My heart was racing. Not out of joy and excitement, but out of fear.
A few weeks earlier I had traveled to the Himalayas, India to become a yoga teacher. After one month of intense studies, yogic diet, early morning meditations, chanting and many hours of working my ass off on the mat, I had graduated as a yoga teacher.
I felt proud of my achievement, but I also knew the time had come to start teaching. That meant finding a venue, building my clientele and promoting myself and my yoga classes. Oy!
Yeah, you guessed it – this was when fear joined the conversation. My head was spinning with questions such as, “What if no one comes?”, “What if people will think I’m annoying for promoting myself?” and “Who am I to teach anyway?”
You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? When you really want something, but just the thought of taking action make you want to crawl up in someone’s lap and camp there. Well, here’s how to move past that so that you can make your dreams happen.
The Only Thing That Holds You Back
There’s only ever one thing that holds you back from going after what you truly desire: fear. You know this. Fear itself can be pretty obvious. It can show up as fear of failure, fear of rejection or fear of criticism. But, it can also come in disguise. (Yep, fear can be sneaky!)
It can come dressed as reason, blame or excuses. It can look like anxiety, worry and cynicism. Or it can come in a prettier outfit like perfectionism. (“Fear in mink coat and high heels”, as Elizabeth Gilbert likes to call it).
Bottom line: when you’re not moving towards what you want, it’s because of fear.
Fear keeps us where we are. It holds us back from experiencing what we truly desire.
Realize When Fear is In Charge
When you’re faced with options and not sure what direction to take – ask yourself what the emotion beneath each option is. Is it based on love or fear? Peel off the layers and practice spotting fear in disguise. Play detective on yourself.
Also, when we’re facing something we haven’t done before we tend to ask ourselves questions such as, “What can go wrong?” “What if it doesn’t work out?” and “Who am I to do this?”
If you would have asked me, I could have written a whole book about everything that could go wrong during my first yoga class. People could have hated it, someone could have gotten injured in sarvangasana, or I could have walked around smiling with spinach stuck between my teeth… you get the point.
These fear-based questions might seem logical and reasonable, but they are detrimental to moving forward. Why? Because there simply are no positive answers to them. They lure our attention to all the reasons we don’t want to take action – not the reasons we do.
Don’t get me wrong, when you take action on your dreams fear will be in the boat with you. It will sit in the front seat and try to grab the wheel when you’re wobbling. Here’s the thing: fear is allowed to be there, but it’s not allowed to drive your boat or to set the direction of your GPS.
Begin With The End in Mind
So, how do you take charge? How do you pursue something you truly desire, even if it scares you to the core?
You do it by starting with the end in mind. By focusing on the outcome you hope to accomplish and not on all potential pitfalls on the way to achieving it.
Ask questions that will increase your motivation, stir your imagination and open up for opportunities. For example, “Why do I want to do this?“, “Who will it benefit and in what way?” and “How much can this improve my life if it all works out?“
Now you might wonder, “Yes, but doesn’t acknowledging potential failures help me to avoid them?”. To a degree yes, but they shouldn’t be the focus of your attention. You can look at what you don’t want, as long as you then give your full attention to what you DO want.
Create an image of you already being where you want to be. Visualize the result you want. Start thinking, feeling and acting like you’re already there. Consider it done.
Professional athletes and other top performers know about the power in seeing the outcome you desire in advance. Michael Jordan, Jimmy Carrey and Oprah Winfrey – they all pictured themselves succeeding before they did it in real life. And so can you.
Keep Your Eyes On The Prize
So, what happened to my yoga class? Eventually, 28 people came. I got lots of positive feedback and I left feeling like a hero. I probably didn’t do my first yoga class like a pro, but I delivered and I enjoyed doing it. After that, I set up a second class and one week later I was asked to teach at a studio. Not bad, right?
Facing something that scares you isn’t easy. But, falling under the rules of fear will limit your life in many ways – don’t allow that to happen. Instead, make conscious choices to go in the direction you desire.
How could taking action impact your life for the better? What doors could open up for you? Imagine, visualize and tap into the feelings of already being where you want to be. Focus on the end result you desire and trust that you’ll figure everything else out on the way.
As the wise Naguib Mahfouz said, “Fear does not prevent death, it prevents life”.
Photo cred: Sofie Stenmark, Model: Victoria Carlsson