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Why we play small – how to overcome our fears and succeed

“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”

So many of us have great ideas in us but for some reason, we don’t take action to make them happen. Or we decide not to go take the next step in our businesses. To stay safe and comfortable where we are.

Why do we hold ourselves back instead of moving forward with our ideas?

For most of us, it usually comes down to fear.

Why we play small - how to overcome our fears and succeedFear #1: I might fail.

What if our idea doesn’t work? People will know I’ve failed, I’ll be embarrassed. I’ll lose money.

How to overcome this fear:

Spend some time thinking about your fear of failure and get specific. Is it about money, how people perceive you or the risk that something you’ve dreamed about might not work out.

Write these fears down. Set a 7-minute time and spend some time journaling. You’ll start to spot the negative thought patterns that are holding you back. Spot the fears that are holding you back and not serving you.

Becoming aware of these thoughts will help you start to break them down and overcome them.

Of course, there might some fears that relate to legitimate risks that you need to take into consideration.

For example, what can you do to help take away some of the financial risk? Can you find a mentor or business coach – someone who’s been there, done that and can help guide you?

You need to invest in yourself and your business or you will stagnate. What small steps can you start making to move yourself in the right direction?

Fear #2: I’m not good enough.

We compare ourselves to others and wonder if anyone will want to pay us for what we can offer.

How to overcome this fear:

I find going to networking events really helps with this. Talk to people, tell them your ideas and get feedback. It’ll remind you that you’re good at what you do!

Networking will help you find your tribe. These are people who support you and who you can bounce ideas off of. This is particularly important if your business is just you. We lose perspective when we spend too much time on our own!

Your tribe will also become your cheerleaders. Telling you and others about how great you are at what you do!

Fear #3: I don’t know how to make it happen!

You’ve got a great idea but you don’t have all the pieces you need to go and make it happen right now.

How to overcome this fear:

Make a list of the skills and knowledge you need to make your idea happen and #dothething. Which ones are you missing? Next, do some research and find out if you can fill in the gaps with a course, workshop or reading. In some cases, finding a business coach or people to collaborate with could be the right move.

Remember – No one knows it all! The smart ones ask others for advice.

Fear #4: What happens if I succeed?!

Your life and business could change and change can be scary, even it’s a positive change! We like to stay where we feel safe and comfortable and things are predictable! You might also be afraid of the work you have to put in or new things you’ll need to learn.

Another common aspect of this fear is the worry of standing out and being noticed. Will people think you’re arrogant or money hungry?

How to overcome this fear:

Use this visualization. Instead of focusing on potential negative results, focus on all of the positive things that could happen. And let’s be honest, it’s more likely that pursuing your ideas and dreams will result in positive results than the negative possibilities you’ve been focusing on.

What would your life and business look like? How would you feel? Get super specific when using visualization techniques and they’ll be more effective.

You might want to have some sessions with a business coach or a therapist to deal with the worry of how you’ll be perceived. This tends to be rooted in our own negative beliefs about ourselves rather than actual reality.

You should also think about the good you could do with your success  -it’s not just you who could benefit. Perhaps you could be a mentor and share your skills. You might inspire others!

Resources I recommend:

  • Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. It’s sold millions because it works!
  • The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith by Gabrielle Bernstein – A good option if you’re spiritual or looking to use the law of attraction to change your mindset.
  • Our latest podcast episode from The Simplifiers, featuring Dr Dana Marrocco – The Top 10 Lies We Tell Ourselves and How to Stop Living Them:

Why are you letting your fears hold you back from living your best life?


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