I’ve sat for quite a few hours now trying to write a blog post. The problem is not what you might call writer’s block. I’m not short of subjects that I want to write about in fact I have several. The problem is that as I begin to explore each idea, I’m struggling to visualize what the end result, the finished post will look like, so rather than begin to write I start thinking about another subject instead.
Of the several potential topics that I have been considering writing about, one is the importance of starting. As I sat looking at the blank page pondering how a post about the importance of starting would end, I suddenly burst out laughing. My preoccupation with what the end result might look like was stopping me from even attempting to start it in the first place.
It’s my belief that not starting stems from fear. When we avoid or put off starting something that we know deep down is right for us, the only explanation in my mind is fear and for me it usually boils down to either a fear of failure or more often than not a fear of success.
Being scared of success is something I only started to consider a few years ago when I read this beautiful poem by Marianne Williamson.
Our deepest fear
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.
The first time I read this poem, it had a huge impact on me because I realised that for years I had been expending huge amounts of energy hiding myself away and avoiding starting things that I wanted to, in an attempt to avoid being truly successful. The more I talk to people about this concept the more I realize that I’m not alone in this.
I can’t help feeling that British culture encourages failure, we’re a nation known for supporting the underdog and whilst on the surface this seems commendable, I can’t help thinking that it’s because deep down we are so uncomfortable with success that rather than support the winners and champions of this world, we feel much more comfortable backing those more likely to fail.
Fear of success is something I struggle with in many areas of my life. I’ll give you some examples. Years ago I used to play badminton every week with the same friend. Inevitably, I would lose the first game, find the fight within me to win the second game, then riding high on my win, I’d take the lead in the third before losing dramatically through a quick succession of stupid mistakes. In the end I got so frustrated with this predictable pattern that I stopped playing. Deep down I think I knew back then that it was a fear of success that stopped me winning the game (although my badminton partner might see it differently!).
More recently when I published my most successful post to date, I have since, found myself struggling to find my usual enthusiasm for this blog. It’s no surprise to me that when people sit up and take notice of a post that I’ve written, that I suddenly feel a desire to pull back and hide away from the attention I’ve attracted. Fear of success is something I continue to work on and I do that by feeling the fear and doing it anyway or at the very least starting to do something, anything that moves me forward.
In this vein, I feel like I’ve broken free from some serious chains lately, including other people’s definitions of success for me as well as my need to fit in with what everyone else around me is doing. When I started out on my journey to live life on my terms I had no idea what the end result would be. I’m now less than nine weeks away from realizing my life-long dream to travel the world and I know that all of this wouldn’t be possible unless two years ago, I’d made a small first step towards this by starting to put some money away each month to pay for the trip.
Everyone has a dream or two inside themselves and over the last couple of months several people I know have told me how inspired they are by what I’m doing and how seeing me go after my dreams has made them evaluate the path that they are on. Nothing makes me happier than getting this kind of feedback and what I’ve realised lately is that for me, success means spending the rest of my life inspiring others to live the life of their dreams and be the best that they can be. I can’t do that by hiding way. I can only do that by stepping up.
I believe that the best piece of advice that I could give you right now to improve your chances of being successful and achieving your dreams is to start now. Not tomorrow or the next day or even never, because perhaps you’ve been telling yourself you’re too old to do whatever it is that you’ve always wanted to do, but right now. Do something, anything that moves you one step closer. And whatever you do, don’t start worrying about the end result otherwise you’ll feel too overwhelmed by your fears of both success and failure to even start.
When you do start, be mindful of the fact that fear will undoubtedly show up and try his damned hardest to convince you that you’re making a huge mistake. I usually combat this by acknowledging fear, giving him a respectful nod and then politely telling him to do one. Trust me he gets the message eventually.
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. ~ Henry David Thoreau
When I started this post, I had no idea what it would end up looking like and now that I’ve finished it I’m thinking that it turned out alright. If you agree, please do share it by hitting one of the buttons below and as soon as you’ve done that, don’t forget to do one thing that moves you in the direction of your dreams.