How to Stop Being Afraid and Live Your Dreams

by Christa Avampato on 17 March 2014 2 comments

Babe Ruth once said, "It's hard to beat a person who never gives up." To achieve our dreams, we have to be committed and determined. The twin fears of failure and rejection keep many people from pursuing what they want — dream careers, loving relationships, passion projects, and even moving to a new city. Fear is a powerful deterrent, although we can also turn it into an ally and motivator. Fear is just energy; it can either hold us back or propel us forward. Below are six ways to make it work for you. (See also: How to Do Things That Scare You)

1. Take Small, Low-Risk Steps

Sometimes a big change can feel like an overwhelming risk. We run what-if scenarios over and over in our minds. Try breaking down your big goal into as many small pieces as possible. For example, let's assume you dream about making a move to a city far from where you live now, and you don't know anyone there. Some small steps might be to get a guidebook about the city, read local blogs authored by people who live there, connect with friends of friends who live there to get their perspective, and take a long weekend trip to visit. These small steps will give you information and experience, build excitement about the possibility of making the move, and reduce the risk you feel about taking such a big step.

2. Get Inspiration From Others

One of the best ways to reduce fear is to hear the stories of others who have done what you want to do, particularly if they went through rejection and challenging times to make it. Seek out books, inspirational blog posts and news articles, and people in your network who have done things you want to do. Learn from their experiences, and if possible, connect directly to find out how they kept up their courage while pursuing their dreams despite rejection. When you see someone who's made his or her dreams come true, it's easier to imagine yourself in that same position. Those inspirational stories will also keep you motivated and strong if your plans don't unfold exactly the way you want. (See also: How I Erased $70,000 of Debt)

3. Become Informed

Knowledge is power. It's also a surefire way to fight fear. Many times what we don't know is what scares us. If you're thinking about a new career path, take a beginner's class related to your dream job. Volunteer or get an internship with someone who can show you the ropes. Go to networking and other industry-related events where you can meet people who share your passion.

For example, I started my career in theater, although most of my work was on the business and production side. When I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing an original full-length play, I connected with a dear friend of mine who is a theater professor and told him my idea. That was a frightening admission for me; the goal felt so big and I had never tried to write a play before. My friend coached me through the process and suggested playwrights that I should read to see how they structured their plays. I also did a lot of research on correct formatting, plot and character development, and the process of getting a play produced from scratch. Once my play was written, I then did another batch of research to discover what companies and contests I should approach to get my work read and possibly accepted for production. All of this research and information really helped me put aside my fear and accomplish this personal and professional goal.

4. Practice Rejection

Just like fear of the unknown, fear of rejection is scariest the first couple of times it happens. At this point, I've been rejected and disappointed so many times that it's honestly no big deal to me anymore. Over the years, I've submitted for many writing and consulting opportunities that never worked out. Many times I never even heard if my submission was received and reviewed. I see all of these rejections as part of the path to achieving my dreams. Just as we can practice our skills to improve them, we can also practice rejection. Imagine the worst-case scenario. What would you do if you tried something and it didn't work out the way you wanted? Sit with those emotions for a few minutes. Then, take a deep breath and imagine yourself moving on. Rejection may set you back, but it doesn't have to break you. (See also: Staying Motivated When the Going Gets Tough)

5. Create Your Success

We can create our own success rather than waiting for others to provide us with opportunities to be successful. This is especially true for writers and content creators. Traditional media used to own communication channels. Now with blogs, social media, and self-publishing, all of us are mini-media companies. We can quickly, easily, and cheaply get our writing, videos, and creative work in front of others and immediately get feedback. That feedback will teach us something and make us better if we give ourselves the chance to try. (See also: Build on Your Strengths to Find Success)

6. Give Your Disappointment Somewhere to Go

The worst part of rejection is the fear of how we'll feel if it happens. Rather than worrying about that, make a commitment about what you'll do if rejection comes your way. Have an outlet to help you get rid of your disappointment. This could be exercise or a support network of friends and family. When I was first starting out as a writer, I faced a lot of rejection. I decided that every time I got rejected, I would do something nice for someone. That could be sending a note to a friend I hadn't spoken to in a while to say I was thinking of him or her or taking the extra time to smile and ask the cashier at my local drugstore how their day is going. This way the rejection was transformed into a positive action and it made me feel good to do these nice things for people. I also would remind myself that getting a rejection put me one step closer to finding the right opportunity.

Rejection, failure, and disappointment are natural parts of life. As the great Dolly Parton said, "If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain." Use these tips to manage your fear and then go get exactly the life you want.

How do you deal with fear of rejection? Don't be afraid, share your experience in comments!

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Guest's picture

The realization that I could create my own success was so empowering. It brought so much renewed energy and confidence to every aspect of my life.

Guest's picture

As a mental health advocate, I will tell you that fear is the one thing that holds people back but also can inspire change.
Here's a trick that I learned a long time ago:
When "what-if" thoughts come into your mind, consider the worst case scenario. It's often not as bad as you think.
Life is much easier when you don't let fear consume your mind.