Life is full of uncertainty. Whether we are starting a new venture, launching a new business, or confronting a new or existing health problem, any unknown path can be scary. We might have no idea of what the entire endeavor will entail, and we may not even know where to start.
Sometimes we are stopped before we have even begun – fear can prevent us from taking any action at all. We might not even consciously know it because we justify our lack of action in different ways. My go-to justification for not doing something I want or must do is that I don’t have the time.
There comes a moment, however, when we don’t want to listen to our excuses, and we must take the first step. I have found that the work itself is not what is difficult, it is the anticipation before moving forward. Once I am taking the actions, despite feeling anxiety, the step is always easier than what I had made it out to be. The tricky part is moving past that paralyzing unease and stepping into what can feel like a black void. Here are some ways to move past the fear and get into action.
Education will help you learn from the experiences of others. You might be feeling anxiety simply because you don’t know much about the subject, and you may be fearful of the circumstances as much more complicated than what they are. I recently had a minor health scare, and previously I’d never had any significant health issues. After going through a biopsy, it turns out I must have minor surgery.
The whole process was not easy for me – I know little to nothing about medicine. What helped me deal with the situation was learning about the surgery I will have and that it wasn’t life-threatening, and just as importantly, I learned about what the implications could be if I didn’t have the surgery.
Similarly, for a new venture, knowledge can help you plan better. By educating yourself about what it will involve, you can learn from the mistakes that others have made without having to make them yourself. You will have a better panorama and will likely have an easier time as you complete your new project.
Sometimes, the action you are taking would be easy for you under any other circumstances, yet for some reason, you cannot find the motivation. This situation happened to me when I was first writing and publishing my children’s book. For the life of me, I couldn’t send emails to my illustrator and my publisher without feeling butterflies in my stomach. I have sent thousands of emails over my professional life, yet I couldn’t get myself to take these simple actions because I was afraid of putting my book out in the world.
What helps in these kinds of situations is to take small steps, even micro-actions. If you are writing, begin with just 50 words to get the ball rolling. If you find that you are paralyzed, open a document, and put a title on it – you may find this to be more than enough. Then the next day you do a little bit more, and little by little, the inertia relaxes its grip.
I seldom talk to people about health or other personal problems. This time, I decided to do it differently and told my friends as soon as I found out. Some gave me advice, and others just listened. But mostly, they helped me get through the fear of having to have surgery. I’m still afraid, but I feel more secure in the knowledge of their support.
The same thing happens with your ventures. Taking the first step for a big project or even a new habit can be difficult. Others who have gone through something similar can help you, and you can also do it together! Peer coaching groups can be a great source of permanent support. For more on peer groups, see Peer Coaching and How It Can Benefit Your Business and How to Set Up Your Peer Coaching Group for Success.
It Gets Easier
I believe that it gets easier as we start to notice the anxiety every time that we start something new. It becomes almost like an old friend and we inevitably learn and get better. These new ventures teach us how to deal with whatever life presents us so that we are stronger and more capable in the future.