern world, most fear is unfounded. Sure, it's normal to be afraid if you are being mugged or in some other situation that causes real or potential physical or psychological harm. But we are generally safe from that kind of danger.
Our most common fears come from baseless things.
- They arise from events or situations that haven't happened or may never happen.
- They arise from thinking patterns we've created and become adjusted to.
- They derive from false beliefs and reinforced mediocrity.
- And they live inside of our ego — the part of us that is the frightened, demanding child who only wants safety and comfort.
How to be Fearless in Life
Sometimes our fear is about overcoming fear. We don't want to succeed because it requires so much, and, of course, we might fail.
The poet Frederick Seidel says it all with these lines:
“Don't cure me. Sickness is my me. My terror was you'd set me free.”
We are like prisoners who have been jailed for years. When we are finally released, the new world around us is too overwhelming, too intimidating. We want the comfort and safety of our mental confinement.
If you are fearful in small or big ways, think about this idea: embrace fear, because fear is a necessary component of positive change. Fear is a goldmine for growth.
If you are fearful of something — starting a new job, learning something, public speaking, having an uncomfortable conversation — then you know you have found a goldmine!
Yes, this is the place to start digging for the gemstones that will buy your freedom from fear, and send you soaring to the next level.
Don't you want to experience the pure bliss and joy of life, and knock that demon fear off your shoulder for good?
If you want to live fearlessly, you absolutely must let go of some beliefs and actions. Here are some of them:
- What other people think of you. You will never please everyone, and it is rarely worth sacrificing yourself to accommodate some other person's beliefs about who you should be or what you should do.
- Fear of failing. You will fail. Again and again and again. Failure is the pathway to success. It is an inevitable part of success. Accept that and failure won't be so intimidating.
- Your status. This is pure ego and part of what other people think of you. Your status isn't based on anything real. Just perception. Is it worth giving up real happiness for status?
- The discomfort of fear. Fear is uncomfortable. No one likes to be sitting in fear. We'll do just about anything to avoid it. But you must know from experience that it's temporary. And it doesn't kill you.
- Embarrassment. Sometimes we may look stupid, silly, out-of-touch, inexperienced, fumbling, weak, or vulnerable. It will happen, but you can't let it hold you back. People forget your foolishness long before you do. They are far more interested in themselves.
If you can let go of these manacles of fear, then you're well on your way to living a fearless life. But just letting go is only part of the process. You also have to take action.
Here are 23 actions to show you how to be fearless.
1. Stay open to all possibilities.
Let go of outcomes. You may think you want to go right, but life takes you left. So go with what life presents. Left might be more fun anyway.
Don't allow fear and discomfort to close doors of opportunity and growth.
2. Embrace change.
Embrace it even if change that appears negative. Change is constant and is part of the evolution of life and the human experience. Don't fight it. It will happen anyway, so follow it where it leads you.
3. Assess your life.
Where in your life are you feeling flatlined or unhappy? In your work, your relationships, your personal development, your creativity?
Find the low-hanging fruit that is triggering your doldrums. If there's more than one area, choose the one that could foster the most positive results or rewards if you make change.
4. Define and analyze.
Define exactly what you have been doing in this area — the status quo behaviors you repeat day in and day out that have led you to your feelings of unhappiness or boredom.
What daily, weekly, and yearly actions and choices have led you to this point? Then analyze which of those choices and actions seem to hold you back the most or make you the most unhappy.
5. Imagine your vision.
Begin to imagine a new vision for this area of your life. In a perfect world, exactly how would you want this area to look.
Get specific with your vision — what would you be doing? Who would you be with? How would it look and feel? How would you be a different person with this new vision?
Write down as much as you can about your vision, even if some of it is unclear. You might consider making a vision board. It can help you clarify what you want in life and keep you motivated to push past fear and work toward making your vision a reality.
6. Seek inspiration.
Look at books, blogs, magazines, movies or anything else that can offer inspiration and advice on how other people have lived out your vision. Look at a wide variety of resources in genres you haven't explored before.
For example, if you're longing to live somewhere else, don't research cities similar to the one you live in now or on the same side of the country. Broaden your field of exploration to seek out completely new and different ideas.
7. Practice creativity.
Before you act on your vision, you can practice creative change in your work and personal life to learn to cope with the discomfort of fear.
Before you launch in to a project, don't proceed in the same old fashion. Ask yourself, “How can I do this differently? What would be a new approach?”
In your relationships, ask yourself, “How can I add fun and creativity to my next interaction? How can I respond to this person differently, in a happier and healthier way?”
8. Shake up routines.
To become fearless, begin to shake up your most basic daily routines to practice the discomfort of newness.
Drive a different route to work. Change up the order of your morning routine. Step outside in the middle of the day (if you don't already). Break up boring habits and keep yourself slightly on the edge.
9. Define your values.
Whatever big changes you decide to make in your life, the result needs to be aligned with your core values.
