BY CHRISTINA GREENBERG
Is fear holding you back? Here’s a 3-step challenge to help you go outside your comfort zone.
Recently, I was asked this question: “If you could talk to your younger self, what would you tell them to do differently?”
Honestly, I have no regrets. Life has unfolded exactly as I would want it to. But I have let fear hold me back. In particular, it’s taken me a long time to warm up to public speaking, even though it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I wish I could tell my younger self, “Just jump in and do it! The more you do it, the better you get!” I’ve put off years of practice because I was just too scared to go out and start.
What is your relationship with fear like?
Is there something you want to do but keep putting off because you’re afraid of the results? This is completely common, and a perfectly natural way to respond to fear. Avoiding certain situations (like public speaking!) makes sense from a biological standpoint. Fear keeps us safe from our impulses to hug bears or cozy up to a cobra. Besides, why would you willingly put yourself in that state of discomfort? Why risk it at all?
But public speaking has been worth the risk for me. And I’ll bet there is something in your life.. a dream, a hope, an aspiration… that is worth taking the risk for you, too. I’ll bet you have something stunning to offer this world that hasn’t yet been fully seen, and I’ll bet it’s worth feeling a little fear to get there.
I wish that all of us could follow our dreams without feeling any discomfort, but that is impossible.
Unfortunately, going through the feeling of fear is the way to feel less fear in the future. It’s a process of habituation: The more we experience the situation that causes fear (for me, public speaking), the less we will feel the fear associated with it.
We can re-train our brains that these scary situations can, in fact, be safe. We can liberate ourselves from that regret I had for my younger self: Holding ourselves back from what we really want because fear tells us it’s too risky. We can teach ourselves that it’s going to be okay; we just have to jump in and do it.
But there’s no way around it.
At first, it’s going to feel scary. You have to know this up front because, otherwise, you’re going to quit after the first signs of butterflies in the stomach and a quickened heartbeat. However, by keeping your big dream in mind, you can learn to ride the waves of fear until your fear subsides. The trick is: You have to jump in somewhere. Here are three steps to help you successfully jump into your dreams and the resulting fear:
3 Step Challenge to Go Outside Your Comfort Zone:
Choose your dream.
Envision what it will be like to live your dream, free of fear. Imagine the impact you will have on those around you and the world. How will you know that your dream is successful? Being clear on this part will help the fear that will come feel worth it.
Do a step of your dream that is outside your comfort zone.
Choose one tangible step that might cause a little fear that will help you get to your dream, then do it. Breathe through the feelings of fear, and remind yourself of why you’re choosing this dream. Remind yourself that it’s worth it.
Lock in your success, regardless of the outcome. You took a step toward your dream, despite the fear, and that is worth celebrating. If you didn’t have the outcome you were hoping for, think big picture: While the short-term goal might not have worked out, your long term goal of choosing your dream despite the feelings of fear was wildly successful. Congratulations.
You have everything you need to go after your dreams in spite of fear. And with a little practice, a lot of fear, and even more perseverance, you will come out on the other side. How will you choose to walk through the fear to get to that dream of yours?