We all have passions, visions, and tons of ambitions we want to pursue. As a young millennial with high hopes, you want to become your own boss, but something is holding you back, whispering in your ear, “You can’t start that business because there’s too much risk involved.”
You want to become a powerful public speaker, but your inner voice keeps discouraging you. “Don’t even try that. Your voice is terrible.” You want to become a brave soldier, but again that something inside your soul is stopping you, “You can’t even run three miles; don’t deceive yourself.”
The fear in you is stopping you. It’s a barrier to your success. While experiencing some fear is inevitable, there are some smart ways to control your fear.
Here are the top five exercises that will help you cure your fear once and for all:
We all have fear. We don’t want to stand in front of hundreds of people to do a presentation. We don’t want to engage in difficult conversations. We don’t want to keep up with our cardiovascular exercises even though they are good for us.
But do you know the difference between the fearful and the fearless ones? It’s constant practice. The fearful would rather complain about going outside their comfort zones. The fearless folks practice doing the uncomfortable things until they become comfortable at doing them. You want a plan for curing your fear? Practice doing the things that scare you.
If, for example, you’re afraid of running a marathon, practice for a marathon by jogging every day in your neighborhood. Then improve upon that by increasing the distance, whether in your neighborhood or on a running track. That’s how you’ll slowly make your way toward becoming a marathon runner. It’s tough, by the way. You need to be laser-focused to resist the urge to quit. That’s the next exercise!
“The more you seek the uncomfortable, the more you will become comfortable.” – Conor McGregor
Start practicing for that marathon, and you’ll soon notice that it’s not easy. There’s many challenges along the way such as the discomfort of waking up every day to run, the intensity of the exercise, and the stress of making sure you achieve your goal. Here’s the hard, naked truth: These things won’t go away.
However, if you stay patient and focused on the exercise, the stress will morph into passion. You’ll start to like the action that you once hated. So don’t pay much attention to the result. As the productivity guru Robin Sharma beautifully puts it, “release your attachment to outcome.”
If you’re practicing to be fearless about running a marathon, don’t be obsessed about the fame that the exercise will bring you. That thought will not get you there. Instead, focus on the small act of running every day. Stay focused even when you fail.
You’ll fail as you train to be brave. You’ll stumble. You’ll get hurt. People will laugh at you. Through all of this, you have to embrace the mess. You can’t quit. It takes time and guts to beat your fear and get comfortable at doing the thing that scares you.
I remember when I did my first presentation in my first year at college. I stammered, stumbled, and was afraid. My classmates laughed at me. I was so embarrassed that I wanted to quit school after that.
However, my professor pushed me really hard and encouraged me to keep going. “When you stumble, that is not the end of the world,” he told me as he sat with me in his well-polished office. “You dust yourself off. You get up and do it again.”
“Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.” – Jack Ma
4. Do it again
Life is like a boxing ring, no matter how well-trained you are, no matter how skilled, no matter how powerful, you’ll take a lot of punches. In fact, if you’re not lucky, you’ll get a dozen punches in the face, and they’ll break your nose, chin and jaw.
But what happens when you suffer a lot in the ring? You dust yourself off. You rise up. You keep going. You don’t quit. Why? Because your opponent, too, is vulnerable. If you “do it again,” keep the game going instead of quitting, chances are, your good times will come. Your opponent will get tired, and you’ll leverage that to give him several blows.
Life is an arena full of uncertainty. You don’t stop because of fear, you keep going to beat that fear. It’s important that you learn to improve your swings as you go.
How do you learn from the superstars? Start by reviewing yourself. Notice your strengths and your weaknesses. Observe the things that scare you, understand why they terrify you, and then turn to your heroes to see how they do things better than you.
You also need to put what you have learned into practice. Not the common kind of practice, mind you. You do what Anders Ericsson called “deliberate practice—carefully practicing a specific skill to get better at it.” In the end, it’s not just about beating your fear. It’s about making your world a better place.