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Advice / Career Paths / Exploring Careers

A Simple Activity That'll Help You Defeat Your Fears and Follow Your Dreams

Following your dreams is hard. It often involves seriously shaking up your life, perhaps leaving a stable job or a comfortable life for something a little more uncertain. And that’s, well, scary.

But going through a life where you never get to live out your deepest passions is scarier, at least to me. So, how can we push past the fears that are stopping us from moving forward in the direction we feel we’re really meant to be going?

I was recently reading a wonderful post by Mailbox employee turned artist Elle Luna on how to leave the path of “should” and start down the path of “must”—the path of our true calling. Among many other inspiring stories and pieces of advice, Luna offers the following activity for pushing past the fears that are keeping you from taking that leap.

Grab a piece of paper and write the numbers one through ten on the left side of the page. At the top, title it ‘What am I so afraid of?’ This is your Worst Case Scenario list. This is your list of things that make you think ‘They’re all going to laugh at me.’ These are your largest fears, and you’ve got ten minutes to write them down.

This is the time to be really honest with yourself, to admit even those deep fears you’re afraid to admit. Let it all out.

Once everything is out on paper, it’s time to challenge each of those fears. Go through them one by one and really drill down into them. What’s this fear really about? How likely is it to happen? Would it really be that bad if it did? If you’re having a hard time doing this on your own, try giving the list to someone you really trust and feel comfortable with and having him or her work through it with you—someone on the outside might have a more level-headed, positive view on some of the things you’re worried about.

By rationally thinking through your biggest fears, you start to remove the emotional power they have over you. For some, you might not realize they’re not so realistic or scary after all. For others, you can come up with an action plan for if they do happen, rather than just being scared stiff because of them.

It won’t be an easy exercise, but if you’re hoping to make major strides toward your biggest goals, it will be worth it.

Photo of man jumping off dock courtesy of Shutterstock.