You’ve heard the expression credited to FDR, “You have nothing to fear but fear itself.” It makes sense, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to internalize and follow. People all over the world, living inside every socio economic status, allow fear to stop them from realizing their dreams. I believe a lot fewer people would allow this to happen if they realized that everyone has fear, even the very successful people who’ve taken big risks. Fear is not your brain telling you that you will fail. Fear is a survival mechanism, designed to keep you safe, but living a safe life never got anyone to her goals. Fortune favors the bold.
Have you ever let fear stop you from taking your shot?
The only difference between the successful people I mentioned above and the person who lets fear rule her life is boldness. My definition of boldness is “doing the thing despite the fear telling you not to do the thing”. It’s easy to imagine that people who’ve dared greatly were able to do so because they weren’t afraid, but that’s just simply not true. They were afraid but they were also bold, and bold triumphs over fear every time.
Back in 2010, my husband and I had grown disillusioned with our lives in S. Florida. We wanted adventure, travel, a different cultural experience, and an escape from the rat race that had consumed our lives. I came up with this harebrained idea to go live in another country. My husband, being the supportive, saint-like, superhusband that he is, thought it sounded like fun.
I honestly do not know if Husband was afraid, but I sure was. I could have let that fear stop me from going any further than having a wild dream. But my vision was so clear! I wanted that life so badly!
We decided on France because we’d both taken French in high school and had visited the country a few years prior and loved it (a very naive way of picking a country to live in, we found out later, but it worked out very well anyway!) In my mind’s eye, I could clearly see us walking down cobblestone streets, sitting in cafés sipping hot drinks (Husband: coffee, Me: chocolat chaud), speaking fluent French, living this fantastical dream.
Every day, multiple times a day, I would envision this life. I read books on the subject of living in France, learned about French culture, and made connections with people who’d already done what I wanted to do (online). I met French friends of friends (shout out to Lady Olivia who really made our lives in France so special.) I did everything I could to immerse myself in my vision.
I was set on making it happen, even though the fear was sometimes overwhelming. The mean girl who lives in my head was on fire the entire time. “This is nuts!”, she yelled. “Your kids will fail in school and be held back!”, “You could get arrested and end up in a dark French prison cell with no legal representation!”, “You’ll run out of money and end up on the street!”, “People will mock you! You’ll lose all credibility! Your career and life will be in ruins!” She was loud, and she was persistent. I made great efforts to block her voice through positive visions of the life I wanted. I was mostly successful; and on the days that I wasn’t, I talked about our dream with my husband. His calming and supportive presence won out every time.
Was I afraid on the day that we sold everything we owned, packed a duffle bag for each of us adults and 3 kids and lined up at the ticket counter in Miami? Yes. Was I afraid when we put our little Hercules the Poodle in a kennel and handed him over to the airline baggage handler to be put on a plane to Europe, riding along underneath us over the Atlantic Ocean? Uh, yes. Was I afraid when we landed in Paris not speaking a damn word of French with a temporary place to live and the need to find more permanent digs? Hell yes! But I didn’t let all that fear stop me. My desire to get what I wanted was stronger than my fear. I tapped into my boldness.
HERE’S HOW I DID IT: MY GAME PLAN FOR BOLDNESS
- I envisioned the life I wanted, down to the very last detail.
- I researched the life I wanted so I felt confident that I had it right, that what I was imagining was technically possible.
- I came up with a Plan B, Plan C, and Plan D that still supported the life I envisioned (i.e., I thought of worst cast scenarios and planned around them.)
- I played the video of my future life in my head every night before I went to sleep and often during the day when I had a moment to spare.
- I immersed myself in the life I wanted, even before I moved. We watched French movies, listened to French music and radio, did Rosetta Stone online, etc. I kept my mind on what I wanted all the time and I refused to focus on what could go wrong or what negative things people were saying.
- I had a supportive partner who was there to brainstorm with, who cheered me on, who believed I could make it happen, who dreamed right along with me.
- I put all the pieces in place to make it happen. I committed fully to the vision. I sold our house and belongings, got Italian passports (via my family tree), raised money to fund the trip though selling our stuff, got a job in Paris before we moved with a pre-visit, and made French friends prior to going over.
FRAME WHAT YOU ARE DOING IN SUCH A WAY THAT FEAR CANNOT TAKE HOLD
Moving my family of 5 plus the pup to France was one hell of a bold move, but I didn’t think of it that way. Looking at something as HUGE has a tendency to make it seem more like an obstacle than a dream to be attained. Instead, I simply looked at it as the life I wanted to live and the life I wanted for my family. We had plenty of naysayers (almost everyone was 100% against it), but we realized that so many people saw what we were doing and only listened to the fear that jumped up in their hearts over it. We could have let that same fear rule our actions, and we never would have gone. . .and what a mistake that would have been!
We lived in France for almost 9 years. Our children learned to speak French fluently (we learned to speak it well enough!), we made lifelong friends, met loves, learned to live and travel internationally (sometimes alone, both us and our children), owned a vineyard, built a house out of a 500 year old barn, ate a lot of cheese, laughed and sang and loved and lived in a very different but adventurous and fulfilling life. We gave our children the opportunity of a lifetime, one that most American children will never receive. And we did it being afraid the entire time.
The key is to see fear as a necessary part of the experience. Respect it but recognize its limitations. Fear is there to keep you safe, but much like the Lizard Brain I’ve spoken of before, sometimes it goes overboard trying to do its job. In the case of realizing your dreams, it’s better to thank the fear for watching your back but then move forward anyway. Be bold. Make it happen.
I became The Business Life Coach™ in part because I love making bold moves and watching other people make them too. I am standing ready to be the wingwoman or supportive virtual partner you need to turn your bold dreams into bold action. I’ve often said that if I hadn’t had my husband standing at my side telling me we could make this life happen exactly as I envisioned, I probably would have chickened out. Having a supportive partner (romantic or otherwise) can be extremely important to the success of your adventure.
If you have some bold ideas or bold plans, but realize that fear is holding you back, give me a call. The first 20-minutes is always free, and I’d love nothing more than to inspire you to take that shot. Like Mia Hamm, I learned a long time ago that there’s something worse than missing a goal, and that is never taking the shot in the first place.