Your first day of school. Your first kiss. Your first day at work. Your first real investment—a home, a new car, launching a business. We've all had a lot of these life experiences. Did we feel ready? Probably not at the time. How did we become ready? We just did it. We showed up, fears and all. And most of the time, we probably kicked ass.
The secret no one ever tells you is that most people never feel ready for anything new. Each time we cross a new boundary, yet another awaits us. That is the beauty of life. There is always more to do. More growth to experience. More lessons to learn. More of your beautiful, unlimited potential to seize.
One of the greatest measures of our success in life is our ability to push through our fears. Jeff Goins, ths best-selling author of The Art of Work, says, "as you probably know by now, courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s the willingness to face it in spite of how you feel."
Here are my top three suggestions for taking action when you are next presented with a challenge.
1. Let your past fears inform your current fears.
Scared to speak up in a meeting? Remember a meeting from last year. Was it safe to speak up then (even though perhaps you didn't), now that you can see it in retrospect? Probably. The same is true now, plus you are even wiser and more experienced! Raise your important opinion or question, my friend.
2. If you're thinking about it, you're ready.
Too inexperienced to start a side hustle or seek a job promotion? The fact it is on your mind is already an indicator you are probably somewhat ready. Hey—you’re not seeking the presidential nomination this year, right? Your goal is likely to be far less of a stretch than you are building it up to be in your mind. Write down a list of at least five reasons why you are capable of doing it at this precise stage in your life.
I did this with a client recently who wanted to become a matchmaker. Her reasons? A great natural ability to match people. Proven success in introducing two happy couples (who would provide testimonials if she asked). A healthy network of people to connect. An ability to create a gorgeous website using her tech savviness. A decent amount of free time over evenings and weekends to dedicate to it.
Hmm… She sounds pretty ready to me, don’t you think?
Do this for yourself right now. The list might totally surprise you.
3. Be aware of sneaky, pesky, ever-present imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome is what we experience when we feel we don't deserve our accomplishments. We feel we've fooled others into thinking we are capable and attribute our achievements to blind luck or good timing. Our inability to accept our gifts means that we feel like a fraud or an imposter—maybe even waiting to be exposed.
Most common in high-achieving women, imposter syndrome not only prevents us from enjoying success, it also massively limits our current potential. Feeling non-deserving and like a fake, we turn down wonderful new opportunities and creative ideas. Imposter syndrome is the killer of many "what-might-have-beens."
Does that sound like you? It sure sounds a lot like the excuses I hear all the time (including from myself on my bad days).
People I coach always tell me they are "not ready" for the next step. Moving cities. Starting an entrepreneurial venture. Online dating. Applying for a role at a prestigious company. The truth is, we're never ready. But those who get what they want in this world proceed anyway. In the words of Susan Jeffers, they Feel The Fear... And Do It Anyway. They know there is nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain by taking action. And the more you do it, the easier it becomes over time. It can also feel quite thrilling. I have never felt more alive than when I have moved countries, quit jobs, and launched entrepreneurial projects.
The more important to our hearts the task before us, the greater resistance we feel toward pursuing it. So what if, instead of keeping us at a standstill, we let our fears be our guide, showing us the way forward? What if we allowed our fear not to act as a stop sign but as a light, illuminating the path before us and highlighting what we need to do next?
What is patiently waiting for you on your path?
Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for her free weekly wellness tips on her website, and check back every Tuesday for her latest column!