These values are the defining principles for your life, and if you are out-of-alignment with them, you'll never be happy and fulfilled. If you don't know your values, take a look at this list of 400 value words to get some ideas.
10. Write a mission statement.
When you apply your values and vision to every decision of your life, you have a road map that keeps you from veering off in directions that don't support who you really are or want to be.
Learn how to write a personal mission statement that gives you clarity and helps you live fearlessly.
11. Make flexible plans.
Set goals for yourself and work toward them. But remember, you are staying open to possibilities and embracing change.
Work toward your goal, using your values and mission statement to guide you, but watch for signs to recalibrate.
12. Find a mentor.
Stepping out of your comfort zone is scary. Seek out a support partner or mentor who has your back and can challenge you to take the actions you need to take.
Be sure it's someone you trust and who understands the power of boldness and learning to be fearless.
13. Challenge yourself.
Find those areas in your life where you feel fear. It might be public speaking or asking for a raise. Once you face these growth demons, it will enhance your life in unexpected ways.
Where do you need to challenge yourself? Look those fears in the eye, and accept a little discomfort so you can reap the great rewards of stepping out of your comfort zone.
14. Begin to say what you think.
I'm not suggesting you be rude, hurtful, or even intentionally shocking. But often we hold back our opinions or beliefs for fear of offending or not fitting in.
Practice being fully yourself by saying what you think and embracing your truth.
15. Stop people pleasing.
Being fearless and following your own vision might mean making others uncomfortable or unhappy.
You do need to consider the needs of your spouse and family, but otherwise you must make your choices based on what is best for you. You can't sacrifice your vision at the alter of other people's demands.
16. Adjust your mindset.
Most of the time what we fear about change doesn't come to pass. Or if it does occur, it is far less painful than we imagined.
And even if it is immediately very painful, the pain will subside and you'll eventually reap the benefits of the change or decision.
There have been a few choices in my life that caused profound initial pain, but they resulted in a better life in the end. It was worth walking through fire to get there.
17. Think big.
Why not? Why not make the biggest plans, the boldest actions, the most challenging decisions? You don't know unless you try. You can stay small and safe. Or you can live an extraordinary life.
18. Find your tribe.
Seek out people who share a similar vision and world view — fearless people who inspire you to take action.
Look for people you trust to work with you on your bold adventures and positive changes.
Broaden your circle of partners so you have a tribe of people working together for mutual benefit. This is broader than networking. It's working together to create a network of influence, inspiration and action.
19. Seek professional support.
If there is something you really want, but fear is holding you back, don't go it alone. There are some fears that need deeper unraveling.
I can't imagine not being to fly in an airplane or socialize with people, but these are very real fears for many people.
Whatever it is, don't give up. Find a counselor or coach to help you. You are in control, not your fears.
20. Take action daily.
That is the greatest cure for fear. Decide what you want to achieve, then start doing the work. Focus on the task at hand. Then the next task, then the next.
Action is more powerful than great books, great blogs, great motivational speakers, or great plans. Even when you are in a slump or feel afraid, just do something.
21. Embrace your worthiness.
Beyond the fear of discomfort, one of the main reasons people don't make change is because they don't feel worthy of an amazing life.
We are ALL worthy of the most exciting, thrilling life we can create for ourselves. I guarantee that the slow and steady water torture drip of the status quo demands more energy and suffering that the sting of decisive and bold action.
Shout from the cliff, “I am worthy!!!” — and then take the leap with arms outspread.
22. Make fun a priority.
Most of us take life too seriously. We focus on our pains and problems and the possibility of pains and problems in the future. We dwell on the negative and obliterate the sunshine beaming on us from all around.
Save serious for the really big things and allow yourself to have fun, to explore your vision, to make mistakes and learn from them, to see the beauty in the moment.
23. Make fearlessness your motto.
Put the word “fearless” in front of your name. In everything you do, every choice you make, every part of your vision you act upon, ask yourself, “Am I doing this boldly?”
Envision yourself as a fearless person, willing to act, to be decisive, to take a chance, to be creative, to give it your best.
The mediocre, boring, uninspired, path of least resistance is no longer for you. Shake up your life and be bold in all things.
I want to be fearless. Do you?
Are you ready to push past your insecurities, roadblocks, and fears? If so, it takes commitment and action.
Every single big positive change in my life — the kind of change that propelled me to the next level of growth and upgraded my life significantly — has come at a cost. The cost was my sense of comfort and security for a period of time.
Everything I've accomplished personally and professionally was prefaced by a decision or series of decisions that required being fearless.
You will have to feel fear, anxiety, and discomfort during that “in-between” time before you reach the unknown shores of the other side and find safety there.
A fearless life requires stretching your limits and pushing past the status quo in thought and action. But every time you do, you push yourself closer to the life you imagine — the one you can achieve.