🎃 With Halloween right around the corner, #spookyszn is officially in full swing—from the purple and orange lighting up neighbors' front yards, to the haunted houses, to the...uncertainty of our future? It can all be spooky—with the last item on this short list perhaps being the biggest reason for our nighttime tossing and turning.
At least, recently, that's been the case for me.
Not to say I'm up all night, worrying about what's to come, but, the future is something I, in a way, can't help but focus on. I know, I know. They say to only worry about the things you can control and that the future is unpredictable. However, to that I say, aren't we most responsible for what our life will look like? If we can't forge a path to a better future through our actions today, what are we even doing by working so hard? Maybe this is simply an internal rationalization for my recent fretting, maybe not. Nevertheless, the spooks are real and I want to talk about it. 🗣
While we may not all relate as business owners, I can bet most of the stressful aspects that result from embarking on such an endeavor are, or have been, experienced by most everyone reading this.
First, the fear of failure—what happens if I put forth my full effort, sacrifice time and money, and still lose. 😔
It's a risk we all are aware of when deciding to do something new, to stick our necks out there in pursuit of something we value. But, failure is something we always imagine avoiding. We think of ourselves as winners.
For me, though, this fear has still always been present. On varying levels, of course, but, recently it's hit a peak. And, upon further examination, it's not hard to understand why.
Full disclosure, Helium Books has experienced stagnating growth over the past couple of months (order more books, people! 😉) and it is simply more difficult to keep optimism levels high in such circumstances. With little to build off of lately, the other pressures of life seem to grow more intense as a result...personal finances, relationships, reputation. You begin to think about how failure would impact these areas of your life. 🤔 The what ifs run rampant.
Now, even when things aren't going great, you still have your share of good days! And on these days, if you're like me, your optimism soars and you begin to think of the rosy future you're most surely destined to experience. But, the funny thing about life? It tends to humble you pretty quick, if only by way of your own internal thoughts.
The fear of success is, while it may seem counterintuitive, a very real emotion. Rather than worrying if you can handle losing, you begin to worry if you're built for the success you are chasing. What if overwhelming success comes my way and I can't handle it—the pressure of leading a company, the strains on time and relationships, the added complexity. Life is not always easier the "better" it becomes.
Put together, these fears swing a rather nasty pendulum. Things going poorly, we fear failure. Things going well, we fear success.
You may be thinking, 💭 Well Ian...all hope seems lost, I guess fear is destined to control us.
Now, would I really write an entirely negative post? You know me better than that! I wanted to first let you in on the reality many of us, myself included, face, but now...
👉 Let's talk about combating these spooks.
As I mentioned before, I really can't help but focus on my future. Given the shaky drawbridge I currently call my life path, my future is in constant flux. Truth be told, I don't think most of us can not focus on our future. Very few of us are above thinking about and planning for what's next. And, while that may generate some negative emotions, I think we absolutely should prepare for a better future. Yet, at times the negative thoughts—the fears—tend to set us back.
Here's how I try to handle them. Notice I didn't say eliminate. I'm not sure that is entirely possible.
1️⃣ Recognize the fear as legitimate and present. Ignoring emotion allows it to fester and build. Acknowledge its existence first and foremost.
2️⃣ Flood thoughts with positivity and gratitude. I find it so helpful when I'm feeling down on myself and my future to think of all that is going right, of all the good in my life, and the fact that I've made it this far and haven't failed yet. I also remind myself, when I fear success, that everything I need to be, now and in the future, is already inside of me, either ready to shine or ready to be developed.
3️⃣ Get back to work. Action is the enemy of fear. Fear can't flourish in an environment of consistent progress. Through action we are telling fear, I see you, but you will not stop me. Heck, we all know the only way to avoid failure and to become the person capable of handling the success we're chasing is to take action—to make strides, to improve!
It's okay to feel fear. It's natural. But, keep in mind the words of actor Will Smith, "God placed the best things in life on the other side of fear." See fear for what it is, acknowledge it, then overwhelm it with positivity and action.
It's #spookyszn, ya'll. I'm spooked—by the bad and good. Maybe you are, too. But, I'm practicing what I preach above. Maybe you should, too.