How to Transform Fear into Action

How to Make 2013 the Year of Doing for Your BusinessBy Vincent Clarke

You know that you should probably start setting up your company website, look for the right suppliers, and leave your current job to start your own business. But knowing you should do something and actually doing it are two completely different things.

You’ve probably already planned it out entirely in your head a million times. You know you have the money saved up. You might even know how you would write a business plan if you had to as well. If you already have a business, you might have a couple of projects lined up that you keep talking about but never seem to get to. Weeks and weeks pass and the thoughts are still in the back of your head.

Or maybe you don’t know about any of this, but you do know you have a great idea. You know the one. It’s that little idea that’s been coming back up right before you go to bed or randomly throughout your day. You know what you want to do, but it isn’t the knowing part that’s the problem. It’s the doing that stops us in our tracks.

We mainly spend our time talking about it or putting it off and doing other “more important” activities. Once in a blue moon we may decide to actually do something, so we research about it and do some more talking. This may seem like doing, but they’re really just ways for us to escape doing.

In the corporate world, management analyzes all types of different areas where their companies could improve upon. They hold meetings, go to seminars, and even hire consultants to figure out just how they should go about making these positive changes. They already know that they want to improve the company by making these changes they know will work, but for some reason they still don’t follow through. What’s stopping them? What’s stopping you? How do we conquer it and move forward?

The Cause:

There’s something in deep our minds that keeps us from doing what we know we want to do. It’s taboo. It’s private. It’s puzzling. Everyone experiences it, but we often don’t know how to address it. Of course I’m talking about fear.

  • Why haven’t you approved that budget for a marketing campaign?
  • Why didn’t you contact that new potential client?
  • Instead of working on your new website, why did you go ahead and browse through the internet or check your email?

Somewhere along the line you experience fear. You’re afraid of failing. You’re afraid you’ll lose money. You’re afraid your idea is actually no good. It’s all incredibly overwhelming and you have no idea where to begin.

The truth is that people will always fear discomfort. That’s why the idea eating your broccoli as a kid made you squirm. That’s why you can’t face the idea of change today. It’s not a burning, insatiable fear, but more of a subtle, hidden feeling that reveals itself in surprising ways. You chose to avoid something because it keeps your comfort level high and the illusion of happiness satisfied as well.

We think up so many different ways to avoid doing what could potentially cause us harm. But somehow, we still come back to the same idea again and again. Later this idea will possibly turn into regret, which is a far worse feeling than fear. So how do we approach fear head on and start doing?

The Solution:

Just do it. It’s a pretty catchy phrase adopted by Nike back in 1988. Why was it so successful? Because people thought it was so profound and intellectual for its time. Kind of like an old proverb or wise advise from a Zen master. The reality of it is that it’s just as simple as it seems. The complexity of it however comes from our own doubts and fears. The solution is to do.

But how does one actually “do” anything?

Before you can do, you have to learn how to do. The irony of it is that you learn best by doing as well. Don’t just read up on how to do your own company taxes. Sit down and go through the previous year’s finances and see if you came to the same conclusion as your accountant. If you want to start a website, try setting up a simple blog first. This will give you an idea about how web hosting and domain registrations work, as well as some simple background in web design and coding.

Many people are afraid of doing something they’ve never tried before or have had any actual hands on experience with first. The idea of learning by doing is to try it in a smaller, more controlled setting that allows you to gain experience with minimal risk. Think of it like when you first learned how to drive. You didn’t simply read a manual and then set out on the highway. You had to actually get behind the wheel and pass the driving test. You probably practiced with an instructor, friend or a family member in a small parking lot or on a driving course. So if you’re afraid to do, try starting small instead. Practice first and see the results. Experience will build the confidence you need to tackle the bigger projects.

Write Down Why You’re Really Afraid:

What are the real risks? What would you realistically lose? Having these fears down on record is a great way to address them directly. You can figure out what you need to change in order to release you from these fears and move on with your ideas. Writing is a motivating process that allows you to make sense of all the confusion keeping you from reaching your full potential. If you rather talk it out with coworkers, friends, or loved ones, make sure you discuss only your fears. You don’t want to fall into the same trap you’ve been in of talking about your projects. You want to seek advice on how to properly assess and address any fears or doubts you may have instead.

Remember that failure is simply another opportunity to learn and grow. You can use what you’ve learned to fix your mistakes and do better next time. But keep on doing! Don’t fail once and call it quits. If you really want something, you might have to fail a couple of times first before you actually get it right. This is just another form of doing.

The ultimate way you’ll find success in 2013 is to finally get up and do what you’ve been waiting to do. Write and discuss the risks, then start small, and finally keep trying if you happen to fail. Doing is a continuous process of putting effort into a goal until that goal is reached. I wish you all the best in your doing for this year and if you have any personal stories about doing please share them with us in comments below.

Vincent Clarke is startup branding consultant, and an Inbound Marketing Analyst for USB Memory Direct, providing branded promotional products for small businesses and startups.

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