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7 Tips to Overcome Fear and Crush your Goals

Lately I’ve been working with several clients on overcoming the fear of the unknown. The goals they’re pursuing will take them into new professional realms and that means they’ll need to navigate a lot of change and uncertainty. Add to this the undeniable amount of additional stress we’ve experienced as a result of COVID and it’s no surprise that folks are struggling with overcoming fear.

Image of a grey scaredy cat

Every day we’re presented with experiences that might trigger fear. Some are big. Some are small. Fear might show up when you’re preparing to present to a large crowd, saying “no” at work, posting something vulnerable on social media or becoming a new parent.


Given how often we have to overcome our sense of fear, wouldn’t it be nice if we had the knowledge and skills to invite it in and become friends with it, so we can leverage the emotional experience to our benefit?


In this week’s article, I'm sharing seven of my favourite tips to manage fear so you can crush your goals. But before we dive into tips, let’s talk about the science behind fear (feel free to skip ahead if neuroscience isn’t your jam!)


The Science


Fear is often the anticipation of something unpleasant like emotional or physical pain.

Diagram of the brain's limbic system

Fear is generated out of the amygdala, a part of the limbic system. The amygdala gets the hypothalamus going which triggers our “fight-flight-or-freeze” response by enabling our adrenal glands to pump stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. We then experience physiological changes like increased heart rate and perspiration. Fear is meant to keep us safe from a threat.


Interestingly though, fear generates similar feelings as excitement. Whether we label the feeling as fear or excitement largely has to do with context and the degree to which we think we have of control over the situation.


Okay, so now that we’ve got knowledge about what’s really happening to our minds and bodies when we feel fear, how can you better manage it going forward?


The Seven Tips


1. Identify the Trigger

When you’re feeling the sensation of fear coming on, it will help to uncover the underlying trigger of the fear. If you’re nervous before a big presentation, get to the root of why you are nervous.


Identify the root trigger of the fear and write it down. What is the worst case scenario? Write it down.


2. FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real

Here’s the first of two acronyms for fear that are helpful to remember. FEAR can stand for False Evidence Appearing Real.


Once you’ve identified the root trigger for your sense of fear about the situation, list all of the ways in which the worst-case scenario is either A) false and/or B) unlikely to happen.


The Fear is supposed to keep you safe from an actual threat. So, does the threat really exist?


3. FEAR = Feel Everything And Rise


I recently learned this alternative to False Evidence Appearing Real from another coach.

FEAR can also stand for Feel Everything And Rise.


It’s vital that you allow yourself to process your emotions. In this case, consider embracing the fear by listening to the concerns. Process the emotions by meditating, exercising or practicing some deep breaths.


Observe the thoughts and emotions, acknowledge they exist and then choose to RISE.


4. Reframe it or Rename it


If feeling all the feels isn’t working for you, consider laughing in fear’s face by renaming it. What if you could reframe the fear-feels (yes, I just made that up) into excitement?

Worried about jumping out of the airplane? No, no… that’s just excitement and exhilaration! A simple reframe of the FEAR might just help you to take the leap!


5. Reflect on Past Experiences


Everyone has done something outside of their comfort zone before. Take a moment to write down an experience in which you did something you were afraid of.


Activity Instructions:


Reflect on the following questions:

  • What was the specific situation?

  • What were you afraid of?

  • How did you overcome it?

  • What did you learn from doing something that scared you?

Now take this reflection forward with you as evidence that you are braver than you think.


6. Assess What’s Within Your Control or Influence


When we don’t feel in control of a situation, we are more likely to experience anxiety about the outcome.


One of the best tools I’ve learned for managing the fear of change or uncertainty is to chart all aspects of the scenario out onto the “Circle of Influence and Concern” from Steven Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.


Activity Instructions:

  • Draw a large circle and then a smaller circle in the middle of the larger one. Label the outer ring as the circle of concern and the inner ring as the circle of influence.

  • Write anything that is within your control or influence in the inner ring and anything that you believe is not within your control or influence in the outer ring.

  • Now review anything in the outer ring to see how you might move it (or some aspect of it) into the circle of influence.

  • Finally, reflect on just how much you can control and/or influence in this situation.

Check out this video to learn more about this tool

7. Just Leap (with a Buddy)


Sometimes you’re going to be in situations where you'll have no choice but to leap. Consider finding a friend or coach to cheer you through the leap. Find someone will be there to listen to your fears, acknowledge the concerns and motivate you to take the leap with encouragement. With the help of friends or a coach, and some positive self-talk you'll be able to land a number of leaps that you didn’t think you’d ever be able to.

What you believe will become your reality. Once you start believing in yourself and leaping into the unknown, magical things happen.


If you're embarking on a big career or life change (what I like to call the "SWERVE"), and would like some support along the way, feel free to reach out to me at lauren@swervecoaching.com. I'd love to help you.


Struggling with Burnout? Or, are you just looking to make a career change? You might need a coach. Book a discovery call today.

About Lauren McCreery


Lauren is a Certified Professional Coach and real-life SWERVE success story. As the founder of Swerve Coaching & Consulting, she helps smart professional millennials who are stressed, stuck or burnt out to Ride the Swerve towards work that's engaging, energizing and empowering. Feeling burnt out and want a career change? Book a discovery call today.


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