By Ryan Williams
Advice is incredibly abundant in this world.
Everyone has a list of values and beliefs they have developed based on their experiences and influences in life.
With those values and beliefs, we all construct our own subconscious manual for how we direct our own lives, as well as what to tell others when they confide in us.
Some of the most frequent advice you’ve probably heard (and maybe even given yourself) are things like…
“Follow your dreams”
“Follow your passion”
“Do what makes you happy”
While this advice comes from a good place, it will keep you from experiencing the greatest joys in life if you don’t follow the advice from the title of this article.
FOLLOW YOUR FEARS
Now, what on earth do I mean by that?
Well for starters, let’s acknowledge the fact that fear is very healthy, and it has served us as humans for a long time.
Before we had the security we have today, humans developed the fight or flight instincts to know when they might not be safe from predators.
Nowadays, we don’t have the same sorts of concerns, but that fight or flight response
still influences our life.
Remember, fear is instinctively there to protect us.
It is worth being fearful of drinking and getting behind the wheel, or taking caution when there is a threat for natural disasters.
But the fear I am talking about is when we fear challenges in life instead of fearing things for safety reasons.
Fearing starting something new because what if I fail?
Fearing becoming someone new because I will have to give up my old identity.
Fearing starting that side hustle that could potentially allow you to quit your job because what if I start it, tell my friends, and then it crashes and I have to explain myself?
Fearing leaving that toxic relationship you’ve stayed in too long because what will people say?
When you get those uncomfortable feelings, step back and try to see what your fear is telling you.
Often times, fear is the breadcrumbs that lead to a new path in life.
If you didn’t follow your fear and go talk to that girl, you wouldn’t have met your wife.
If you didn’t follow your fear and go to the gym, even though you were nervous about people looking at you funny, you never would have lost that weight and started feeling the best you’ve ever felt.
If you didn’t follow your fear, you would have never had that difficult conversation that made your relationship stronger than ever.
All I’m saying is fear is often times an indicator for exactly what you should do next.
Overcoming fear is one of the most empowering things in this life.
It is one of the greatest confidence builders because it creates resiliency and essentially adds to a list of accomplishments you can look back on and be proud of yourself for.
When we are unconfident, it is often times because we haven’t earned confidence yet.
You must go through things that are difficult or that scare you at first in order to grow into your greatest self.
Steven Pressfield writes in his book The War of Art, “… the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul.”
So write that book.
Ask that girl out.
Start that side hustle.
It just may be the greatest decision you ever made.
One trick I learned from Tim Ferriss’ blog a while back is the idea of imagining the worst case scenario whenever you are fearful.
Many times when we feel like we are overthinking, we are actually under-thinking it.
The worst case for asking the girl out is she says no and you feel a bit embarrassed for a brief moment and you may or may not see her in public again down the road.
So that’s the risk in the equation.
The potential reward is she may just be your favorite person and the one you spend the rest of your life with.
When you put the risk to reward in to perspective, it almost makes the initial fear seem silly.
Maybe give it a try next time you are feeling some healthy fear pop up.
Think about all the things you’ve accomplished in life and all the things you pushed through that ended up paying off.
You couldn’t have achieved those things if you avoided fear and remained in your comfort zone.
You can do difficult things now and have an easy life later or you can do the easy things now and have a hard life later.
The decision is yours.
Now go follow your fears, kids.