Do It Scared: Overcoming Fear and Procrastination

Posted By on May 13, 2011

“It’s better to have a brilliant failure than a mediocre success.”
— Tom Peters, Author, “In Search of Excellence and The Brand You”

I forgot the question, but I remember the answer.

I heard it during the National Association of Professional Organizers’ Conference in Boston several years ago. During the Organizing Outside the Box panel, Donna Smallin, one of the panelists, told the crowd, “Do it scared.”

The answer was simple yet jarring. For years, Nike’s motto “Just do it” has been programmed in our psyche. So simple, so easy. Just do it, and life will be grand.

Ah, yes, but humans are a messy lot. We are filled to the brim with emotions, doubts, insecurities, and fear, and these become roadblocks to our success, causing us to drag our feet.

Don’t let fear and other distractions get in the way of your dreams

By “doing it scared,” we can overcome our own fears and procrastination and tap into our personal power to succeed. So what are we so scared of?

In addition to the “traditional” fear of failure and fear of success, we weigh ourselves down with busyness, namely soul-sucking relationships and projects. How can we possibly do something else when we’re busy with these albatrosses hanging around necks? We can’t move on because we’re too busy dealing with soul-suckers. That makes us to too busy to realize our dreams, too busy to grow our businesses, and too busy to face what scares us or what could energize us.

By setting our own houses in order, we feel renewed, lighter, and re-energized to push the negative feelings aside and just do it.

Clean up your life

If you want to re-energize your work and life, it’s important to ask yourself what you’re tolerating, says life coach Laura Berman Fortgang, author of “Living Your Best Life” and “Now What? 90 Days to a New Life Direction”.

Fortgang suggests making a list of everything from work and home that you’re tolerating, and this could be clutter, unfinished projects, situations at work or home, other people’s behavior, or frustrations you have. Then use the list to decide what to keep in your life and what areas you need to clean up.

“We need to clean up our messes, whether it’s clutter, emotional or something else,” she said. “Our mess blocks energy and clarity. So if you clean up your mess, you get your energy and clarity back.”

Value your time

Brian Tracy in his book “Time Power” advises prioritizing your personal life and stresses the need to practice “personal triage” in your life.

“There are potential uses of your time, activities, and money that represent the possibilities of the future,” he writes. “These are areas where you need to invest more of yourself and your time if you want to maximize everything that is possible for you in those areas.”

Eliminate time traps and downsize, minimize or eliminate activities you no longer want to spend time on, Tracy writes.

So long, leeches

In that same vein, Dr. Edward Hallowell suggests eliminating what he calls “leeches” – those “people or projects that waste your time and attention.” His book, “CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked and Ready to Snap!”, addresses how modern life can really slow us down.

During a presentation at MD Anderson, Hallowell said we spend so much time being busy that we believe we’re being productive, and as a result, we don’t spend enough time thinking and doing work with meaning.

“The great irony in this world that has been flattened is that more people than ever have the opportunity to develop their minds in extraordinary ways, but they squander the chance by keeping busy rather than going deep,” he said.

Hello, lilies!

On the other hand, Hallowell recommends cultivating your “lilies” – the people and projects you are engaged and connected with. Lilies “make you feel fulfilled and satisfied, glad to be alive and doing what you’re doing,” he said. “Give yourself permission to make the most of the short time you have on this planet.”

As the cliché goes, there’s nothing to fear but fear itself, and busyness serves as a great hideout. It’s easy to justify to yourself about all the things you can’t do because you’re just so darn busy. We’ve heard the same excuses from clients, but we may not always listen to our own advice.

Once you eliminate those leeches and start cultivating lilies, you are ready to take that flying leap. Do that thing that you’re excited but terrified to do: public speaking, hiring an assistant, or simply trying sushi.

Get out there and just do it. And do it scared.

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