1. You’re afraid of failing.
The truth is that the bigger your dreams, the more difficult it is to live up to your expectations. As a result, it becomes easier not to try at all in order to avoid pain, disappointment, and rejection. You’ll never discover how far you could have gone.
Still, you shouldn’t let these fears stop you. Why? Because choosing to do nothing is the costliest decision of all. Everyone faces pivotal moments in their lives, and it’s up to you to gather the courage to pursue your goals.
The media likes to highlight accomplishments and the “overnight successes”, while downplaying the dedication it took to get there. But anything worthwhile takes work. Successful people face many failures and difficulties before they accomplish anything notable.
So when something doesn’t work out the way you want it to, instead of seeing it as a failure, view it as a lesson. It’s an opportunity to learn from and to revise for the future. Because the next time you try something, you’ll have learned what not to do.
2. You might end up successful beyond what you imagined possible.
Even though it’s not discussed nearly as often, fear of success is just as relevant as a fear of failure. Success could mean seeking to improve your relationship, your own personal development, or finding your career path. Whatever success you choose to focus on, embrace the fact that success comes with change.
Change can be uncomfortable, but it also means that you are growing. It’s important to acknowledge the discomfort you feel as part of the process, rather than ignore it. Recognizing that you feel uncomfortable, nervous, or anxious about growth is a strong first step to finding a way to manage it.
When I first launched my blog, I felt excited, energetic, and nervous, all at the same time. I was worried partially because of the fear of failing, but also because I was afraid of what would happen if I was successful. All sorts of questions would pop up: if I reached a certain level, how would I deal with this issue? What if I felt swamped and overwhelmed?
In effect, I was over-planning for all these problems that didn’t even exist yet. From an outsider’s perspective, all these questions might seem silly. But to me, they were very realistic and created unnecessary stress. So I decided to manage these worries by acknowledging two things:
• Yes, my worries could potentially be issues that I would have to deal with in the future.
• Right now, I don’t have to deal with these issues. When the time comes, I will find a way to overcome these obstacles. But not now.
We find ourselves planning so far ahead in our minds that it paralyzes us from taking any action. Instead of focusing on what we can do now, we worry about something we don’t have control over.
A better method would be to focus on today, because that’s all we have. Fight the fires that need to be put down today. Recognize the potential worries that may come up in the future, but don’t put energy into something you can’t fix right now.
3. People will judge what you choose to do.
Growing up, we’re often told that we can choose to pursue anything we want. I used to believe that no matter what career path I took, people around me would cheer me on and support my endeavors.
But reality can be quite different. In life, there will be people who don’t celebrate your successes. Some people will be envious of your progress, while others might be genuinely concerned about your well-being. People may disapprove of what you do, even if it brings positive value to the world.
It’s tempting to get worn down by what others say, think, or feel. They can erode who you are and what you stand for. And if you let them, you’ll end up choosing to do what others want out of you, rather than yourself.
So I say: let them. Let people say or think what they want about you. You can’t stop anyone from forming opinions about you. It might hurt in the beginning, but things will get better. As you walk on your own journey, you’ll come to realize that how people feel is usually a reflection of themselves, not you.
4. You just can’t let go of things.
Imagine back when you were ten years younger. Everything seemed much simpler, didn’t they? Back then, you had fewer responsibilities and life was easier. It’s easier to cling onto the past than to face the reality of the present, which can hinder your development.
The same can apply to people, places, and things. Sometimes, we want to hold onto something from the past, which influences us to make decisions that don’t align with what’s right for ourselves at the moment.
Letting go is something we all need to do in our lives. It doesn’t mean forgetting a memory or pretending something didn’t happen. It’s about appreciating something for what it is, whether it’s a past relationship, or where you used to live.
At the same time, you know what’s right for you in the present. While something or someone who was good for you in the past, they might not be what you need now.
In truth, letting go is liberating. It frees us of our burdens, the past, and unnecessary worries. When you let go, you simply carry the knowledge that you can choose to shape your present and future.
5. You won’t fit in with your peers.
Jim Rohn once said: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
This statement is a pretty strong one. And it speaks volumes about how the people around us influence our lives.
The people we interact with on a daily basis define what we see as the norm. If you do something unusual from your friends and family, it’s going to feel strange, even if no one calls you out on it. Whatever your peers decide to do, it’s going to make an impact on you.
People catch on fairly quickly if you act differently from them, which means you’ll drift apart from certain people in your life. This is why it’s easier to fit in. Doing what everyone else is doing makes it easier to keep the same company.
Instead of trying to fit in somewhere you don’t want to be, create a new norm. Spend more time with people whose goals and dreams align with your own. Many communities and groups exist for like-minded people to share, grow and inspire one another.
If you spend time with those who choose to build each other up, you’ll find that fitting in will help you become your best self.
6. You’re afraid of being by yourself.
Ultimately, we all want to be loved, cherished and respected. We want people to appreciate us and the work we do. Sometimes, though, our desire to be with others conflicts with the aspirations we have. To be successful in any area means doing what most aren’t willing to do.
Success can be lonely because most people aren’t prepared to do the hard work needed to achieve something. The struggles you face along the way can be isolating as fewer people understand what you are going through. As a result, it’s easy to assume that your problems are unique.
The good news is: they’re not. Every problem you’ve ever faced has been encountered and dealt with by someone in the past. Other people have been through your situation. The details might take a slightly different form or shape, but overall, your problems are probably similar to someone else’s.
You’re not as alone as you think. At every stage in your life and progression, there are people who have been through what you’re facing and found a way to push past their difficulties. And if someone else can do it, you can find a way out, too.
7. Wasting time and energy keeps you from trying.
“I’m afraid that time is passing me by, and I’ll have nothing to show for it.”
Those were the words of a reader who was looking to pursue a different career. I think these words resonate deeply with many of us. As we get older, we realize that time is a finite resource that needs to be used preciously. If time is spent pursuing one thing, then that presents an opportunity cost for something else.
But instead of asking yourself whether you should do something, instead ask yourself what would happen if you chose not to? What would be the consequences?
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, says that his decision to leave his high-salaried job to create a start-up became very easy when he used the “regret minimization framework”. This is how it works: imagine your future self at age 80. Looking back at your life, how would you feel if you had decided to go ahead and pursue a goal? Would you regret if you chose not to?
If choosing not to do something would likely lead to regret at age 80, the answer is clear: taking the plunge is better than not trying at all.