I won’t lie to you. Centering your life around your purpose isn’t always easy. You might have to take multiple leaps of faith as you make major (and minor) changes to put your purpose first. I remember times when the fear of following my purpose was so huge and terrifying, I thought it would swallow me whole. I recall being afraid of what people might say, making the wrong choices, losing my place on the company ladder, and failing financially. These doubts would constantly nibble at me, but I decided to either ignore them or face them so I could fully step into my purpose.
To do this, I had to stomp out my fear. I had to make sure I controlled it, instead of the other way around. This wasn’t always an easy task, and I had to go about my “fear stomping” with intentionality. After all, fear is a natural biological response to uncertainty, and it can affect you on a mental, physical, and emotion level.
To start stomping out your fears, try these 3 simple steps...
1. List your Fears
If you’re on the brink of a big change, it’s helpful to list your fears. Write them ALL down, big and small. Nothing is too minor to exclude from the list. This may be an uncomfortable or anxiety-inducing exercise, but it is incredibly useful. After listing my fears, I find that I actually feel much better.
There is power in naming your fears. It contains them and gives them context. When they’re all written down, you’ll start to feel like you have greater control over them—that they are simply items on a checklist that can be handled one at a time.
2. Rank Them
Once you’ve taken the time to list your fears, go through each item and assign them a “probability rank.” What are the chances of a certain fear coming true? This isn’t scientific, so don’t overthink it! Simply write high, medium, or low next to each bullet point.
The purpose of this exercise is to put your fears into perspective. Is it likely that someone will run a smear campaign on social media against you, just because you’re quitting your job? Is it likely that the entire office will hate you for making a certain decision? If you’re like me, your imagination tends to go wild with potential scenarios. By assigning a probability to those scenarios, you can take a step back and say, “Okay, I guess this isn’t terribly likely after all.”
But what about the items on your list that are likely? For instance, if you quit your job to pursue your purpose, you’ll probably experience at least a little blowback. Or your financial situation might change (at least in the short-term). For any “high probability” fears, you can consider the potential outcome and begin planning your approach. That’s where Step 3 comes in to play…
3. Identify Mitigation Strategies
After identifying the probability of your fears coming to fruition, it’s a good idea to immediately get into “mitigation mode.” Mitigation is a term often used in legal settings, but it definitely applies here. Essentially, what tactics will you take to deal with any negative outcomes?
Start listing ideas next to each item on your list—whatever comes to mind. Focus on the high-probability items first. For example, before leaving a certain job that didn’t match my purpose, I began with my biggest fear: losing or damaging the relationships with people I had hired on my team. My mitigation strategy was to talk to each person, one on one, tell them my reasons for leaving, and offer any support I could on my way out. It turns out, my fear of blowback was largely unjustified! My team was incredibly understanding and supportive of my decision, and my candidness helped to prep them for my departure.
Fear is a natural part of life—and a major component of any big, life-altering decisions—but it doesn’t have to control you. Wrangle your fears and then stomp out them out by applying these three steps. Your purpose is too important to be dictated by fear.