Dumb Little Man

Reaching a Goal? Here’s 10 Common Fears that May Derail You

There are 2 kinds of fears – instinctive and unnecessary.


1. Instinctive Fear: This is immediate and temporary – the type of fear when you have a near-miss accident. Your fear impulse notifies your brain that then pumps a bunch of adrenaline into your system. Your heart beats fast; you get shaky; you may sweat. But soon it is over and your return to normal.
2. Unnecessary: These are the fears that grip us insidiously – they creep into our thought and often paralyze us, keeping us from moving forward. Yes, there may be real long-term dangers we face (disease, loss of job, etc.) but fear does nothing about them. It merely removes our positivity and optimism.
When you let those fear creep into your consciousness, you can easily get stuck on your path to your goal achievements. It is important to identify them, recognize that you have them, and then take solid steps to dump them and move on. Here are the 10 most common fears people face as they march toward their goals.

Fear of Failure

We all fear failure. Why? Because we would have to accept defeat and face embarrassment if we fail. It then becomes easier not to set those goals – the danger has been removed. But at what price? You will live a life that Thoreau once called “of quiet desperation.” You settle. And you ask yourself many times, “What if I had gone after that dream?”
The Fix: Ask yourself: “What is the worst that could happen?” Will you be dead? Will you be forever ruined? The answer is “no.” Yes, you may be disappointed; you may have to start all over again; yes you may have to listen to those who said, “I told you so.” Well, so did Emerson, Einstein, Gates, and Jobs. You will have good company if you fail!

Fear of the Unknown

The future is not guaranteed. You may be moving into “unchartered waters” as you pursue a goal. You should be cautious, of course, but not to the point where you miss out on opportunities because they might plunge you into tasks or responsibilities that you have never had before. That’s what setting goals is all about – stretching yourself and taking on new challenges.
The Fix: First, surround yourself with risk-takers and others who will be “cheerleaders.” Physically avoid those who would foster such a fear – those who live in their comfort zones and encourage you to do the same. If we all lived in our “comfort zones,” there would be no space exploration, no medical breakthroughs, and no Malala, who decided that young women deserved an education. Is your “unknown” as scary as hers was?

Fear of Change

As you pursue your goal, you will give up things and relationships. You may face a move within your organization or across the country. These are big changes, of course, and they will throw you into new situations and experiences. Your fear of them can cause you to turn down opportunities or, worse, allow your fear of failure to again take hold.
The Fix: Take some positive action toward that change. If the change is a promotion within your organization, what do you know about that department and its people? How can you find out more? If the move is to a new job and/or to a new city, what research can you do to learn more? If you will have new responsibilities, who do you know with similar responsibilities that you can meet with and begin to learn? Taking some action will help to alleviate that fear.

Fear of Rejection

You have a great idea for a product or service. You really want to be an entrepreneur. You work through your business plan and you are ready to make your “pitch” to investors. All of a sudden, you cannot bring yourself to make those appointments. Why? Because you don’t want to face rejection.
The Fix: Rejection is painful, as you probably already know. We have all been rejected at some time or another. So, again, you have good company. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, faced over 200 rejections before a publisher finally agreed to take a chance. If you adopt an attitude that rejection is normal and occurs because people just disagree on things, you can put it in perspective. Your idea is just not one that a particular investor want to back. Okay. There are others. It is a matter of finding people who share your ideas, that’s all.

Fear of the Past Repeating Itself

We all have incidents in our past that have been painful – we have failed, we have not adjusted successfully to change, we have met with disapproval, we have made poor choices. Now all of those past circumstances are looming large in our minds and staling us.
The Fix: You are older and wiser than you were then. You have learned a lot. But you also must now learn to live in the “now,” not the past or in the future. Really, there is only today and only now. What can you do today, right now, to move toward your goal? Taking some action will get those “horrors” from the past put back in their rightful place – in your dim memory.

Fear of New Relationships

When you make changes and when you move toward new goals, you will naturally form new relationships. This can be a hard move for someone who is really comfortable with current relationships and who may have trouble forming new ones. If this is you, then you do have some work to do.
The Fix: What is it about new relationships that make you fearful? Do you think you won’t “measure up” in the eyes of these new people? Much of this fear lies also in the fear of rejection and can bubble up if you don’t have a really strong self-image. Focusing on successes you have had in relationships and upon achievements that will be appreciated by these new individuals will help, of course, but if you have some deep-seated self-esteem issues, you should get some professional help.

Fear of Disapproval

We all want approval. It makes us feel so good when those we love approve of what we are doing. But what if they do not? Then what? If you let that disapproval control you, then you stop going after your goal.
The Fix: You may have to break off relationships with the disapprovers at least for a while. Or you may decide to see these disapprovers on a very seldom basis and only for short periods of time during which you do not discuss your goals or your progress toward them. There are people in your life who may not want you to move toward your goals because it means they may be left behind, but that is their fear to deal with, not yours.

Fear of Losing Control of Others

Yes, this sounds rather silly. But when you move out of an environment in which you did control others and into an environment in which you won’t have control, at least for a while, you lose a part of your persona. And that can be scary, of course. But the same inner strength and talent that put you in charge of others is still there – it’s just on vacation for a while.
The Fix: Focus on the relief that you can feel when you don’t have control over others, because with that control, especially in the workplace, comes great responsibility. Now that burden is gone – how freeing that can be!

Fear of Heartbreak

This often refers to personal rather than professional lives. Past hurts make us “gun shy” and reluctant to put ourselves out there again. So, we miss opportunities for emotional connections with others that can be really rewarding and put a new “bounce” in our steps.
The Fix: Be a risk-taker. Open yourself up for the possibilities that new connections can bring. You can proceed slowly and with caution, but if new emotional connections are made, your entire life takes on a new positive tone. And that positivity really transfers over to your professional life and your goals too.

Fear of Success

This sounds strange, doesn’t it? But here is how this works: Sometimes it is far more comfortable to always be working toward the goal rather than achieving it. It causes procrastination, but it allows you to always tell others that you are working on it. Because your fear is that, once you achieve a goal, what is next? Do you have to then set a new one? What will it be? And if you don’t set a new goal, what will others think?
The Fix: Go with gusto toward your goal. If you achieve it and it brings great satisfaction and reward, then feel free to bask in that glory for as long as you want – for the rest of your life if you feel like it. Everyone is unique. Some need to have one goal after another. Others have a single goal and reach full satisfaction with it. Be “you.”
Can you identify with any of these fears? Probably so. And that’s a good thing. For once you identify and accept them, you can begin the process of overcoming them.

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