What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Don’t let fear get in the way of what is most important to you

HutchLast week I attended a session run by life coach Rachael Stevens about setting career goals and thinking more positively. Our group of actors, writers and theatre makers began by identifying and sharing our ‘rocking chair’ perspective –what would we like to see our lives had been when we were 80 years old and looking back? What is it we would like to have achieved? This is a useful exercise in helping draw out what is really important to you in the here and now and gives you a place to start in working out the steps to get you there in the future.

We are best motivated by what interests and inspires us, not by what we think we should be doing or what we feel others expect of us. There was no shortage of dreams in that room (I had a laundry list of things that I want to achieve), but many felt there were things stopping them from making those things happen. The obstacles we might face are many, time and money not least of the practical limitations on most ventures, but they are not insurmountable. The more potent obstacles are the fears we hold when pursuing what is truly important to us, when we are invested in a venture that feels to be exposing of our most essential nature. What if I am judged and found wanting? What if I fail?

Avoiding realising passion projects because the stakes seem too high is something I can easily relate to. But those goals that seem dangerous, uncertain and unknowable or that give you that tingle when you think about them, they are the ones worth pursuing. If this is all getting a bit new age, or if you can’t put yourself in the mind of a reminiscing 80 year old you (who might not even remember, much less care about, what dreams you are grappling with now) then another great exercise is to ask yourself –what would I do if I wasn’t afraid?

It is liberating to uncensor yourself in this way and most common fears can be answered by remembering that:

It doesn’t matter what people think of you

Apart from the fact that it is their own business, the criticism we fear from others is rarely forthcoming, rather people usually admire and gravitate towards bold action.

You will fail, and that is good

It is your right, need and privilege to fail. Only by running to the point of failure will you be able to go further the next time. And start failing now, as soon as possible –it’s an approach that helps make Pixar great!

It’s about the ride

Specific goals aside, common in what was important to many people was feeling happy with the way you live and create, being true to yourself and enjoying the relationships you have with the people in your life.

Everything will happen in its own sweet time, so spread the sweetness on some toast.