Usually when you want to achieve your goals, you are your own worst enemy.
You have to fight your mind saying you can’t do something because of X, Y, and Z… and those things are all usually just excuses, or fears. Being able to push through your fears is almost 80% of the battle in getting what you want.
So, I enlisted Ryan Mulvihill to share his experiences of helping others get over their fears during his coaching. What are the common fears and how can you get through them without sending yourself into a nervous breakdown?
If you feel a bit stuck when it comes to pushing through your fears or even if you’ve worked on some of yours already, take some time to read through this to ensure that you set yourself up for the best chance of success and laughing at the end when you realize “Why was I so worried in the first place?”.
Go for it, Ryan!
There’s that thing you know you want to do to improve your life, but the mind is a funny thing. It will convince you not to take action by making excuses.
My specialty is coaching people to take action on their business ideas, specifically with teaching them to call potential customers, pitch them on their startup idea, and to get their first customers. Through coaching clients I got to see these common excuses up close and personal as I helped my clients overcome them. I found that these excuses aren’t just entrepreneur related, but rather they affect each and every one of us when it comes to taking action.
It doesn’t matter if you are nervous to talk to someone you like, if you are avoiding going to the gym, if you are hesitating to write that first page of your book—Your brain has thought of a perfect excuse to prevent you from doing what you know you need to do.
They may sound like perfectly logical excuses in your head. However, these excuses are just fears in a different packaging.
I have found that these fears almost always fall into at least one of two categories: rejection or perfection. Depending on what it is you are avoiding you may be facing just one, or both at the same time.
You may not even be aware that these excuses are fear based, so I’m going break each of them down for you, and then give you the tools to overcome these mental hurdles and finally GSD, AKA Get Stuff Done.
It is a crafty fear as it often disguises itself as the simple thought,
“I don’t want to try, because it probably won’t work.”
Have you ever hear your mind say something along the lines of:
“I don’t want to ask that person out because they’ll probably say no.”
“Don’t bother trying, because failure is inevitable!”
It sounds silly when we bring it out in the open like this, but I can guarantee your mind has been fooling you with this line of thought for a long time.
When considering starting their first businesses, I have people call prospects in their target market to get feedback on their business idea.
Their excuse to delay calling?
They were utterly convinced that nobody would be willing to talk to them on the phone. They were afraid to get shot down, so they never wanted to fly.
They saw rejection as a bad thing, but I had the opposite mentality.
Rejection is feedback. It doesn’t mean you are bad, it’s just an opportunity to become better. When these same people changed how they thought about rejection, and focused on the learning opportunity it provided, they started to act differently. They were happy to call people in their markets and get rejected—they internalized rejection as part of becoming better.
My hope is that you will chase rejection with reckless abandon as it is the key to getting better very quickly.
This stems from a lie we all tell ourselves on a regular basis, “I’m not ready yet.”
But what does ‘ready’ look like? I don’t know, but I am sure that I’m not ready yet. So many people actively avoid doing things because the timing isn’t perfect. Missed out travelling because there wasn’t a perfect time to go, yep, done that.
Can you think of something right now where you are delaying because the stars have yet to perfectly align for you? I bet you can.
You’ll hear yourself saying, “I’m not good enough yet, I need to be more prepared, then I’ll do it“.
The thing is that you will NEVER feel fully prepared to do anything. There will always be something you could do better. Being OK with not being perfect when you’re taking action is the only way you will ever take any action.
When training clients to cold call prospects for the first time, I often had to physically reach over and press the dial button in order to force them into taking action. Once they were on the phone they realized that they WERE pretty well prepared. I am an amazing coach after all (*Noam’s Sidenote* – LOL what a modest man).
By accepting the fact that you will never be perfect, you give yourself permission to start taking action much more quickly rather than waiting.
Ok, now you are aware of how your mind is tricking you. You hear the excuses and see them for the fears in disguise they really are. All this logical explanation sounds great, but from my experience I know you can’t just explain away fears, you have to beat them. The only way to beat them is to gain reference experiences to give you the confidence that yes, you can overcome them. Reference experiences are simply memories of what has happened in your past when you’ve done something, and it’s hard for the mind to tell you you’re not ready yet when you have succeeded many times before. You won’t worry about getting a NO when you’ve heard YES a bunch of times in the past.
Sounds great, but if my mind is making a million excuses not to talk to a sexy stranger, or go to the gym, or get started on your own business, then what can you do?
The answer—Do as little as humanly possible, take a tiny baby step.
In order to build up your confidence you need to figure out what is the smallest, lowest stakes action you can take towards your goal and do it. It will seem really easy compared to that final goal.
If your goal is starting a conversation with that lovable lady or handsome hunk, but you’re racked with social anxiety, you can take a baby step towards this goal. If you want to build social confidence, a good starting point is asking 3 strangers “what time is it?” They could be a bus driver, a cashier, or a security guard. All you have to do is ask what time it is. When you complete that you can set the bar a tiny bit higher, and talk to a stranger about the weather. By taking these baby steps you will build the reference experiences to prove to yourself that yes, I am a sociable person. Eventually talking to that pretty guy or gal will seem a lot more easy and real to you.
Want to start going to the gym regularly? – Take a 5 minute walk around the block today. The next day try to do 5 pushups. Eventually you will overcome the excuses and fears holding you back and go to the gym.
Want to start a business? I’ve seen many people be terrified to reach out to potential customers, so I had them take baby steps and set low goals. First they just e-mailed a few prospects asking a simple question. Then they wrote up a script to call into their market to learn about the industry. The next day I had them set a goal of just talking to 5 people in their market, even if they got immediately rejected. Eventually they built up the confidence to pitch multiple prospects each day, and ended up with a list of interested customers. Eventually taking bigger actions on their business idea did not seem like that big a deal.
All of the fears I’ve overcome have stemmed from me taking little baby steps that built my confidence slowly until my mind couldn’t think of any more excuses.
So I want to encourage you to think, what is the thing you’ve been avoiding, and what is the smallest step you can take towards doing it?
Eventually those baby steps are going to turn into strides.
Ryan Mulvihill runs Grow an Empire where he writes about practical steps to grow yourself as a person in order to grow your online empire. He is also the author of Startup Idea Action Plan, a practical guide for taking your business idea, getting your first customers and getting traction on your startup. Feel free to connect with him on Instagram and Facebook.
Image credit: Daniel Novta