“Here it comes”, writes Mark Hermann in his excellent blog, “That four letter F word…(cue the scary music)..
More specifically, the fear of rejection.”
I’ll take this a bit further and purport it is the fear of failure that stops us from achieving our dreams.
Mark’s post is an open letter to all the bloggers cluttering the web with forgettable content, but there’s a great deal of wisdom and psychology in what he writes, and it is relevant to most of us. The fear of failure or of rejection can strike any of us when we dream big.
When you were little, you dreamed big. Now that you’re older, you may find you’ve quashed those dreams, or “settled” for second- or third-best. As a child you were wide-eyed with wonder and believed you could do anything. You dreamed of becoming a princess or a fireman, as if, somehow that would magically happen.
As children we aren’t necessarily taught how to make our dreams a reality. Children believe the magic will make their dreams come true. Often though, children aren’t taught that hard work and effort are required to make our Big Dreams a reality. In our youngest years we need to be learning the skills that will help us to overcome the FEAR of rejection and failure and how to take action when we experience that fear.
Our parents and our teachers did the best job they knew how to do. They tried to instill in us the ability to dream big. And for a while we were able to dream big and chase after our dreams. Do you remember those amazing years from age 16-24? You knew everything (I know I did) and you could do anything! You were truly invincible. But sometimes people doubted you could be that clever, they quashed your creativity and enthusiasm, they questioned your intelligence and started to make you doubt yourself. Fear started to creep in.
What if I’m not right/clever/best?
What happens next?
Doubt starts to creep in. What if, after another 4 years of training, the next Olympic event is not a win? What if the Olympian disappoints her fans? This is the kind of thinking that starts to divert the athlete from the ultimate goal. This is where the fear of failure begins to cripple.
Where our parents and teachers may have failed was to teach us how to take rejection, how to bounce back from failure, how to continue to surge forward, how to make those dream a reality.
Often I feel that by the time you’ve lived through your ‘invincible’ years (teens to early adulthood), you start to feel you’ve done so much that it’s time to ‘settle down’.
Procrastination and avoidance, dreaming and planning, then start to keep us from doing the most important things we need to do in order to move closer to our Big Dreams?
So how do you overcome procrastination and fear?
You need to DO something… anything
One common reasons we procrastinate in progressing our Big Dreamsis that the tasks on the to-do list are too ambiguous. Take one thing you’re procrastinating on, and define the very next thing you have to do to get it done. This will make the task less ambiguous, and it will also give you a kick in the butt to get it done. Rinse and Repeat.
Now, how do you take that first step. How do you move from the goal setting and planning stage to the DOING and ACHIEVING phase?
How do you overcome the fear of failure? Fear can paralyze you. Well, with inaction comes more procrastination. So doing nothing toward achieving your goals is going to paralyze you.
“Here’s what you’ve got to do,” the gurus say. “You’ve got to make “IT” a habit. Simply drum up the discipline, DO “it” for 21 days straight and voila! You’ve started a new habit and are well on your way to success.” It is a great idea and it really does work! Identify that small little thing that, when it is a habit, can move you every day toward your dream or goal.
Eradicate your Bad Habits
You mustn’t only develop new good habits, you also need to look at the activities in your life that have become habitual, and understand how these habits prevent you from progressing your goals. Bad Habits can be as simple as habitually checking Facebook, being distracted by the “new email” notification, smoking, watching uninteresting TV because you “need a break”. When looking at your bad habits, you need to realize that you can’t change something until you identify it and accept its presence in your life. That means you need to work out the triggers that cause you to slip in to those bad habits.
Everyone can recommend a strategy that has worked for them, but the fact of the matter is that there’s no “one-size-fits-all” strategy. You need to find a strategy that works for you.
Isn’t it time to start building new habits you would love to be proud of and share with the world? Isn’t it time you identify those bad habits that are stopping you from making progress on achieving your Big Dreams?
What are you waiting for?! You have the tools! Start systematically approaching your habits – good and bad – to achieve your goals today.
The fear will grip you, but DREAM BIG YOU MUST.
delightful ceramic desk plaque by C R Gibson called
Read about Steve Job’s Big Dreams here.