How to Use Fear to Steer in the Right Direction

By Jane | March 22, 2016

Fear is there to keep you safe, right? You use fear to tell you when it’s time to run away and hide under a rock.

Fear keeps you from jumping off a cliff to certain death.

Sorry Fear, but you’re not always right.

Sometimes, at the bottom of the cliff is a warm azure sea – the exact place you’ve been dreaming of – but the only way to get there is to take that leap.

Related: Do this to help overcome your fears and get moving →

Fear can be a sign to back away or…

You can use fear as a sign that you’re headed in exactly the right direction.

How the heck are you supposed to know the difference?

You just need to know what to look for…

Fear can be a sign to back away or…  You can use fear as a sign that you’re headed in exactly the right direction.  How the heck are you supposed to know the difference?  You just need to know what to look for…

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What to Look Out for Before You Leap

I had the chance during the last couple of weeks to probe the minds and hearts of dozens of adventurers (and wannabe adventurers).

Thanks for taking time to pour your hearts out, you guys!

During those conversations, I asked several of you to imagine the perfect opportunity – the opportunity to make everything you’ve been working towards a reality – staring you in the face.

All you had to do was say YES.

yoda says yes to fear

How do you feel, teetering on the brink of your big break?

The answer was the one I heard over and over again…

It’s exciting but scary too.

I LOVED hearing people describe their dreams this way. It made me excited for them because it told me they were heading in exactly the right direction.

Excitement Plus Danger Equals Adventure!

Think about it…

How does a struggling actor feel when he lands a big role in a new TV show? How does a musician feel on the first day of a worldwide tour? How does a traveller feel on the way to the airport? How does an entrepreneur feel when she signs her first client?

How do you feel when you’re about to take that one action that will change everything?

(Quitting your job, sharing your first blog post, buying the plane ticket… whatever it is for you).

There’s plenty of excitement, right? You can see your dream life sparkling away in the distance, just within reach.

But man, that fear is REAL. Once you leap, you can’t go back to the comfort zone you’ve been living in. Once you leap, there’s no more time to change your mind.

Are you going to be able to deliver? Will you mess up and get fired? Will you get mugged the moment you step off the plane? Can you handle it? And if you can, who will you be when all is said and done?

(Because once you’ve leapt out of your comfort zone, you will grow and change. You will never again be the person you are today.)

Excitement plus fear equals a roadmap to your heart

When we’re about to travel any new road (whether it’s on a long trip, a new career path, or simply a journey into our own minds and hearts), doubt is natural.

Is this where I should be going? Am I making the right choice? What will happen to me now?

To settle these doubts once and for all, imagine yourself taking your big leap.

Is it Exciting?

You better damn well be sure it is, because, as Stephen said in his last post

This is why it is so important that you are working on something you LOVE. It’s going to take time – and a lot of consistent effort – so you need to enjoy yourself along the way.

You have to show up every damn day. If your plan doesn’t stir the cockles of your heart and the deepest depths of your soul then…

Why the hell are you wasting your life on it?

But remember…

Excitement isn’t enough on its own. You can be excited about Disneyland or seeing a new blockbuster. That’s cotton candy excitement – it looks enticing, but it will melt away as soon as you take a bite. (And it might leave you feeling a bit nauseous when all is said and done.)

The other part of the equation is…

Is it Scary?

Nothing that’s truly exciting (like, deep-down belly-tumbling exciting) is completely benign on the fear scale. When you imagine doing the thing you have your sights set on, does it kind of scare your pants off?

Yes? Yes!!

how to use fear

The fear you’re feeling is a sure sign that you’re about to step out of your comfort zone, that there are challenges ahead, and that growth is about to take place.

Fear doesn’t like change, so it tells you to back away slowly, hands in the air.

But if there’s something thrilling on the other side, something that excites you and entices you, don’t listen to your fear.

Instead, use fear like a big old signpost and follow it!

Where is your focus right now? What’s the taking up most of your time and energy?

Are you excited? Are you scared?

If not, it’s time to make a shift.

If so, AWESOME! Keep going. You’re headed in the right direction.

