Fear

Is The Fear of Success Holding You Back?

For those of you who subscribe to the Blog, you may have received an email asking you about the fear that keeps you stuck. The fear that holds you back from living the life of your dreams. I’ve received thousands of responses from people of all ages from around the world (Thank you!) While the specific stories may differ, the same 3 fears pop up time each time:

  1. The fear of being alone.
  2. The fear of failure.
  3. The fear of success.

Today, I’d like to explore the fear of success. As the flip-side of the fear of failure, it often leads to self-sabotage, self-depreciation, and ironically, failure. Let me explain:

When I first started my business, I was afraid of failure. The Forbes statistic that 80% of small businesses fail in the first 18 months was ingrained in my mind. Couple that with a NYC rent and the fear of failure became a constant companion, traveling with me everywhere I went. Any decision or action was clouded by this fear. While this alone was a problem, the bigger issue was my inability to accept success. Any time something good would happen: a new article, a new client, or a new media opportunity, I’d get stuck. Having set myself up for the worst case scenario at all times, I couldn’t accept that good things were happening. Success made me anxious and uncomfortable because it challenged every belief I had about my situation, my life, and myself.

Initially, in an unconscious attempt to return to my more comfortable (yet uncomfortable) reality, I’d self-sabotage. Then, when reality was more aligned with my limiting belief system, I’d feel safe and unhappy again. WTF?!

Here’s why that happened:

  1. As humans, we’d rather be right than be happy. We tend to prefer the safety and certainty of a world we know rather than change our beliefs, even when it’s a positive change.
  2. We feel undeserving. When our reality shifts quicker than our limiting beliefs, we may feel that we can’t accept abundance. As a result, we shun it.
  3. We’re afraid it won’t last so we find evidence and take actions that will confirm and recreate our fears on our timeline telling ourselves, “see, I knew it wouldn’t last. I was right all along.”

So what do you do about this?

  1. Stop judging it. Labeling things as good or bad often gets in the way of our ability to experience it. 
  2. Write it down as evidence. We have antenna that selectively pick up information that confirms our worst fears. Begin amassing evidence to the contrary.
  3. Savor it. Notice the feelings, the sights, and the sounds you associate with your success. 
  4. Create a new reality. How does this success challenge your belief about yourself? For example, when I get an especially thoughtful email from a reader, I soak it in and save it. I reread it often to reprogram my belief system from “I’m a failure” to “I’m helping others live their best lives.”
  5. Prioritize self-care. Even good transitions are stressful. Be sure to maintain the self-care practices that make you feel your best.

You deserve to be successful and happy. If you’re ready to get out of your own way, click here.

How To Stay Hopeful About the Future (even when you're convinced it will suck)

We all go through times where we’re hyper-focused on the negative rather than the positive. I was chatting with a friend recently who said that as soon as he doesn’t hear back from a potential client, his mind begins to cycle to all the possible outcomes. Needless to say, all these hypotheticals result in him going bankrupt, staying single, and sharing canned beans with his dog as he lives under a bridge. Of course, 24 hours pass, he hears back, and bridge crossers need not fear the toll-demanding troll.

But all this got me thinking about optimism and faith. How do we stay hopeful about the future when our minds spin faster than a hamster on a wheel? Here’s how to remain optimistic (even when you’re convinced everything sucks):

1. Imagine how you’d like your future to look.

Most of us have no idea what we want, but we have a nagging feeling that we don’t have it. But since it’s “too hard” to figure out what we actually want, we keep spinning our wheels. Does that make any sense at all? Not really, but we keep doing it anyway. Having a clear sense of what you want evokes excitement and motivates you to get shit done. Vision gives you a reason to push through discomfort and energize you with positive thoughts for tomorrow, regardless of what today looks like.

2. Move through fear.

The unknown is a lot like my parents’ basement. It’s dark, has a lot of crap, and has a faint smell of mold (I think we need to look into that!) I avoid their basement because I think something’s lurking down there. Is that rational? Not really. Do I bring my 10 lb dog with me to protect me anyway? Hell yeah! The point is that when we approach the unknown or future with our natural desire to feel safe and in control, we hold ourselves back. We can’t control the future, but we can control our mind-set. Letting go of past experiences is like a spiritual reset button. It might not change what happened, but it removes the event’s power from hurting you in the future. Until you make peace with your past, it will continue to shape your future.

