I do a lot of talking about goals on this blog, which in a strange way is rather ironic. If you had asked me 2 years ago about goals the mere sound of the word would’ve caused me to go in the opposite direction. Goals brought up a feeling of deadlines and the possibility of failure. Neither of which sounded overly pleasurable to me. What if I don’t make this deadline? Do I want that hanging over my head? What if the deadline comes and I fall short? What if I fail? Sound familiar? I actually found myself fearing goals. If I never set a goal I could never fail. One problem with this. I am also a procrastinator. I never realized that part of my reasoning for not setting goals was that it would force me to take action which I was uncomfortable doing. Then I heard a couple of phrases that changed the way I view goals altogether. Funny thing is they were not about goals or goal setting. They were about the one thing I feared the most – failure. Who wants to fail? You look foolish, people think less of you, it may discourage you from trying new things. That is what I thought. Then I heard the phrase “the key to success is massive failure” I couldn’t comprehend that Until I listened to one of my favorite motivational speakers, Tony Robbins. How can failure lead to success? Well in my own world I notice my fear of failure was actually keeping me from trying new things. If I never tried, I could never fail. Then I had to question my definition of the word failure. In essence to me it meant not achieving a certain end you had set out to accomplish. Now it may mean something slightly different to you, but in general I think we are close here. I realized by fearing failure I had not tried, therefore I had not accomplished much of anything. It was keeping me from learning and growing. I also had to ask myself the tough question “what happens when I do fail to reach my goal? What happens when I fail?” Again I thought of Edison and his quote about having to try 10,000 different materials to find one that worked as a filament in a light bulb. When someone asked him how he could keep going after failing so many times. he responded “I didn’t fail, I just discovered 10,000 ways that didn’t work” I always read that and thought I am not sure if after 100 times of trying something I would keep going…maybe even after 50 or 25 depending on the situation. Yet look what having a deadline does to most of us. As a deadline draws nearer our action intensifies, we begin to try anything and everything to get this accomplished. Have you ever done this? maybe the night before an exam? Even if we fall a little short we walk away with more knowledge and a far better chance of succeeding next time. An example from my personal life is as follows. Let’s say i set a certain amount of my book I would like to sell in a month. As the end of the month grows closer I will try many different methods to get my book in the hands of as many people as I can. Some may work, some may not. Now if the end of the month comes and i am short of my number should I feel terrible? Like a letdown? No! I sold more books than if I had no goal at all. Than if I had been afraid to try and afraid to fail. I also will have learned some new marketing tools and some that may be a waste of time and money. All because I wasn’t afraid to fail. Think of your own life. What are you fearing doing? What may you learn if you embrace that possibility of failing? Why are goals so damn important anyway? That is what we will look at tomorrow!
Why on earth would a blog about living a fulfilling and positive life be encouraging fear? Two reasons. First, it is Halloween and it is generally a time when spirits and ghost stories receive front page press. Second fear plays a great deal in determining the quality of our life. Fear of death and illness can keep many people from stepping outside their comfort zone and trying things that may bring amazing things into their lives. Fear of differences and personal rejection may stop people from starting conversations with new and unique people who could bring a great deal into their lives. Fear of failure can often paralyze people from pursuing their dreams and bringing not only joy to their world, but light and beauty to the world in general. Feeling inspired yet? Ok, neither am I, but the truth is that is only the dark side of fear. That is only half of the picture. Fear has another side as well. Fear can be protective. Fear of injury keeps most of us from driving reckless. Fear of hurting another person’s feelings can often keep us from saying hurtful things and finding a more productive way to resolve conflicts. That same fear of failure can motivate us to better prepare. When you hear news your job may be a victim of a layoff it can motivate you to search for additional sources of income or examine your budget and spending habits. The fear of suffering the same health issues that plagued your family can inspire you to live a healthier life. The point here is simple. Fear, like many other emotions can either be our servant or our master. It all depends on how we handle it. Does a fear of public speaking cause you to freeze up or to review your notes one final time? Does the fear of a culture you do not understand prevent you from associating with those people or does it motivate you to educate yourself on aspects of that culture to demystify your thoughts? Think of some of your fears, do they control you or do you employ them in your journey toward a more rewarding life? We all have a mix of both, but the goal is to start attacking our fears one by one and making them serve us instead of the other way around. The earlier we face our fears, before they have a chance to take hold in our minds the easier to conquer them. Of course the feeling of overcoming a life-long free gives us freedom that is almost unequaled. So this Halloween while enjoying your favorite ghost story or scary movie ponder your own fears and how you can use them to assist you.