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How to Turn Your Fears into Your Biggest Successes

Don't let fear control you -- instead, turn it into fuel to push you forward toward new possibilities and opportunities.

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Fear does something important for you in that it alerts you to potential danger. So it’s not necessarily a “negative or bad” emotion. But it often rears its ugly head at the worst times, and it can hold you back at work or at home if you don’t learn to manage it. So how exactly can you transform fear into success?

1. Identify your deficiencies or needs.

Fear generally happens because you reason that you are not good enough or because you think you don’t have a resource. These rationalizations can reflect deeply ingrained beliefs and ideologies. But if you can get specific about what you think you are lacking, you can step back and objectively figure out how to obtain or improve those things, step by step. Putting those steps into action works not only as effective risk mitigation but also gives you small wins that will build your overall confidence to go after bigger and bigger prizes.

The key is to get feedback from others as you go through the identification process. It might be that you’re concerned about areas you’re actually quite strong in or that you need to dig deep with those you trust to uncover what’s led you to believe certain things about yourself or society.

2. Visualize yourself overcoming potential problems.

Success gurus often tell people to imagine themselves enjoying their dreams. The idea is that having this clear image of the goal and its benefits will keep motivation high. This isn’t necessarily incorrect.

But it doesn’t do you much good when it comes to alleviating worry when you’re on the spot. For that, you have to visualize yourself overcoming the potential problems, too. For example, if your goal is to run a half marathon, what will you do when you get to a killer hill? You might visualize yourself honing in on the beat of your music to steady your pace, or you might visualize yourself climbing up the hill counting out your inhalations and exhalations. This way, when you encounter that problem in real life, you’ve already mentally rehearsed what to do, so the solution feels familiar and is easy to implement. Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps famously used this technique through his training and events to stay cool under pressure.

3. Educate yourself.

The more you understand something, the better able you are to use logic to keep your fear from totally taking over. You can also use the information you gather to create a smarter plan and contingencies or to get a larger picture for other goals that make sense for later. And since learning is active, it helps you feel like you are doing something constructive.

Education can take plenty of forms, such as talking with a mentor, reading a book, or watching a how-to video online. But it works best when you pinpoint specific questions to dig into. For example, you might ask yourself:

•   What is the process?

•   What are the safety recommendations?

•   What is the purpose?

•   What’s a typical wait time?

•   What do people on both sides of the issue argue?

Remember here that some situations or topics constantly are evolving, so be flexible. Make decisions as best you can with the data you have at any given point, but check back for new pieces of the puzzle later. New information might require you to take a new view or approach.

Fear is a perfectly normal feeling, and the goal with these strategies isn’t to suppress it. Rather, the goal is to have a clear grasp of what’s causing you to be scared and to grow past those elements in deliberate, controlled ways. This might leave you on the brink of entirely new possibilities, but you always get to decide which opportunities to grab for your life.

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