3. Stop brainwashing yourself.

Our thoughts are powerful incantations that direct our worldview. Talking to yourself and others about what you can’t do becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you’re hyper-focused on fails, it’s virtually impossible to create a win, let alone be hopeful. So the next time you want to complain about how you’ll never get a raise, remember that you’re the one casting the spell.

4. Stay Present.

Quit future-tripping. When we feel overwhelmed, we assume that tomorrow will be more of today. We tend to live in the future when there’s something we’re avoiding in the moment. Stay present! Is there an action you can be taking to create your happy ending? (No, not that kind!)

5. Reach out.

When I see myself speeding into crazy town, I engage in some sort of pattern interrupt. That refers to anything that gets me out of my own head. For some it’s exercise, for others it’s simply calling a friend. My personal favorite way to remain hopeful is to be of service. It can be anything from helping a friend to volunteering to writing a thank you note. Helping others empowers you to focus on the good, engage with others in a positive way, and be an all-around awesome person.

 

Like Dumbledore said, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” And since I take all my life advice from fictitious characters, I’m confident that everything will work out better than planned.

How do you remain hopeful? Share your tips in the Comments section below!

Productive Procrastination: Why We Get the Wrong Things Done (and How To Fix It!)

I love distracting myself. I also love being productive. Together, this combines into one of my all time favorite ways of screwing myself over: Productive Procrastination. This is when I do laundry, organize files, and tweeze my eyebrows instead of doing the shit that scares me or puts me out of my comfort zone. At the end of the day, I can half-heartedly give myself a pat on the back. After all, I wasn’t watching TV and eating generic raisinets all day! But lately, all my fake productivity has left me drained. And since action that’s taken from an aligned place leaves us energized and not exhausted, I knew I had to do something about it.

Behind any time management issue is the issue of fear. And fear comes from not having a good enough reason to give up old beliefs that don’t serve us.  Procrastination goes beyond a lack of productivity, it’s the failure to use your personal power, giving up your freedom in the process.

Admittedly, I do it because I think that taking action will be more painful than not taking action. Even if it’s an amazing goal that makes me happy like writing my book or being a badass athlete, when we procrastinate it’s because the pain of the painful action is more real than the positive results. The problem is that the goal isn’t sexy enough, it’s granny panties in a potato sack at best.

So in an effort to get clear on this process (and procrastinate some more) I decided to do a little research. 

  • 80% of Americans don’t set goals
  • 16% of Americans set them, but don’t write them down
  • 3% of people write them down, but never review then

This leaves the top 1% of people who set, write, and review them. Yup, they are the ones who actually get shit done.

I know it’s not New Years. I own a calendar! You’re more than halfway into the year. Are you where you want to be? Or are you still waiting for the magic to happen?

No judgment, I’m in the same boat!

So….here’s what we are both going to do:

Step 1: Complete the following sentence “Wouldn’t it be great if…”

  • Don’t say something ridiculous like “marry Matt Bomer” He’s mine.
  • Don't worry about the "how," it’s the daydream step!

Step 2: Make it measurable and actionable.

  • What are the action steps that get you there?
  • How will you know if you’ve achieved it?
  • Be super clear and break it into small bites

Step 3: Post the goal somewhere you will see it.

  • Bathroom mirror, front door, sharpied onto your toothbrush handle type of places

Step 4: Set a check-in date with yourself and put it in your calendar (or set up a lunch/coffee/chat with a friend for accountability)

  • Yes, set an actual appointment to check in with yourself. That means you clear out an hour and pen it in.
  • Accountability buddies kick ass!

Step 5: If the actions you are taking aren’t getting you the results you want, adjust your course.

  • It isn’t failing just because it isn’t giving you the results you want, you simply need to adjust your actions until you get what you want. Columbus was aiming for India when he found America and for some crazy reason we give him a whole day! (soooooo, tempted to rant on that…..) My point is that action is good, stagnation is bad. Tweak it til you get it.

Remember, it only takes one step to create momentum.

And no amount of laundry can take that away from you.

Need an accountability buddy? Email me at Amita@AlignedHolistics.com