This article is one in the multi-part series entitled The Entrepreneurial Mindset.
Approximately three years ago, I found myself face-to-face with the one thing I had always dreamt of but had been too afraid to pursue. My then-boyfriend, now-husband was offered a job across the country and this was my chance to leave my career in law enforcement and become the full-time writer I had envisioned being since I was a little girl. Although I knew it was the opportunity of a lifetime, I was scared to death.
I think I literally almost “what if’d” myself to death. What if I tried it and failed? What if I wasn’t any good and no one wanted to read my words, my thoughts, my opinion? What if I couldn’t earn enough to pay my share of the bills? What if…what if…what if?
I literally spent months paralyzed in fear. That is, until one day when I decided to overcome my fear and finally take a chance. It certainly hasn’t always been an easy road, but my decision to look my fear in the eye and say “No more” has paid off…and then some.
How did I do it? By employing seven simple, yet extremely effective strategies that I still use today anytime I feel overcome with fear in regard to my career or entrepreneurship. Here they are in case you find yourself riddled with fear from time to time too:
Strategy #1: Focus On What You Stand to Gain
For the longest time, I was completely caught up in everything I stood to lose by following my dream. I thought about the law enforcement-based career that I worked so hard to create coming to an end. I pondered the family and friends I would have to leave behind in order to chase my dreams.
Then, one day, I decided that I was looking at it all wrong. As John F. Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” I needed to embrace the same ideology and think not about what California had to offer me (which I was struggling with), but rather what I had to offer California. That one change in perspective made my decision much easier for me.
Strategy #2: Use Your Fear to Strengthen You
As Gloria Gaynor sings in I Will Survive, you can use the one thing that scares you most and let it motivate you to become stronger. “At first, I was afraid. I was petrified. Kept thinkin’ I could never live without you by my side. But then I spent so many nights thinkin’ how you did me wrong, and I grew strong. I learned how to get along.”
Certainly, she was talking about overcoming the fear of an ending relationship, but this same general rule applies with small business as well. Struggles with owning your own company aren’t there to break you down. They are there to make you stronger. Remember that and let that thought keep you going.
Strategy #3: Have Faith in Yourself
Admittedly, this suggestion isn’t always the easiest to take—especially if you “what if” yourself like I did. However, I honestly believe that you wouldn’t be given a dream if you didn’t have the ability to reach it. Have faith in yourself to make it work, despite the hardships.
Strategy #4: Be Realistic About the Worst Case Scenario
I was sharing my fears of failing at being a writer with a friend who happened to be a Dale Carnegie representative, when he told me something he learned during his training, a piece of advice that you can find on the Dale Carnegie Blog. “Take stock of your fears now and see how many are senseless. If you are honest with yourself you will probably find that most of them are groundless.”
For me, worst case scenario was that I didn’t earn enough to pay the bills initially and I would have to get a part-time job until I did. Certainly, that was doable, so it wasn’t exactly life or death like I had initially imagined. Be honest with yourself as to what is worst case scenario for you. Likely, it isn’t life or death either.
Strategy #5: Create a Plan
Anything can garner fear when you have no plan in place. It is like trying to drive someplace that you’ve never been without a map or GPS. No wonder you’re filled with anxiety and angst!
To calm your fears, sit down with a pen and paper and create a plan that will get you from where you are now to where you want to be. Be as specific as you can because the more you plan for, the fewer surprises you will encounter that can potentially derail you.
Strategy #6: Set a Goal
Just as having a plan can help you overcome your fears, so too can setting a goal. When you are working toward something that you want so bad that you can feel it in every cell in your body, fear often transforms into excitement. Then, you will let nothing stop you until you reach the one thing that you feel will make your career complete.
Strategy #7: Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
Part of what always seemed to put me dead in my tracks was comparing myself and my journey to super-successful legendary icons like Donald Trump and Bill Gates. I’d tell myself that there was no way I was ever going to achieve their levels of success, so why bother?
What I have learned since is just because I walk a different path doesn’t mean that I won’t achieve amazing results. What made those people successful is the fact that they each found their own way, so I needed to also find mine. Just like you need to find yours.
These are the seven strategies I use continuously to overcome my fears and, because of them, I am now in the midst of my second successful career, with multiple books, printed material, and online articles published in my name. Just like I envisioned long ago.
Need more help overcoming your fears? Psychology Today offers a large number of articles on the subject, so pick one that resonates with you and read it, or read them all. Either way, you’ve got nothing to lose, other than fear itself, which is a good thing.