Three Invisible Fears When Starting Something New

What sort of adventures do you enjoy?  Mine are those that require me to be sharp-witted, nimble, and flexible.  To be a real adventure, there has to be some sort of excitement.  As an adult, I often fall into the trap of “Plan Everything”.  But more than excitement, it has to be something that’s actually worthy of my commitment.

You see, I come up with new ideas almost effortlessly.  It’s natural for me to ‘begin with the end in my mind,’ as Stephen Covey recommends.

But it’s rare for me to take time planning every step along the way, carefully considering all possibilities, create a decision matrix the size of Kentucky, and present my ideas to a committee.  That’s just not my style.

Sometimes I don’t even talk to my wife about my new ideas – big mistake.  But that’s another story.

As adventurous as I am, I struggle with self-doubt and I sell myself short from time to time.  More often than I’d like to admit.  As bold as I often am, I have to be honest; I doubt myself.

This is something I’m learning to work through.

Maybe you’re the same way.  Maybe you doubt whether or not some new idea you’ve come up with will actually work.  Did you catch that- you’re doubting whether it will work.  Not whether you’re good enough, smart enough, etc… That’s an important distinction.

Here are a few things that cause me to doubt on a regular basis.  See if they resonate with you:

1- It’s too big.  As in, I’ll never make it that far.  I can’t make something that beautiful.  I can’t possibly endure.  I was recently inspired by Louis Zamperini’s tale as told by Laura Hillebrand in her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Unbroken.  A worthy read.

2- I haven’t planned it out well enough.  This is a valid argument, but you can’t get hung up on all the unforeseen details.  Plan it to the best you know how, then get started.

3- I’m not ‘x’ enough.  It’s easy to think you don’t have enough smarts, strength, endurance, speed, education, connections, or money.  The truth is, we have more than enough.  We just need to remind ourselves from time to time.  

We have to pick ourselves if we’re going to accomplish anything important.  If we’re going to slay the dragon, we must first believe we can.

The best athletes and performers in the world practice their routine mentally, envisioning themselves finishing first, sticking the landing, and nailing every move with graceful bliss.

So how do we overcome these obstacles?  These invisible roadblocks?

  • Brian Tracy says that “we become what we think about most of the time.”  
  • Zig Ziglar taught us that like riding a bicycle, we must focus on where we want to go, not on the obstacles.
  • I recommend we spend silent time focusing on our day and the end results we’ve imagined, instead of the challenges.  Acknowledge the obstacles, but remind yourself you are capable of overcoming them as they appear.
  • Ask for courage, guidance, wisdom and strength.

So I’m curious to know- How do you slay your dragons?  What do you do to ensure you don’t let fear stop you from starting?

Please leave a comment to share.  Thanks for reading.

  • patrickoconnell

    Good stuff my friend. Inspiring.

    • Paul Sidwell

      Thanks for reading, man.

  • Chrissanne Long

    Wow, this is a great post! Thanks for starting this conversation. I might come back to share more thoughts, but I felt compelled to START now…. I have lived an ordinary life. That doesn’t sound too awful, and in reality, I am BLESSED to not have had a horrible tragedy or violent childhood exist to make my life less-than-ordinary. Until recently, I lived in this box I call ordinary and thought that’s where I belonged, but one day, after a lot of sitting on the sidelines, I ventured out and started things… lots of things have happened, but it’s amazing what happened when I stopped listening to the dragons, demons, lizard-brain, or whatever you might call those limiting beliefs that paralyze you.

    Today, I am going to be doing something I dreamed of – sharing my “ordinary” story with others. Only, It’s not ordinary. It’s AWESOME. While I have much to learn and I seek to find answers to the challenges I still face, I have learned one thing very well. When I think I want to do something, but don’t due to my dragons, I regret it. When I do it regardless of the dragons, I feel incredible empowerment and accomplishment. Just by DOING the thing… and that’s not even to mention the fact that the results of my actions are awesome too!

    I think the best way to slay the dragons are to name them – identify the fear and acknowledge it. Publicly… not just in front of the mirror. Because, when you say it aloud you can hear how inaccurate your thoughts are and the dragon is brought back down to size.

    Keep on starting, I am glad to have met a true comrade in dragon slaying!

    • Paul Sidwell

      Chrissanne, yes, it is incredibly amazing when you step out in spite of the voices and urges telling you not to.
      For me, those voices were learned tapes I was playing. Not the right tapes, but the right tapes felt cheesy, like I was forcing them. Probably because I was, because I needed to in order to overcome the old, broken records of bad habit and negative voices playing in my head.
      Since stepping out in search of a better life I’ve made some significantly positive choices in my life. I’m married to an incredible woman, have three super-awesome kids, a great job and am just months away from becoming debt-free.
      Recently I started reading The Slight Edge and it’s opened up my eyes to the power of incremental changes held consistently over time to create a life of unmatched achievement.
      And yeah, you gotta make fun of the fears that are making fun of you. Put them in their place and they’ll shut up, just like any other bully.
      Thanks for stopping by!