3 Questions to Inspire Action in the Face of Fear

I sat at my desk, waiting for the inevitable.

That morning I put my letter of resignation in my boss’ mail bin. He was out of the office at a meeting at the time and I knew it would only be a matter of time before he came back and checked his mail to discover the fact that I had found a new (and better) job.

Normally, I wouldn’t be afraid of something like this, however, my boss had a bit of a temper

(he once yelled at a coworker after a meeting to the point that the other guy actually fainted in the middle of the hallway and they had to call an ambulance to take him to the hospital!).

Every second that ticked by, brought more and more dread to me. I knew that, as time marched forward, the unavoidable moment would come where I would have to have one of those uncomfortable conversations.

Finally, it happened.

The little speaker on the phone at my desk crackled and I heard him say, “Clay, please come to my office.

” My hands were actually starting to shake as I stood up and made the most anxiety-filled walk of my life. What would happen next? Would I be leaving work that day a free man ready to start my new career, or would I be leaving escorted by a few paramedics down to an ambulance?

Fear is a difficult thing to deal with for most people. It can keep us trapped in situations that don’t make us happy. Bad relationships, unrewarding careers, and stifled dreams often come to mind. But, if you want to get unstuck, break away from the shackles of fear, and finally get into action moving toward what you want in life, here are 3 questions you can ask yourself to help put things into perspective:

What is the worst thing that could happen if you do this and fail? 
Understandably, no one wants to focus on the negative. Many of us have studied positivity or personal development for a while now, and we know that you’re always supposed to focus on the good and what you want, right? But let’s be honest here. We don’t always get our way all the time, and no matter how much we focus on the positive, chant affirmations, or do things to lift our spirits, there isn’t a way to get what you want 100% of the time–at least not that I’m aware of (but if you do know a way to get what you want ALL the time, please contact me and let me know!).

There’s always a risk of failure, and it’s important to weigh that risk. Usually, the risk is fairly small (you might not get that date, you might lose a few dollars, or waste a few hours). Other times, the risk may actually be great, and it’s important to get clear on that too (like say if that parachute doesn’t open, you get locked up in prison, or your career or reputation is ruined). Either way, it’s important to really name the worst case scenario here so that you can actually get a real grasp over the thing you dread.

What are the consequences of not doing this? 
It can be difficult to take action and deal with things that frighten us. Often, it can seem easier to simply not take action, but this is a choice in itself with consequences of its own. If you choose to not do anything and keep with the status quo, what will that do to you and your life? What opportunities will you miss out on and regret? How will you feel in 5, 10, or 20 year’s time, looking back and wondering about what could have been?

Many times not acting on a desire to do something can result in a pattern of passivity in our lives. We get accustomed to not taking action and we hesitate, procrastinate, and put off doing things in all areas of our life. Although it may seem easier to just keep going the way you are or put off making that decision for “a little while,” you must realize that this is a decision as well and take note of repercussions of staying on the path you’re already heading down.

What would happen if you tried this and succeeded?
The last question I want you to ask yourself, is what would happen if you actually succeeded at what you’re thinking of doing? Is it worth the effort? Is it worth the effort to muster up the courage and ask that person out, possibly have a joyful relationship, and possibly build a lifetime of memories? Is it worth the effort to embrace your fears and start your own business, earn a comfortable living doing something that you love, and work on your own terms? Is it worth it to finally say enough is enough and start that diet, lose all that weight you’ve felt self-conscious about, and live a longer and healthier life? Chances are, if you really want to do this, there is a huge possible benefit to your life.

If you can focus on the benefit, you will feel much more motivated to move forward and take action than to continue to let fear hold you back.

Weighing Your Options
Once you have the answers to these questions, ask yourself if the possible loss of failure is worth not pursuing the possible success. Is the cost of inaction worth the safety of avoiding the failure? Is it worth the sacrifice of the success? Is the risk of taking the action and possibly getting the success you’re striving for worth possibility of the worst case scenario? There is no way for me to make this decision for you, but once you get clear about the realities of the circumstances, you’ll be in a much better position to make an informed choice. I like to remind myself of a quote from Benjamin Desraili, “Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.” Oh, and for what it’s worth, I left work that day standing on my own two feet. Oftentimes, the worst case scenario never happens.

Written on 7/29/2012 by Clay Andrews. Clay writes for a personal development and relationship advice blog called The Path to Passion, where he shares ideas on how to build a successful relationship by improving on the one thing you can control in your relationship–yourself. Visit The Path to Passion and say “Hi.” He likes meeting new people. Photo Credit: epSoS.de

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