Act, Despite Your Fear

I’m about to set off on a new adventure. And I’m going to be honest with you: I’m a little scared. What if the problem I’m pursuing is too small, what if the solution I’m building is all wrong, what if my funds dry up before revenues start coming in, what if my enthusiasm wanes, what if this, what if that…

What if I scare myself out of actually starting by replaying all these “what if” scenarios in my head?

You’ve heard this story before. You know where I’m going with this. It all comes down to fear.

Fear of not being good enough, particularly fear of not being good enough in the eyes of others, is what’s causing my anxiety.

And so I need a reminder. A reminder of why I even started this journey in the first place.

Just over a month ago, I intentionally made the decision to begin facing some of my longstanding fears head on. I purposefully selected blogging as the medium (pun intended) I’d use to confront these things. I opted into a rigorous writing routine, in order to strengthen my muscles of vulnerability and authenticity. Overall, I aimed to heal my insecurities, doubts, and remnants of imposter syndrome, and transcend to a higher realm of self-love, true confidence, and inner peace. And in doing this, I hoped to use my learnings to help others.

But let’s be real.

Embarking on this journey and doing “the courageous thing,” doesn’t actually mean I always feel courageous.

Often times, right up until I press that “publish” button, I feel everything but courageous.

But I do it anyway. I act, despite my fear.

And that’s the part that makes being courageous so hard. You won’t necessarily feel good about it in that moment, but you have to lean on your faith. You have to believe that if you take this chance, if you do what you think you cannot do, if you face your fears…you will be stronger, wiser, and more capable because of it.

So as I’m trying to muster up my own courage to follow through on launching my next venture — despite all the fears I surely do have — I am remembering a great strategy that was once shared with me.

It’s a simple tool that helps me develop courage.

Containing three simple parts, this tool helps me recall all those times in my past when I was afraid or uncertain, yet I acted despite of that fear, and in the end, I was better for it. It’s a tool that reminds me that no matter what doubts are entering my mind today, that if I continue to listen to my inner voice, and trust my ability to maneuver whatever life throws at me, I will continue to be OK. Everything will continue to work out in my favor.

The tool I’m referencing is called “Connect the Dots,” and I want to share it with you. I hope it helps you continue to act too, despite your fears.

3 Steps to Connect the Dots

1. List out the pivotal times in your life when you were afraid or doubtful

Here are some examples from my life:

Attempting to walk on to the NC State Women’s Soccer Team when the roster was already full

  • Fears: I’m not as good as these other players. I won’t make the team. I’m taking a big risk by moving to Raleigh without even knowing if I’ll be able to play on the team.

Picking up the pieces after my father’s unexpected death

  • Fears: I won’t ever get over this. I don’t know how to live without him. I can’t be as good without him. I don’t know who I am without him. I don’t understand the point of living, if we’re just going to die.

Moving across the country by myself to set-up a new life in Los Angeles

  • Fears: I don’t know anyone there. I don’t have a job. I may not like it. I’m going to be all alone, without my family or friends.

Breaking up with my boyfriend after four years

  • Fears: I may not find anyone better. Maybe it’s me; maybe I just suck at relationships. All guys are ___. I’m not as loveable as I thought I was.

Dropping out of my Ph.D. program to pursue my startup

  • Fears: I already invested so much time and money to get here; it’ll be a waste if I leave. I’m taking a huge risk. We may fail. This is so hard. People probably think I’m crazy.

Shutting down my startup

  • Fears: People will look at me like I’m a failure. People will question my commitment to solving this problem. It will be hard to start over somewhere else. It’ll be embarrassing.

2. List out what you learned/gained from going through those experiences

Attempting to walk on to the NC State Women’s Soccer Team when the roster was already full

  • Key Learning: I can compete with the best of them.

Picking up the pieces after my father’s unexpected death

  • Key Learning: Our time here is limited. I want to live my life to the fullest, and I want to prioritize my relationships with my loved ones.

Moving across the country by myself to set-up a new life in Los Angeles

  • Key Learning: I am able to build a life I love in new and different places.

Breaking up with my boyfriend after four years

  • Key Learning: How I treat myself sets the standard for how others treat me; I must love myself, first and foremost.

Dropping out of my Ph.D. program to pursue my startup

  • Key Learning: I do not have to pursue the traditional path in order to be successful.

Shutting down my startup

  • Key Learning: I dictate what failure and success mean to me; not others. I am able to bounce back, no matter the setback.

3. Highlight how going through those experiences prepared you for what you were about to undertake next

Attempting to walk on to the NC State Women’s Soccer Team when the roster was already full

  • If I hadn’t gone to NC State, I may have never developed the confidence and leadership skills I have today.

Picking up the pieces after my father’s unexpected death

  • If I hadn’t lost a parent, I may have never had the appreciation for life and my loved ones that I do today.

Moving across the country by myself to set-up a new life in Los Angeles

  • If I hadn’t moved by myself, I may have never understood how capable I am at figuring things out and learning how to survive.

Breaking up with my boyfriend after four years

  • If I hadn’t broken up with my boyfriend, I may have never made room for someone better to come into my life.

Dropping out of my Ph.D. program to pursue my startup

  • If I hadn’t dropped out of my Ph.D. program, I may have never been exposed to the power of entrepreneurship and innovation to affect change.

Shutting down my startup

  • If I hadn’t shut down my startup, I may have never gotten the opportunity to learn from other entrepreneurs and apply those learnings to what I know today.

That’s it. Three simple steps to remind yourself no matter how fearful you may feel in this moment, you are equipped to handle it. Three simple steps to remind you that by facing your fears, you will discover something valuable that will surely serve you in the next phase of your life.

But let me be clear: I’m not saying everything in your life is going to work out perfectly, or that when you look back, all the pieces will fit together flawlessly. What I am saying is that…

Whenever you are faced with a moment of fear or doubt, you can choose to look back on the past experiences of your life for inspiration.

Knowing that you’ve been there before — moments of great doubt, fear, and uncertainty…Knowing that you’ve not only come out of those experiences alive, but equipped with valuable life lessons and skills…This is where you can draw your strength; this is where you can renew your faith. Faith that you are equipped and capable of handling anything that comes your way. Faith that you are on the right path. Faith that everything will, in fact, be OK.

Just continue to act, despite your fear.

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