What would you pursue if it was somehow guaranteed that you would be successful?
What’s stopping you from going after your dreams?
If you're like most other people, the answer is probably fear: fear that you won’t be good enough, you’ll never have enough money, fear that your efforts won’t be rewarded, and the list goes on.
Succumbing to fear is like living with a bad mental cold: it will clog you up and stop you from living your best life. Nothing blocks creativity and potential more than fear.
As human beings, it’s in our nature to avoid anything that causes us to feel fear or discomfort. We take mental and physical “detours” all the time, re-routing ourselves so we don’t have to face fear, and we do this so automatically that it often happens on a subconscious level.
In our fast-paced culture, we are very used to getting what we want quickly and conveniently. This has conditioned us to be a little wimpy—sometimes a lot wimpy.
The truth is, we usually give up way too quickly.
No one is immune to this fear. Let me use myself as an example: I love art, but I haven’t picked up a paintbrush in months. Why? Because I’m scared of failing! It seems like everywhere I look, I see incredible speed drawers, amazingly detailed paintings, and “how to” art videos that make the artist look like they’re not struggling with the creative process whatsoever.
Now, when I sit down to paint a picture, spend 3 hours on it, and still don’t feel like it’s all that great, I get frustrated, ashamed, and fearful. So, I stop…and the fear of “what if I never get better” sets in, paralyzing me and causing me to reach for the TV remote instead of picking up a paintbrush, because that way I won’t be reminded of the fact that I’m not as good of an artist as I want to be.
The Vital Mindset Shift to Progress Your Life
However, I have learned something that I know from experience helps a great deal when pushing myself to grow, and that is having a growth mindset.
If you’ve never heard of it, a growth mindset is basically the opposite of a “fixed” mindset.
Growth Mindset: Believing that greater effort yields greater results. You get good at something because you work hard. Or, in the words of Einstein…
It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer – Albert Einstein.
There’s an incredible TED Talk that covers this in more detail—check it out below!
Fixed Mindset: Believing that if someone is better than you at something, it must mean they were “born that way,” and there’s really nothing you can do about it. A fixed mindset would have you believe that your success and skills are “capped,” and you have all the talents now that you ever will.
Note: this is ALWAYS false—don’t fall for it!
2 Reasons to Choose a Growth Mindset & Push Through Your Discomfort
When you have a growth mindset and push through your discomfort, a couple of things will happen:
- You will realize that it’s not as hard as you thought. We over-dramatize things that we’re afraid of. Pushing through fear will help you realize that the fear of something is not nearly as bad as the thing itself. Of course, it still may be hard—maybe even very hard—but you’ll realize that you can take baby steps into progress, and baby steps aren’t so scary.
- You will get more ideas. It’s good to work creatively under a broad range of emotions. Each emotion “flavors” your work. For instance, what would happen if you only cooked with one spice? It might still taste good, but it would only ever reflect that one flavor. If you cooked with a broad range of spices, however, you’d get a broad range of flavors. Even tough emotions, like fear, can help you achieve something new and interesting. You just have to work despite the fear!
The truth is, fear will always be a part of life. There are famous performers who still get nervous before going on stage every single time. But they keep doing it anyway, because it’s worth it, and even though the fear might not entirely go away, they get used to feeling it and pushing through despite it.
Think about what happens when you lift heavy weights. It’s tough, and it makes your arms sore. It’s not comfortable. But, if you do it everyday, you will get stronger, and it won’t be as uncomfortable. Does the weight get lighter? Nope. It remains just as heavy as it ever was. The changing factor is you getting stronger!
So, even though fear will always be a part of life, the more we deal with it, the stronger we will become.
The happiness you will get from pursuing your passion and charging through the fear will outweigh any discomfort by a landslide.
Plus, fear doesn’t last forever. It’s usually the initial feeling you get before launching yourself out of your comfort zone, but as you get stronger, you will see for yourself that you can do hard things.