Anytime we are stepping out of our comfort zone and trying for something, whether that be asking someone on a date, starting a new business, climbing mountains, changing jobs, etc., we are going to feel some degree of fear. Our minds want to keep us safe and it's easy to confuse the fear with whether we should take the next step or stay in our safe, comfort zone.
I remember when I started my business(14 years ago this week!), I remember thinking: How risky is this? Is it worth it? Can I really make this happen? Do I have what it takes? I remember being super nervous and fearful, but excited too. Someone recently told me that I was fearless. No, I most definitely experience fear.
I also spend a lot of my free time hiking, trail running and mountain biking. There have been big falls that created some fear when I did my sport again and there are times I've walked along a cliff and felt my heart race. I arrived in foreign countries and felt panic initially when I didn't speak the language.
So what are the pros? Doing something I loved. Turning a passion into a career. Building my confidence when I faced my fears and did it anyway. The cons? Making mistakes. Taking on significant emotional and financial stress. Giving up a stable job. I may trip and fall down again and get hurt.
Ultimately, I decided I couldn't live forever in fear of the cons. Yes, there are risks involved with owning a biz. Yes, I may fall again when I trail run or mountain bike. There could be a root I trip over, I may have a slow month in my business. I may still have fear but I don't dwell on those fears. Instead, I acknowledge my fears, but I don't let them be in the driver's seat of my decisions. I continue run my business and I won't stop climbing or running mountains.
I created a mini road map of tools that helped me manage my fears of failure and to embrace risk. Whether you're starting your own company or trying to achieve another goal, these tips are highly relatable no matter what mountain you're trying to conquer:
1. Be honest with yourself
Before embarking on a risky endeavor, assess your strengths and weaknesses. What are your necessary hard and soft skills to improve the likelihood of success? If you don't, how can you acquire them, or whom can you bring on board to help?
2. Commit to the endeavor
Once you decide that you're equipped to take on the risk, commit and go for it. Wavering only increases fear and doubt. Don't look back. Stay focused on the end goal. You are more like to get what you want when you make a strong commitment to it. I love when I set out on a hike or a trail run, I have no choice but to find my way to the trail head. I can't quit or I will be stuck in the middle of the woods without food or water!
3. Stay grounded.
As you barrel toward your goal, it's easy to feel out of control and ungrounded. Fear is going to get triggered and you may want to run in the opposite direction! Learn to fight that feeling. Take small steps to remind yourself that you are taking action. I find it helpful to practice breathing exercises when my fear gets triggered or repeat a mantra about being calm, confident, and in control when I feel anything but that. This grounds me —and even embrace—the stress and chaos that comes from taking a risk. Eventually, you'll be able to climb your own mountain with both speed and finesse.
4. Trust Yourself
When you embark on this risk, some people may try to talk you out of it or tell you to change course. In those moments, you have to trust yourself and war's best for you. You've committed to it. No one knows the vision behind it better than you do, so stay true to your gut. I don't mean that you shouldn't be open to advice, but make sure that your decisions are aligned with the direction you've laid out. Sometimes a run feels totally effortless—every force and condition is in sync That's the sweet spot I seek out in decision-making.
5. Embrace your successes and learn from your mistakes
It's important to embrace your successes and the feelings of excitement, confidence, or power after taking a risk. Take time to acknowledge your accomplishments. However, remember there will definitely be mistakes, too—and maybe moments of regret and self-doubt. Don't let them stop you. Learn from them and continue going forward.
Every day I'm learning from new challenges. While I hope for more epic runs than crashes, I'm aware that there will be plenty of both along the way.
Just know, though, I don't for a second regret taking this crazy entrepreneurial risk or partaking in any of my outdoor adventures —so look down the mountain, take a deep breath, and get after it.
Licensed counselor, outdoor enthusiast, yoga lover and passionate about wellness.