Life By Design: Moving Through Fear

I want to write about how to get started, how to reframe your desires and begin designing your life. What I’ve learned about how to break down the made-up rules that are governing your creative freedom. I want to write and teach you about outcomes instead of goals and how to live from a values-led place. I want to write and talk about fear, how it’s most dangerous when it stops the movement already happening within us.

I want to write and talk about integration with our whole selves and how to create a life that is space for your authentic self. And I want to add in the observations about life, death and love that are welled up within me – but I don’t. I’m too afraid of humiliation and judgment to write those. So they boil inside me, emotions churning when I ought to turn them into words and let them go free.

I want to write in such a powerful voice that you cannot help but be changed or to at least consider a different path or possibility to the one you know. I want to write for you and share all these things I believe are important and could make us difference to us all. But that seems impossible today.

Fear is most dangerous when it threatens to stop our onward movement, the organic growth that is already going on within us.

I want to write for you because for the entirety of my life I have wanted to help people think differently. Not necessarily the same way I think but to see the possibility that you can design your life anyway you like. That the truth is maybe simpler but also less apparent that what we believe. I want to write for you because I want to make a meaningful difference in the world.

But not today. Today, I’m too afraid and fearful of humiliation. Of not being enough. Not being smart enough, wise enough or having the right pithy quote. I’m afraid I’m just noise adding to the chaos and you tolerate my thoughts.

Today, I’m stuck in the fear loop.

Fear makes me stop and gets me stuck. Fear is most dangerous when it threatens to stop our onward movement, the organic growth that is already going on within us. So I just have to write for the sake of it. So I don’t get stuck. So I don’t stop.

In the same way I had to get up and workout this morning for the sake of it, not because I felt strong or motivated. I didn’t even workout because I’ve been feeling self-conscious. I just did it for the sake of it. For the sake of not being stuck. For every outcome you are striving for, there is an underlying fear but there will also be a simple next step you can apply to move through fear into action.

Here’s a life-by-design strategy to help you determine your next steps.

Step One: Ask yourself this question
Are you stuck because you need to figure out what’s next or because you’re afraid?
If the answer is you’re trying to figure out what next stay tuned and read this post.
If you are stuck for a completely different reason, tell me what it is.
If the answer is remotely related to fear then move to Step Two.

Step Two: Understand how fear is working against you
What’s the unbearable feeling that fear is driving towards? I’ve shared mine above. Then ask yourself what’s the worst possible outcome if what I fear becomes true? Answer honestly and don’t catastrophize the scenario. For example, if I have a deadline and the worst possible outcome is that I didn’t get it 100% right – that’s not a disaster. The steps to remediate will be simple. You need to understand what your fear is in order to take away it’s power.

Step Three: Do it for the sake of it
We might also call this, feel the fear and do it anyway. Whatever the next step is, do it. Whatever your life is about right now, just do it for the sake of it. When you are stuck by fear, it’s difficult to motivate yourself out of it or to use ‘change feelings’ mode as a long-term solution. So you have to acknowledge the fear and understand it, then do it for the sake of it. Don’t do it in spite of your fear – we don’t want to live with fear, we want to disempower it. So do it for the sake of the thing you want to do.

What are you doing right now?
I don’t mean the laundry or making dinner, passing time on your phone while waiting for something else to come along. What are you really doing right now? Are you trying to resolve a difficult relationship? Are you trying to achieve an outcome in your health, self-esteem, career, adventure? Or is there something you want but you just can’t bring yourself to do what you need to do? Are you trying to write a book or find more fulfilment in life?

Right now, I’m trying to create a new consulting business, write an essay, complete my client deadlines, do my taxes and invoicing and to lose a dress size. And in each one of those things, there are fears sitting under the surface that threaten to stop me. So I have to do the next step, regardless.

Here are some examples from my own life

Outcomes and Fears

OutcomeFearFear OutcomeNext Step
Creating a new businessI'm afraid I'm not going to be successful, that it's not going to make a differenceI'm not going to have enough money to pay the bills or do what I want so I have to do something less meaningful,  sacrifice my freedom and autonomyMake a list of the right clients/work.
Writing an essayI'm afraid I won't be popular or that people will stop readingI get no reaction or I lose readers, or I get negative feedback but I might gain new followers or learn something from the processFinish one of my drafts
Completing client deadlines


I'm afraid I'm not good at this and people will be disappointed in my resultsMy reputation is damaged and people are unhappy with me and I have to make amends or put it rightSend a draft first and get feedback
Taxes and invoicing
I'm afraid to ask people for money in case they're not happy with my work
People don't pay their bills or they give me negative feedback so I might have to change my plans or learn to do better
Hire someone to do this
Losing a dress sizeI'm afraid that I'll fail and look foolish, never feel beautifulPeople are disappointed in me or don't think I'm attractive or being responsible for my healthExercise each day

Sometimes you just have to do it for the sake of it.Do you see how it plays out? So what are you doing right now? What’s the fear that’s trying to stop your momentum and what’s the next step you can take?

Disclaimer: Sometimes, being stuck is a good thing. If you’re stuck because you’re not sure where you want to go next, that’s okay.  ‘The trouble is, being stuck can feel like going nowhere, but a lot of the time, being stuck is just the break your sub-conscious needed to figure out what’s next and how to navigate it.’

Next Steps
Has this been helpful for you? Please let me know by leaving a comment or dropping me a note. I believe it’s never too soon to share something you’ve learned or found helpful, so if you know someone this strategy might help, please share it with them too. You can join this conversation on Facebook too.

2 Comments

  • Well Tash Let me make one observation. The sooner in life you care less about what ‘the others’ think and decide that, no matter what they threaten you need to go your own way, the sooner you are liberated from fear. Of course there are some others whose opinion you need to value and take on board and, in my case, one person whose opinion I value above all others. But it seems to me that my life needs to be guided by
    1. Is what I’m about to do or say loving?
    2. is it going to be positively transformative for others
    3. Is it fair/just
    Or does it contribute to that happening in some way? When I’m dying I want to be able to say I genuinely tried to make a positive difference for others rather than to be looking at all the useless toys I can’t take with me.

    • Tash McGill says:

      I agree with all you say. And I’d even counter with ‘the others’ is often merely a mirror of the anxious self, the one who hasn’t fully embraced their authentic self. Tends to be the False self that gets caught up in what others think. I’m trying to be practical and helpful about how to move through that fear until the fear is disempowered. Not everyone has your strength of character or the experienced and refined filter of personal values. But I’m about to write more on that too. 🙂

What do you think?