What would you do if you weren't afraid to fail?
I’ve been devoting a lot of my time to creating content for season 2 of my popular Dream Bigger Goal Setting...
I’ve been devoting a lot of my time to creating content for season 2 of my popular Dream Bigger Goal Setting Program. And while I was working on a unique daily planner yesterday (something special I’m putting together for the women enrolled in the program), I added a question in the introduction section of the planner that I love asking my clients and students.
What would you do if you weren’t afraid to fail?
The answers to that question are often out of the ordinary. When asked, some clients or students tell me they would simply aim for small changes in their lives, while others would go after big dreams. And although everyone has their own personal focus, and most answers are different, there are some things that are true for almost everyone. If they weren’t afraid to fail…
#1. They would all gain confidence and believe in themselves
Knowing that you cannot fail takes away the fear, full-stop. It’s that simple. And, the consequences are pretty amazing. All of a sudden, things that look daring and big and unattainable become normal and totally doable, and you have no doubt that they are meant for you — and that you can and will indeed have what it is that you want.
#2. Their goals wouldn’t really change, but they would jump more easily to achieve them
Almost none of my students or clients ever decide to go for other goals and dreams, rather than the ones they had already set for themselves. The big difference is that they believe that, if they cannot fail, they can go for them faster, without being so careful and without weighing all the options so much. And why not, right? When something is a sure thing, there’s no point in waiting – or being cautious for that matter!
#3. They are all at least a little afraid
And who wouldn’t be, when working on their goals and designing the life they want? It would be so great to know that we cannot fail, but unfortunately we cannot escape uncertainty. And because the outcomes of our efforts is uncertain, and sometimes what we undertake asks so much of us (time, energy, commitment, effort, sacrifice… to name a few), it’s absolutely normal to have fears and moments of doubt.
I’ve become an avid goal-setting and dream pursuer, and I’ve been in business for more than 20 years. Still, I have doubts and fears, and moments when I’m not sure anymore, or times when uncertainty creeps up on me when I expect it the least. And I’m sure you do, too.
But, my guess is that when it comes to your big goals and dreams, most of all you’re afraid to fail. You’re looking at that big mountain in front of you, and you wonder: what if I don’t make it? What if I don’t succeed?
Learn to live your life fearlessly
If you know my personal story, you know I’ve had my share of fears over the years, but at some point I decided I wouldn’t let them rule my life anymore.
Now, I’m not here to say you need to live your life without fear, but I am saying you need to live it fearlessly! Fear is an ancient and primal emotion that has allowed the human race to survive. As such, it’s a powerful emotion. It has protected us from the unsafe and the unpredictable for centuries, and it has allowed us to thrive.
Take note of your flight reflex
But while we’ve evolved, this raw protective instinct of fight or flight did not. And while there might have been a lot of fighting in earlier times, when fear shows up today, we mostly want to run away.
- Like when we know we need to have “the conversation” with someone we care about, but we would rather do anything but.
- Or when we’re undertaking a big dream and things are not going the way we want them to. We expect a certain result (maybe some sales numbers in your business, or validation for your expertise, or recognition as an artist), but something else happens. With a lot of us — I’m no exception, believe me — when that happens, we would love nothing more than to run away from it all. There’s that flight instinct again!
And yes, you’ve got it right, this flight reflex is very present in our lives. More than you’re aware of, I’m sure. Take note of your reactions to situations for a few days, and you’ll get what I mean. It’s everywhere.
But what’s important to understand is that your fear is not against you. It’s just terribly overprotective (and really loves to run too).
Embrace your fears, and do it anyway
Elizabeth Gilbert calls this emotion “Grandfather Fear”. She says to it: “I know you’re scared because I’m going to expansively do something with an uncertain outcome, but we’re going to do it anyway.”
So when fear shows up, don’t take flight. But instead, think about what you would do if you weren’t afraid to fail. Then use that knowledge and confidence to do it anyway.
And when things get tough, remind yourself that being courageous is not being without fear, but rather believing deeply that your happiness lies on the other – fearless side – of life.