  Happy adventures, Jane & Stephen

11 comments

  1. Comment by Andrée

    Andrée Reply March 24, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    It’s exciting and but scary too…I said that so many times since we sold our company last November! We will now realize an old dream and bike in Europe from May to October. Many chalenges awaits us while travelling, and we don’t know what we will do after. I love this post because even if I know we did the right choice, I sometimes (heu, many…) feel unsecured. Thank you so much. you reassured me. You’ve been and continue to be and inspiration for me!

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane March 27, 2016 at 2:30 am

      Thanks Andrée! I am so excited to hear that you’ll be cycling through Europe this summer! Don’t worry about feeling unsure and insecure – it’s all part of the journey and all part of being adventurous!

      J

  2. Comment by Sara

    Sara Reply March 23, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    Sometimes a difficult part is also after you take the plunge. You need to show up each day, battle insecurities and discouragement, and just keep going.

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane March 24, 2016 at 2:02 am

      Yes, totally. The fear never really subsides – I find it’s kind of like a wave, sometimes strong sometimes weak. It always seems to gain force when things aren’t going as well!

  3. Comment by Jane Travis

    Jane Travis Reply March 23, 2016 at 10:16 am

    Loving this post, Jane! (and loving ‘cotton candy excitement too! Great phrase!)

    A comfort zone is a wonderful place, but nothing ever grows there is a fave quote, and so true!

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane March 24, 2016 at 2:04 am

      Yes, I love that quote! I also like “life begins at the end of your comfort zone”.

      J

  4. Comment by Marianne // DYOB

    Marianne // DYOB Reply March 23, 2016 at 8:22 am

    This fear is so raw for me right now. My husband, 4yo son and I have been planning on moving from Denver to Costa Rica this year for almost 5 years. I finally told my job a few weeks ago and requested to work remotely. I’ve been there 7 years and assumed they would say yes since it’s not unprecedented. Well, turns out I got a no. It’s been devastating but we’ve decided to go ahead with our dream anyway and really focus on our online businesses. It’s a HUGE leap and am I terrified?? YES!! But we’re doing it anyway.

    I appreciate this take on the fear because I was hoping the fear wasn’t a sign that we SHOULDN’T do it. Thanks!

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane March 23, 2016 at 10:09 am

      Hooray! Good for you.

      I can tell just by the words you use that this move is something that is really calling to you. God yes, it’s terrifying! I have recently given up most of my freelance work to focus on this blog and some days it just seems crazy. But even on my most down days, I still feel happier than I ever did heading into the office…

      I’m sorry your work refused to let you go remote – there are still so many short-sighted bosses and businesses out there. But, I do believe a full-time focus on your online business will pay dividends sooner than you think!

      J

      PS. Costa Rica!!!! Awesome! That is so exciting!

    • Comment by Marianne // DYOB

      Marianne // DYOB March 24, 2016 at 8:06 am

      Thanks Jane, I think you are so right! That’s why I think we’ll be ok. I’ve been getting tired of the “second job” and am ready to work on just one focus and hopefully grow it into something that enriches my life, not depletes it.

  5. Comment by Cathy

    Cathy Reply March 22, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    My husband and I need to make a decision, soon, about where to live next in the world. I found myself giving weight to the fear of losing the opportunity to practice the style of yoga I respect, depending on where we choose to live. Instead of giving in to the fear, I decided to learn to practice, how I want to practice, so I can take my practice anywhere in the world. I found I don’t need to fear compromising my yoga practice. (Next fear to tackle: I probably have to learn Spanish, but I am resisting it.)

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane March 23, 2016 at 3:39 am

      Hi Cathy,

      I’m so glad you’re facing such an exciting decision.

      When we left LA, I was very scared to leave behind the comfort and community of my home studio. To be honest, I still miss those guys all the time, especially when I sit down to practice (shout out to Yoga at the Raven!), but I have also found that my practice has expanded and taken unexpected turns because of leaving that wonderful space. So you’re right, everything can be seen as an opportunity if you look at it in the right way.

      Good luck with learning Spanish! At least it’s not Mandarin or Finnish :).

      J

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