At times, my sessions with clients have a pattern. This past week, I saw several people who really need to be courageous and do something that both takes guts and is absolutely necessary for moving ahead. I thought about Susan Jeffers' classic book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, and how at times we have to summon the courage to face fear and push past it towards a better relationship, career, life, and version of ourselves.
Many of us live in a world that is too small. One concept of Jeffers' that I love is that we all live in a box. Fear exists outside of your comfort zone-- your box. To grow, we need to move to the next larger box. If you are living without any experience of fear at all, it may be because you are not growing. Fear isn't necessarily a bad thing.
While some risks are foolish, there are other risks which honor our true self, and help us become more developed. How can we know what our potential is, if we live in a world that's so small that we never experience any fear?
Fear is sometimes to be noticed, but not given the power to cripple you. Everyone is afraid of something. The bottom level fear for most people, as Jeffers identifies, is the fear that “I won't be able to handle it.” That “it” could be different for each of us: it might be dealing with illness, being alone, losing someone you love dearly, experiencing financial loss, or any number of other fears.
Developing your own life is important. Loss and changes happen. Preparing yourself for change and loss by developing a life with multiple facets and sources of satisfaction and growth helps. Jeffers created a whole life grid, a grid with different boxes which can represent areas of your life. Each box can symbolize one sector: work, family, physical health, spirituality, emotional health, finances, volunteer work, friendships, home, travel, creative life, etc.
In each box, you can set a goal and a first step. This might look like, in your physical health area, setting a goal to become more toned and flexible. Your step could be checking out the Pilates studio closest to your home or office about an introductory lesson. In each box of your grid, you can choose a step and a goal. Then pick about 3 boxes to start with, so you don't feel overwhelmed.
The more you invest in different aspects of your life and more developed you become, the better! It acts as an insurance policy of sorts, so that all of your energy is not invested in one box--for example, work. Life is uncertain, so building a broad foundation with multiple sources of satisfaction and strengths puts you in your strongest position.
A few months ago, I participated in a seminar where each person was asked to share what they would do this year if they were not afraid. The responses and positive energy were powerful. You might ask yourself this same question and see what comes to mind. If you need a gentle push towards setting some goals, reading Susan Jeffers' delightful classic Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway might be just the ticket.
Growing new edges, taking smart risks, and trying new things are all important for our personal growth. Notice fear, but don't let it stop you from becoming a better version of yourself.