Fear is a powerful emotion that can keep you from doing the things you want to do. But unless you learn how to overcome fear, you may never reach your full potential.
Did you know that you are born with only two natural fears? They are the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. All other fears like the fear of failure, fear of success, fear of change, fear of the unknown and so on are learned in childhood yet still have devastating consequences later on.
Although we all experience different kinds of fear, it only ever means one thing.
It halts your progress.
You cannot move forward in life if you are fearful. When you experience fear, your brain recalls previous times you’ve felt fear and does its best to protect you from loss, harm, or failure.
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
~ Franklin D. Roosevelt
This can manifest in many ways.
For example, you may feel as though an invisible force gets in the way of your progress right when it matters or you make up excuses to avoid doing the very thing that could transform your life.
Sure, this might help you in some circumstances, but when it comes to entrepreneurship if you don’t learn how to overcome fear you will find it hard to pursue your dreams.
After all, do you know of an entrepreneur who didn’t have to take a risk or two?
It wasn’t comfortable for me to quit my steady job to follow my dreams but I am so glad that I did. I had to overcome many of my own fears and take huge risks to ultimately get to a place where I was happier, more successful and doing what I loved.
So, it’s easy for me to tell you that you need to overcome fear and start taking action towards creating your passion business. You probably know that already! But how do you actually do that? Here are some tips on overcoming fear that will help you create a better life for yourself.
How to overcome fear
1. Widen your circle
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Birds of a feather, flock together”. This reminds us that attitudes are contagious so you need to be mindful about the company you keep, especially if you have dreams.
If you’re spending most of your time with people who are fearful and unwilling to take risks, chances are you will be reluctant to take risks yourself. No matter how grand your plans and how beautiful your dreams, it will be very difficult to take any kind of action on them.
You see, our minds are highly suggestible. Unless you exercise critical thinking, it’s very easy to become infected with other people’s limitations. Before long all the wonderful ideas and possibilities you’ve been entertaining will be squashed by doubt.
This is especially true if the people closest to you are critical of your ideas. Because they love you and want to keep you safe, they may tell you that your plans to start your own business are impossible. Or that you might fail so it’s better not to even try.
Even if you do decide to go for it, don’t expect your friends and family to be supportive. For them, risk is negative and spells only one thing – danger! They’ve been stuck in their comfort zones for so long they don’t know that taking risks is the only way to up-level your life.
On the other hand, if you surround yourself with entrepreneurial people and other risk-takers you can learn from their experiences and build a support group that will help you learn, grow and ultimately succeed.
This doesn’t mean you should abandon meaningful friendships. Just make sure you also develop new relationships with people who are doing what you want to do. Connect with like-minded people on Facebook or LinkedIn, join relevant networking or Meet-Up groups in your area and reach out to those you admire.
Do whatever you have to do to widen your circle.
2. Take tiny steps
Don’t come out of the gate with “Start an online store that directly competes with the market leader”.
Firstly, you’ll get so overwhelmed and discouraged that you’ll quit long before you’ve begun. Second, a feat like that could take years to complete and you’ll have trouble staying motivated.
You’ve heard the saying, “How do you eat an elephant?” It’s not one I particularly like because why would anyone want to eat an elephant? They’re such gorgeous majestic creatures. But the answer – one bite at a time – reminds us of a lesson we tend to forget.
Don’t treat your goal like a huge elephant, or a massive undertaking. Break it down into several smaller, bite-sized chunks that you can achieve.
You need to be content with small steps. That’s all life is. Small steps that you take every day so when you look back down the road it all adds up and you know you covered some distance. It took me a long time to accept that, but it’s true. You need to have patience.
~ Katie Kacvinsky
Setting small, achievable milestones like this will help you move forward and keep you motivated because every success breeds more success, no matter how small.
So, maybe you do want to start an online store that will be serious competition for the big boys, that’s great. Break that down into small goals that you can achieve as you go along. For example, set goals like, “create an ideal customer profile“, “do competitor research”, “build a simple eCommerce site”, “set up social media accounts”, etc.
I’ve found that one of the best ways to overcome fear is to take the next tiny step before me. People often talk about taking massive action but this can seem impossible when you’re paralysed by fear. So, just take the next logical step. Even something tiny like creating an Instagram account will motivate you to start and keep going despite your fears.
3. Give yourself a timeline
If you’re absolutely terrified of taking a career break or setting up a business you might consider giving yourself a timeline. (This can apply to risk in any area of your life by the way).
Let’s take starting a new business as an example. You might say, “OK, I’m scared of starting this business. I’m going to give myself 12 months and if it fails, I’ll get a job or go back to my career.”
This is a good mindset to have on several fronts.
Firstly, we’re talking about an online business here so you don’t have to give up your job. Thanks to the Internet and social media, it’s never been easier to research your market and test your business idea on the side.
In fact, this is what I actively encourage my clients to do because it’s simply too stressful to build a business with little or no capital, especially if you’re struggling to pay your bills as well.
But once the business starts generating enough revenue you can reduce your hours or walk away completely from your career.
Secondly, although you will need to invest in your business it won’t be anywhere near as much as a bricks-and-mortar business or even a franchise. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, the average franchise fee ranges from $10,000 – $100,000 and that’s just the initial cost!
Thirdly, don’t underestimate what can be achieved with an online business in 12 months. Since you won’t have the same overheads as other business models you can be nimbler with your marketing, which could help you grow faster. And if you decide to reinvest your profits back into your business you can scale it further by outsourcing some of the tasks or hiring staff.
The key thing here is when you commit to your new business, really commit to it. Don’t be half-hearted, give it 110% for that 12-month period.
Giving yourself a longer timeline will help you make the leap with confidence because you’re taking a long-term perspective with your business. You’re not expecting overnight success so your risk is a calculated one. This is far better than an “all or nothing” approach where you expect success in 30 days.
4. Stop thinking too much
Yes, you need to make smart, thoughtful decisions. But it is possible to overthink everything.
You’re probably very good at your job and your intelligence has probably got you where you are today. But in business, overthinking can keep you stuck. It’s almost as bad as not thinking things through at all.
I know what this is like because I used to be a chronic over-thinker. I would research things to death and play worst-case scenarios to myself before I would act.
Of course, this was just my fear talking.
Thinking will not overcome fear but action will.
~ W. Clement Stone
My perfectionism paralysed me from taking any action at all. This held me back for years until I learned how to overcome fear and leap before I was ready.
Therefore, my advice to you is to do your research, but also trust your instincts.
If you have a hunch that what you’re doing is the right thing for you then do it. There is no one right way to start an online business. Everyone’s different so you have to play to your strengths and talents as well as take into account the kind of lifestyle you want and the business model that would suit you.
For some people, it’s a service-oriented business like coaching or consulting. For others it’s a product-driven one like ebooks or cosmetics.
Find the right formula for you then stick to it. See it through for at least a year before you decide whether to continue or not.
There are no guarantees in life, but living a life of fear is no way to spend your time. In my opinion, it’s far better to try and fail at something than to look back at your life and wonder what could have happened if you had only overcome your fear and taken that first step.
What has helped you to overcome fear? Please share your experiences in the comments below, it may help someone in our community.