I’ve discovered something. It seems we are all living with a level of permanent fear.
A surprising number of us, even those I’d put in the successful box, admit privately to feeling fearful a lot of the time. Some will even say that it doesn’t go away, it is a continual feature in their lives. I’m sure you can recognise it. It renders you almost incapable of doing the most basic of things, and often strikes just when you really don’t need it to.
Many describe it as the most frightening experience they have ever had. It has nothing to do with common sense or intellect, or of the reality of your life. It doesn’t matter how much time you’ve spent organising your life so that it works smoothly, this feeling of dread can hit anyone at any time. It doesn’t just hit those who are in between gigs. It can hit you just as the going is good – your self destruct auto-button.
In a recent Inc. article The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship researchers found that many entrepreneurs share character traits that make them more vulnerable to strong emotional states. The fact is that working for yourself, particularly on your own is brutally lonely sometimes, and when you hit a low, it can be magnified by your feelings of isolation.
But rather than ‘fessing up to our vulnerability, we tend to soldier on. After all, we’ve been taught to ‘fake it ‘til you make it.’ Go on, I bet you answer the question ‘how’s it going?’ with ‘yes, great…fantastic..lots of new clients…loving it… (or some variation).
So what to do about it?
First of all, recognize the signs:
- Are you stuck in a rut, taking the same old work that you always have?
- Do you sabotage your work by procrastinating or not completing client work on time?
- Do you say things like, ‘I’ll never get work with that client’ or ‘I’m not clever enough to get in with that company’.
- Do you avoid doing things that you think you can’t do perfectly?
Perhaps it’s time to take stock and think about how you run your life and your business. It may not seem like it at the moment, but there are always options. Sometimes you just need a bit of headspace to figure them out. Ask for help too! You will find that people around you are receptive to you – they’ve probably been through it before themselves. Work on your confidence, whatever you feel you need to do to step out of your comfort zone and feel a bit of ‘good’ fear.
How do you avoid it?
You can’t avoid being scared about things all the time. And if you think about it, that’s not what you really want is it? It’s almost impossible to go through life without experiencing some kind of failure. If you have avoided it, you are probably not really ‘living’ at all.
But you can avoid it getting in the way of your goals and success. You have a choice. You can see failure, or you can see a learning experience. By all means feel miserable that you didn’t do as well as you’d have liked, but these lessons are very important, they are how we keep from making that same mistake again.
The thing about failure is that we find out things that we didn’t necessarily think of before. It certainly shows how strong you can be, and how resilient. Do you get up and at ‘em? Or do you wallow?
So learn to recognise fear for what it is, and how you can choose to turn it to your advantage. Rest assured that everyone around you is experiencing it too!