Can I really do this?
Am I crazy?
What will others say?
It was 3 years ago, as I sat in my home alone, in the evening. I had spent the previous 4 years of my life teaching in the inner city of Los Angeles, California.
I was burnt out, depressed and overwhelmed.
Fear is debilitating.
The major problem so many of us run into is that we are so afraid of the ambiguity of leaving our current life behind, that we are willing to choose depressed, unhappy, and overwhelmed over “not sure what I’ll do now”.
This fear stops us dead in our tracks. It allows us to stay in a job we hate, settle in an unhappy relationship, and to bury our dreams in the sand.
At the core of this is one major problem: You are an incredible human being with phenomenal potential. You are designed to live an amazing life. Yet, the only way to make this happen is to push through your fear. Your fear is killing your opportunity to live the life you were meant to live.
Use Fear to Guide Your Life’s Path
I know what it’s like to doubt yourself, to feel insecure in everything you do. I know what it’s like to wake up each day, with no clue why I was put on this earth. But I also know what it’s like on the other side.
Not too long ago I was a depressed, burnt out, overwhelmed teacher. At some point I became sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I decided to do that which I feared most. I decided to follow my dream: to become a ninja…
Fast forward 3 years. Now, I live in Kyoto, the historical capital of Japan. I train extensively in martial arts, 4 hours a day 5 days a week. My body aches, my mind wavers… But my heart is filled with a joy I never knew possible.
I share this story with you – not to brag, but to show you it is possible to go from lost, confused, and debilitating fear to living your dream.
I live in a strange land, where I can’t speak the language, don’t quite understand the culture, and often eat foods I don’t know. But rather than running from my fear I have used it to guide my path. Fear has become my guide along this journey.
Fear doesn’t have to overwhelm you. It can do the opposite – it can be like a lighthouse, pulling you in the right direction.
5 Steps to Turn Overwhelming Fear into Your Life’s Plan
Below are 5 steps to take a fearful situation in your life, and to use it to guide your path.
Step 1: Write it Down
The first step is to take your fear and put it on paper. It’s easy to get caught up in a vicious cycle of doubt, insecurity, and overwhelm. The nature of fear is that it kills our rational thought. We start to blow everything out of proportion.
By writing our fears on paper, it begins to look and feel more objective. It’s as if we get to step outside the box and observe it. Write as much as feels comfortable. Maybe, you write a sentence or two, maybe you write a paragraph.
Step 2: Identify The Perfect Outcome
Now, look at your written fear. What would be the ideal outcome?
Instead of “You lose all your money, go homeless, and get disowned by your parents” what would be more ideal?
Don’t get caught up in what is possible. Just focus on the perfect outcome. This is very important because it will start to give you a sense of direction.
If you want to solve a problem, you need to know the ideal solution. By identifying the perfect outcome it will also have a calming effect because it shows you there is alternative to this fear.
Step 3: Brainstorm 20 Possible Actions
Now, that you know the perfect outcome we get to start with the fun stuff. Look at your perfect outcome. Come up with 20 possible actions you can take that can lead to this outcome.
Now, here is thing – don’t worry if it’s possible or not. The key here is to get your creative juices flowing. Even though your first 15 actions might be absurd, one of these might lead to the 16th idea, which turns out to be the best action.
Just write, write, and write some more. If you can come up with more than 20 then go for it. But no less than 20.
Step 4: Take 1 (and only 1) Action
Now, look at your list of 20 possible actions. Choose the 1 action you think is the best given your current situation.
Don’t think too hard about this. The focus is on moving in a direction. This step is incredibly empowering. One of the things that is so disempowering about fear is that it makes us feel helpless. By taking 1 action you will begin to feel in control.
Also, as you will see in the next step, it’s not a huge deal if this is “the right step”. It’s more important that you just take a step.
Step 5: Act, Reflect, Adjust
This last and final step is your bread and butter. After you take action and get some results then at some point you need to reflect on the results. Ideally you want to do this at minimum once a week (and in some cases daily). I always ask myself these 3 questions:
- What should I keep doing?
- What should I stop doing?
- What should I start doing?
The first question tells you which actions to keep doing. The second question tells you what to stop doing. The third question identifies your new actions.
Next, you need to adjust your plan based on your answers to these 3 questions.
From here on out continue to focus on acting, reflecting and adjusting. If you do this on a regular basis you will destroy your fear.
For The Comments
What fears are currently holding you back? How can you use this process to destroy your fears?