Fear exists inside of all of us, rooted in our primal instincts. Fear often acts as a motivator. But it can also hold us back from achieving our dreams. We've all felt that little voice in the back of our mind whispering "you can't, you won't, you will fail."
I have experienced a lot of fear in the last six months. As an outdoor adventurer caught in a corporate world job. My future outlook scared the hell out of me, would I turn 40 and look back on nothing but regret. I was able to throw away the little man and commit to my dream. Throughout the process, I experienced five major emotions...
1) Outright Fear - This is the hardest emotion to control. Ignoring it will keep you from committing to your dream. I had many sleepless nights as the little man hopped around in my mind, worrying what my friends would think, or how I would make ends meet. Write out every single fear you experience no matter how small. Go down the list and identify the best and worst case scenarios. Often the best case scenario will far out weigh the worst. Reviewing my list of best cases, I moved on to a phase that was the complete opposite of fear.
2) Stoke - Stoke is the emotion that makes you bounce of the walls with excitement. Once I committed to my dream, everything became awesome. The research, the conversations with friends and the planning. I was walking around with a goofy grin on my face and bubbling with happiness! For a brief time, it seems like nothing can set you back and you are fully alive. It is quite amazing how fear transitions so quickly to stoke once you commit.
3) Anxiety - Once stoke wears off, next comes anxiety. You begin to ask “what if?” and “why?”. Scenarios begin to stir in your mind about whether or not you'll be successful. Self doubt creeps in and you have the urge to back out of the commitment. The key is to switch your thoughts from negative to positive. Make a list of every negative, anxious emotion - then write a positive variation of it. Train your brain to be positive. Awareness and acknowledgement of anxiety is a huge step towards addressing it and moving onto the next emotion.
4) Sadness - This stage is a spillover from anxiety. You begin thinking about what you may lose - close friendships, your house or money. You feel sad at the thought of giving up stability and comfort. The little voice may try to climb back onto your shoulder. Spend time with people who encourage and support you - talk to them about your sadness, goals and dreams. Acknowledge your past. Be happy that you are willing to take a leap of faith.
5) Anticipation - Once I had committed to the dream and began actively preparing for it, anticipation grew. I was ready to hit the road! Anticipation is a catch-22 emotion. You can easily forget the important process that occurs between sadness and anticipation: the strengthening of relations with friends you may not see; getting your affairs in order and taking the time to ready yourself physically, spiritually and mentally for a big change. Embrace anticipation, but don’t get too caught up in it. Enjoy the process of getting ready to go after your dreams.
A huge change in your life will always be tough. Take the time to address the various emotions you feel and embrace them. When you look back on your life, be satisfied with how you went after your dream. It isn’t dreamers that change the world - it is those who master their emotions and take action.
Written by Spencer Madden