All of us have fears that hold us back from taking the actions we know are necessary to achieve our dreams. We’re afraid of doing things that make us feel out of control, or that make us look foolish.
Everyone, even courageous people who have accomplished great things, has come face to face with those fears.
So, how do you address them? More importantly, how do you overcome them?
Because you’re reading this right now, it’s safe to assume your goal is to live your dream of the writer’s life. And because that’s a big goal, you likely have at least a couple fears connected with it.
Maybe you don’t think you’re a good enough writer. You could be terrified you’ll cold-call companies and hear nothing but ‘no,’ or email hundreds of prospects and get zero replies.
These fears are real. They can stop you in your tracks and kill your business before it even gets started.
Let me tell you about a system I’ve developed to tame my fears and transform them into success.
The Rope Swing
When I have to do something I’m afraid of, my first step is to identify my ultimate goal. Then, I find the ‘why’ that’s driving me toward that goal.
I had to do this a few years back when I was on a boating trip with a bunch of teenaged scouts. We rounded a bend in the river and came upon this incredible rope swing hanging from a gigantic tree on the riverbank.
The boys started egging each other on, so we headed for the riverbank. Once we were there, as one of the group leaders, it was up to me to ask who wanted to go first.
Those loud, rowdy boys were suddenly very quiet.
From the river, the rope swing had looked really cool. But from the bank… well, it was a long way up, which meant a long way coming down.
As they started wavering, I realized I would have to make the first move. But there was this one little detail:
I really, really don’t like heights.
On its face, my goal seemed simple: grab the rope swing, hold on, swing out, drop into the water. But to accomplish that, I had to connect my goal with a ‘why’ powerful enough to push me through my fear.
The ‘why’ was I wanted to show those boys it was okay to be afraid of stuff and to move forward anyway. I wanted them to do and have great things in life, and I knew overcoming their fears was part of the equation.
Let’s say you have an action you need to take to move you closer to the writer’s life, but you’re afraid to do it. If your goal isn’t connected to a strong ‘why,’ you’ll probably never have the energy or motivation to accomplish that thing.
Think about why you want the writer’s life. Is it to spend more time with your family? To have the money to live a life free of financial worry and stress?
Take a few minutes to write down all the reasons you want the writer’s life, then pick the one that energizes you or hits closest to your heart. That’s the ‘why’ you’re looking for.
Bridging the Gap
Now comes the hard part: moving through fear into success. This is where you take that big goal and break it down into smaller, achievable actions. Then, every time you bump up against your fear again, you pause and ask yourself these questions:
What is the ‘unknown’ I’m afraid of? And, what is something ‘known’ I can do right now instead?
Let’s go back to that rope swing. I had the goal, and I had a strong ‘why’ for doing it. I mentally ordered myself to get up on that tree, Boswell.
Then, I looked from the tree to the river, and thought: oh man, there’s no way.
I couldn’t go from zero to the rope because my fear of heights was just too much.
I had to bridge the gap from where I was on the ground, to where I was scared to be, high up on the rope swing.
I started by looking for something I knew I could do right then. I saw these planks nailed to the tree. I had climbed a ladder before while working as a roofer (ironic, I know). I was sure I could at least climb up the trunk using that makeshift ladder.
So, I did.
When I got to the top of the boards, I realized if I looked down at the water, or out at the rope, I was back in unknown, scary territory. I had to find something else I knew I could safely do.
I remembered I used to love climbing trees as a kid. Yes, I hadn’t like the heights much. But I had loved being in the tree, holding on to the trunk and sliding my way out onto the branches.
That gave me the confidence to get on my belly and shimmy my way out onto the limb.
When I reached the rope, there I was, back in the scary unknown again. Then, I remembered I had experience working ropes, though it wasn’t in the setting I was in at that moment. It was less of a ‘known,’ but close enough for me to grab the rope and pull it up.
That left me sitting on top of a tree branch, thirty feet above the water, rope in hand. Moment of truth. Nothing left but to take that leap into the unknown.
I held tightly to the rope, slid a little forward, and let gravity take care of the rest.
It wasn’t spectacular or graceful, just a sad sort of slow swing-jump out there.
But I did it.
The boys clapped and cheered. Now that I’d broken the ice, a bunch started climbing up and jumping off. They played for a couple hours on that rope swing.
Not me – once was enough.
But once was all I needed to answer my ‘why’ and achieve my goal.
What’s Your Rope Swing?
I want you to think about your own rope swing. What is a thing on your path to the writer’s life that scares you? The thing that’s become an obstacle because you’re afraid you don’t know how to get past it?
For instance, one of the most common fears I hear from people seeking the writer’s life is they don’t have what it takes to make it. They aren’t good enough at writing, or they don’t have the training and experience they need.
But what if I told you writing skills, while necessary, are not as important as you think they are?
I’ve identified a list of 10 predictors of success as a writer I can send to you today. If you look closely at the list, I’m willing to bet you’ll find at least a few qualities on it that you already possess.
Use these ‘knowns’ as rungs to lift you up to your own rope swing. If you do that, I truly believe you can face any fear you have and conquer it. And on the other side, your dream writer’s life will be waiting.