Are your goals fascinating enough to pull you past your fear?
Goals without values are bullies that push you around. On the other hand, [goals] aligned with your values pull you toward them.
Have you ever played with a fistful of magnets? It’s a cool, hands-on way to experience the difference between feeling repelled and feeling attracted… one is unpleasant, the other intriguing. Much like magnets, your goals can either push you away from, or pull you towards achieving new outcomes.
What if we could create “fascinating” goals – goals that would literally pull us forward into bewitching futures? Sally Hogshead, author of Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation, outlines how to create goals that fascinate.
Find a goal that scares the crap out of you.
Do you have a goal that makes you a little uncomfortable? You should.
This goal doesn’t have to be majestic, like ending world hunger. It can be specific to your profession, like helping every single customer find exactly the product they need. Or it can be personal, like saving enough to put three kids through college.
There are only 2 ground rules:
- Your goal has to expose you to a very real chance of failure.
- Your goal has to be big and important enough to proclaim a true purpose for your work.
… If your goal is comfortable, it’s not big enough. What do you stand for really? What’s your career about? Once you figure that out, and then steer your life toward it, you can start to realize your true potential. This can be daunting to consider. (At least, it will be daunting if you’re doing it right.) But don’t play it safe.
OK, NOW I’m Scared
Fear is a clue that you’re getting close to doing something important.
— Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
by Seth Godin
In the past few months I’ve set some fascinating goals of my own. Goals that excite me and intrigue me. Challenging yet achievable goals that scare the crap out of me. Fascinating goals that pull me forward while sparking intense, visceral fear that could – if I let it – consume me, paralyze me. I’m OK with that because I’ve spent a good part of my professional life accepting challenging projects that I had no idea how to do – saying “yes” while asking myself (quietly, inside my head) “what the heck???” And I’m happy to say that I completed those same projects and produced really good work. So I know in my gut I can do it.
But facing my “what the heck” fears in order to forge ahead can be daunting. Blogger Sarah Kathleen Peck has been there, done that:
I procrastinate–sometimes, a lot, I’m afraid to admit – and the bigger a goal or dream of mine is, the worse this habit is. I’ll even throw in some productive things to do in lieu of tackling the big, scary goal or project. When I set my sights too far away from my current state, I can render myself helpless, weak, scared, or terrifically frightened.
Like Peck, I’ve finally realized that when I start procrastinating – when I start diddling with unimportant and/or repetitive chores, when I check email one time too many – what’s really going on is that I’m scared. Something BIG has frightened me and I’m circling the goal – no, not the drain – frantically reacting to fears that are pushing and tugging at my psyche. Peck calls it “Terrification: Climb this BIG wall NOW!” (Take a moment to enjoy her clever, illuminating sketches in the post: A Little is a Lot.)
I’ve been here before. In my January 2011 post, Being Scared = Learning Opportunity, I wrote:
We all experience fear. Chalk it up to being human, to having adrenaline that, in a nano-second, courses through our veins when we’re feeling threatened. Fear is normal and can be useful as long as it isn’t a constant state of being… and as long as it doesn’t paralyze.
And so I conclude: feeling fear simply makes me human. But when I allow my fears to push me into paralyzing procrastination, I’m forfeiting my power unnecessarily. In her post, Fear & How to Beat It, entrepreneur Tina Su shared her own “dialogue” with her fears.
Some days have been harder than others. Days like today, where I spent most of the work-day browsing different websites, feverishly checking to see if I got any new email, checking web stats, and Facebook updates. I think I’m addicted to email, or perhaps it’s just my fearful mind oozing its magic potion to distract me from actually completing the project. Here are some things it says to me:
- You should check email right now, and while you’re at it, check all the latest Blog posts, and Facebook updates too…
- You’re gonna fail.
- Okay, let’s save the embarrassment from public humiliation. Don’t finish…
- You suck!
- Check it out over here. Here’s 20 other yummy and lucrative projects you can work on instead…
- You suck! You suck! You suck!
- You’re a loser.
Fear speaks to Su with two voices: One voice distracts her with lists of alluring alternative activities while the other voice practically shouts out wounding epithets… “You suck, suck, suck!” Allowing either voice to sway her actions means Su could forfeit her power.
What to Do When Your Goals Scare You
Su has her own methods for denying those fear-full voices, for re-claiming her power:
1. Accept that fear will be there:
…Whenever I start to feel resistance and fear show up as I sit down to work… I’ll playfully say to myself: “Ah, there you are, Mr. Resistance! Hello. You’re so hardworking, always showing up on time. Thank you for making sure that I am safe.” I’d then smile and start doing whatever it is that I had wanted to do—to further me along on the project at hand. Accept that fear will be there. Do it anyway…
2. Action. Momentum… Keep doing even if you suck.
When working on any project—professional, creative, personal, entrepreneurial—remember your goal isn’t to be brilliant or perfect, your goal is to get the damn thing done! If you can get it done, you can work on it iteratively to redo, to refine, to re-craft, to re-write, to tweak the details later. Now is not the time to be a perfectionist… The repetitive action will create a habitual pattern in your mind, you’ll develop muscle memory, and it will become easier over repetition…
3. The Trick of “One at a time”
So you are either thinking about what you want to do, or you are doing it. You are either scared, or you are doing the thing that scares you. You cannot do both. You cannot be at two places, mental spaces, and emotional states at the same time. Remember this trick the next time you catch yourself feeling worried or doubtful or anxious from fear…
Read more of Tina Su’s discussion at ThinkSimpleNow.com. And, just for the record, Su’s process for dealing with fear lines up nicely with commentary by Robert K. Cooper, neuroscientist and author of The Other 90%: How to Unlock Your Vast Untapped Potential for Leadership and Life. In his post, The Neuroscience of Fear, Cooper validates Su’s approach.
Everyone has a brain. Not everyone really knows how to use it…
There are times when your brain wants the opposite of what you want, and unless you rise above its ancient programming, it will win… Take fear, for example. Our brains keep us alive, keep us motivated, and keep us functioning with fear. Deep in our ancient brains is the fear center, called the amygdala. Through fear, the amygdala prevents us from doing things that can harm us, and it can push us forward to accomplish things because those accomplishments will alleviate fears we have about the future. A reasonable dose of fear, properly managed, is a good thing…
The two general keys [to working through fear] are awareness and action:
awareness that the brain has many ways of defeating its owner’s dreams, one of which is through the paralyzing power of fear; and action that puts the obstructive brain functions on notice: “I’m in charge, not you.”… the first essential strategy for keeping your brain parts working for you, and not just for themselves, is action… if you want to raise energy and attitude… first change behavior… In other words, growth follows action which grows new positive attitude. And simple, clear pilot-tests build it fast and safe… Such small actions can fit into anyone’s schedule without tearing a big hole in it.
My blogging partner, PattiAnn agrees so we’ll let her have the last word:
Where do you want to go? Wherever it is, you only get there one step at a time. We all do. Our choice is to stay where we are or to stand up straight, put our shoulders back, head up, eyes forward and GO!! Why would you choose to do anything else?