How to Overcome the Fears that Are Holding You Back so You Can Live Bigger

Don't look down.I was raised to be fiscally conservative in every sense of the word. Be frugal, get a solid, corporate job and cling to that corporate ladder for dear life. When the economy shakes you off the ladder, climb it again.

Some of the lessons we learned growing up are worth keeping around. However, once we hit bumps in the road that make our lives, perspective, and choices truly ours as adults, some lessons we were taught as youngsters hold us back rather than hold us up.

It can be tricky to navigate these bumps when our old ways of thinking make us afraid to solve a problem by trying something new. So what can we do to get over it when we're fearful of taking on much-needed change?

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1. Focus on what you want, not on what you don't want.

When we're freaking out about something, we often worry without direction. Our minds flicker to what we're trying to avoid, we feel unsettled and don't know how to ease our anxiety. I felt like this for a while after I was laid off. I knew I needed a way to make money, but I didn't want to go back to work in an office.

This sounds like a conundrum. My mind kept returning to thoughts of working and fears around money. I figured I could find part-time work. That way I would still have to work in an office, albeit fewer hours. Unfortunately, this would leave me A) with less money and B) working in an office. My thoughts continued to churn anxiously for quite some time before I figured out that I needed to change the way I was thinking about the problem.

I finally realized that the solution is actually quite simple, once I learned to focus on what I want rather than what I don't want. So instead of focusing on how much I dread working in an office, I can focus my attention on how I can make money in other ways. I can write more, I can find more writing assignments via more media outlets, and I can start my own business to help other people suffering from "office-phobia" find ways to make money on their own.

Think like you mean it. Actively focus your thoughts on the direction you want to go, rather than peering in the rearview mirror. If you are afraid of failure, you won't act, and then you will fail. If your mind goes to bad places, you will follow. Instead, turn your mind towards more verdant pastures, green like the color of money.

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2. Face your fears head on.

It's a common strategy to try and avoid thinking about things that are bothering us or causing anxiety, but it's also been proven that thought suppression fails miserably as a tactic. Rather than suppressing your thoughts about something that's stressing you out, instead, face it head on. How can you solve a problem you're avoiding? You can't, as long as you're avoiding it. You need to start by looking your fear right in the eye.

In the 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferris encourages you to define your nightmare by imagining your worst-case scenario in detail. If your nightmare scenario came to fruition, would it have a permanent impact, or could you reasonably recover? Let's say my business is a complete and epic failure. Could I resume my old career track if I had to? Sure I could.

On the flipside, ask yourself how your fear is holding you back. What are you putting off, and what's it costing you? What is the worst case scenario that arises if you don't take action?

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3. Set small goals and keep going.

Almost everything we achieve happens via baby steps. But in our mind's eye, we picture the entire frightening process, and then we go bury ourselves under the covers.

Let's say you want to write a book. You imagine yourself night after night, slogging away at your computer. You think about tracking down an agent, you imagine all the rejection letters you'll get from publishing houses, and the torture of a lengthy editing process once you finally land a book deal - and that's if you actually land a book deal. You might write a book and go through this whole process and never get a deal from a traditional publisher. If every writer focused on the big, unwieldy and largely unattractive process of getting a book published, we wouldn't have book stores and libraries.

Instead, make yourself a nice, hot cup of tea and write a paragraph. There, was that so hard? Every book is written one word at a time. If you're really afraid, then set a goal that's only tangentially related to the finished product. Decide what time you will write. That's a great first goal. Another day you can decide to write a very rough outline, or just a few sentences. The point is, set small goals and then get going.

To sum up, focus your thoughts on the success you stand to gain. By taking action, even when you make mistakes, you can still recover. When you act rather than cower, you learn from your missteps and gain confidence from the small successes you experience along the way.

This post was written by Katie Morton of The Monarch Company. Follow her on Twitter.

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