What is the reason behind that we all have dreams and goals, but only a very small percentage of us ever achieve them? What are those lucky few doing that most aren’t? What’s stopping us from making our dreams come true, from achieving our lifelong goals? In almost every instance, the cause is fear.

More specifically, it’s usually the fear of failure. We can do what we are dreaming about, but we are so afraid of failure that we stop right in our tracks. Let’s talk about the definition of fear, how to recognize it, and what to do to overcome it.

What is fear?

Fear, in and of itself, is nothing more than an emotion and an illusion. Countless times, we’ve all been afraid to do something but we went ahead and did it anyway, and felt a tremendous amount of relief and accomplishment, and all of the fear and anxiety just went away. Quite often, that doesn’t happen so easily with the fear of failure. You have to work at it, because it’s a phobia that leads to a constricted lifestyle.

That’s right, the fear of failure is a phobia, an irrational but severe level of fear that has no basis in reality. It’s called atychiphobia, and Wikipedia defines it as “the abnormal, unwarranted, and persistent fear of failure.”

What’s the process of identifying and overcoming fear?

How can you recognize when it’s fear stopping you from fulfilling your dreams? You’ve got a pretty good idea now of what fear is, but how can you see when that’s all that’s stopping you from doing what you want? There are a few tell-tale markers of fear that you can look for.

  • Making excuses
  • Procrastinating
  • Getting nervous or anxious
  • Being reluctant to try new things

Fear lowers our self-esteem, and makes us say things like, “There is no way that I can start my own business.” You have to overcome this fear, but how do you do that? Keep reading, and I’ll tell you my story and how I learned to overcome my fear.

How can we overcome the fear?

I graduated from Ole Miss after fulfilling my lifelong dream of earning a full D1 football scholarship. I also failed fifth grade, which gave me an intense amount of anxiety about my academic strengths. Since I’m only five foot seven inches tall and 150 pounds soaking wet, I also had quite a bit of fear about trying out for Ole Miss’s football team. As a result of that fear, I made excuses why I shouldn’t go to the tryout, I was nervous and assumed that the big-time players were laughing at me, and I procrastinated when I was gearing up. Those are the hallmarks of what fear causes us to do: make excuses, procrastinate, and get nervous. So here are the 4 steps to overcoming fear we can immediately do to stop fear in its tracks.


1. Stop making excuses

Fear of failure led me to do the same thing when I wanted to write a book about my experiences at Ole Miss. I made excuses. I was never a good writer, but I always sought help and improved myself. I thought authors were esoteric, and here I was, a guy who failed the fifth grade. What business did I have writing a book? Once I came to realize that I was just making excuses, I was one step closer to overcoming my fear.

2. Ignore the anxiety

When we allow ourselves to wallow in nervousness and anxiety, it can reduce our self-esteem and make us only do the things we are already good at or compete against people we know we can defeat. What fun is that? If we ignore the anxiety, or use it to drive us towards doing better, we step a bit closer towards defeating our fear and achieving our dreams.

3. Plan it out

One of the best ways to get past anxiety is through planning. Think about all of the possible outcomes of a situation, and create a Plan B for those outcomes. Don’t spend all your time planning, of course, but make sure you have an out when things go south.

4. Just do it

It might be a cliché slogan coined by Nike, but it’s the best way to describe getting over procrastination. Just do it. Quit waiting around for reasons not to do it, and get ’er done. That doesn’t mean to jump in head-first, because it’s still important to plan, but once you have a plan in place, execute that plan.

Okay, sounds good, but how do I put it into practice?

I’ve learned how to identify fear and ultimately overcome it, so here’s my challenge to you: what is the fear that’s stopping you? Is it a fear of that potential client turning you down? Is it fear of being laughed at in the gym? Are you afraid of starting that business? What dreams do you have, and what’s stopping you from achieving those dreams?

Think about that, and write down your dream on the top of a sheet of paper. Below that, write one action you can take to get closer to that dream. Ignore the well of fear that might be hitting you right now, pick an action that you can to today, and do it.

Tomorrow, write down your dream again, and then write down the next action. Then do it. If you do this for 30 days, you will start to see steady progress towards your dream, and you might even accomplish your dream in the space of that month. You might have new ideas pop up, and your life will change from doing that one action a day.

All you need to do is understand what fear is, how to recognize it when it hits, and how to overcome that emotion. Remember that fear is just an illusion, and it’s only as powerful as you let it be. Think about all of the possible outcomes, create a plan B, and just do it. Comment below with the fear that is stopping you and your action to over come it?


My Book In Spite of the Odds:

Podcast itunes: How to Overcome Fear