A client in the middle of tough times asked me the other day, “What do you do to combat fear?”
It’s a great question to explore, especially today. Because when we’re afraid or uncertain, our natural tendency is to do nothing. To wait. We say:
- “I’m afraid I’ll make the wrong choice, so I won’t choose at all.”
- “I’m afraid I’ll make a mistake, and so I’ll stay still.”
- “I’m afraid the opportunity that looks good today will send me to loserville tomorrow, so I’ll pass it by.”
And when we do nothing, the fear wins.
We stay stuck. Sometimes, we stay in pain, rationalizing that the pain we know is better than the pain we don’t.
Our natural tendency is to wait, to stay safe. But that tendency is dangerous, because it wastes our most valuable asset–our time.
So, how do we combat the fear?
A bunch of four-letter words come to mind.
But I’ll only share the three most useful (and clean) ones here–ones you can use when it’s time for you to combat the fear in your career or in your life.
4-Letter Word #1: Prep
What’s the situation you’re the most afraid of? Let’s go there. Set a timer for one minute, and let yourself describe it, say it out loud, and really wallow in it.
Okay, now that you’re clearer on what that is, let’s review what’s in your control. Because these three things are ALWAYS are in your control:
- Everything you say
- Everything you do
- Everything you think
So, knowing what you’re afraid of, how can you PREP now?
- What do you need to say, now?
- What do you need to do, now?
- What do you need to think, now?
What do you want to learn now how to do, say, or think in the future?
I saw PREP pay off recently when a colleague whose company was acquired starting feeling afraid her job would be eliminated.
Now, honestly, I’ve seen several signs in the company to indicate it won’t happen. But it’s her fear, her worry, and she’s entitled to it.
The fear, however, froze her. She kept worrying, waiting, wondering, until I asked her this question:
“If that’s what you believe, what can you do about it right now?”
That led to developing a plan to clarify who she is and what she wants at work.
It led her to re-investing time in relationships within her own company to raise her profile, communicate her contribution, and make sure others understood her value.
Those actions didn’t take long. But it showed her that a little PREP made her feel less fearful, and more in control.
4-Letter Word #2: Work
If you’re working a job you like, this is no time to hide.
Be visible, share more, meet more people, do more of what you’re great at. Great WORK–and a great attitude–makes a difference that matters in tense times.
If you worry that you’re not keeping up, your WORK might be to grow your skills. (See PREP above–it’s something you can control.)
Or, if you’re working hard and have a steady income, congrats. Maybe you can put someone else to WORK. In the musical “Hello, Dolly!”, matchmaker Dolly Levi tells of her late husband’s perspective that “Money–if you’ll pardon the expression–is like manure. It won’t do any good unless you spread it around.”
If you have jobs to do and can afford to do so, hire someone. Maybe you need the basement organized, your home computer sped up, or the yard cleared before spring. For most of us, exchanging a little cash for WORK done well is a great way to dilute FEAR for someone else–and scratch those annoying, draining to-dos off your list at the same time.
WORK diffuses fear.
4-Letter Word #3: Love
But I also think in this case, LOVE stands for something else: Let Our Vision Energize.
Yes, you have a vision, whether you admit it out loud or not. Maybe it’s of your business and career achievements. Maybe it’s of your own life, or that of your family.
A vision is simply a picture of something we would LOVE to have.
But for many of us, our vision feels cloudy right now, distracted with flotsam and jetsam of this fear-mongering environment. If we clarify vision, it’s easier to start believing again that we can achieve what we want, no matter what’s happening in the world around us.
Our vision can motivate our everyday actions with a new purpose and energy. And who wouldn’t LOVE more energy?
Not clear on your vision? My favorite vision exercise involves picking up some crayons and scribbling what I want the future to look like, whether in a defined business situation or my life as a whole. Something magic happens to adults when they have a stick of colored wax in their hands.
LOVE cancels FEAR.
There you have it–some new ideas for old four-letter words. I hope you use them as antidotes to the fear that keeps spinning around today –and that will likely keep spinning for a while into our future. These ideas aren’t cure-alls, but use them to shout at your own fears so your fear doesn’t get in the way of your goals.
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