Kim Kiyosaki on stage teaching the Rich Dad philosophy

Tried-and-True Tips for Overcoming Fear

To overcome your fears and chase your dreams, you need to move beyond your comfort zone

It’s a four-letter word we let control us far too often, possibly without even realizing it: FEAR. Perhaps you are yearning to move to Italy, but keep pushing it off because you aren’t quite sure how you’ll make ends meet. That’s fear preventing you from making the move and trusting you’ll make all the details work.

Maybe you want to quit your miserable corporate accounting job to open the cupcake shop you’ve been daydreaming about since high school, but worry about the lack of stability and benefits. That’s fear, once again, rearing its ugly head.

Or perhaps you’ve been reading the Rich Dad teachings for years and want so badly to make your first real estate investment, but haven’t moved forward because your uncle’s neighbor’s hairdresser’s boyfriend once lost some money on a rental property. Yup, fear has a firm hold on you.

But have no fear (see what I did there?): Overcoming fear is absolutely within your power, especially when it’s tied to achieving financial freedom.

When you feel like you can’t overcome your fears

If any of these examples rings true, then you have to find a way to banish this dirty word from your vocabulary — and, more importantly, from your subconscious. Fear holds you back from reaching your financial dreams, from growing both personally and professionally, from reaching your true potential, and from living your best life.

Why do we give fear so much power and let it paralyze us from making changes and moving forward? Because most people are risk-averse, and want to avoid embarrassing mistakes or painful lessons. I get that, but a certain level of fear is normal — even helpful. But there’s a fine line you must straddle between being overly cautious and completely carefree.

Every successful businessperson I know took risks and put plans into action in order to reach the top. Sure, they were scared, but their desire to reach their goal surpassed that fear. There are so many opportunities available to you — especially in the world of investing and entrepreneurship — that once you let the fear go, you’ll wonder why you didn’t take action sooner!

3 tips for overcoming fear

Let’s explore a few tips for overcoming fear that leaves you unable to move forward with your dreams:

  1. Create a plan. While some people fly by the seat of their pants, most others need to have a detailed plan in place in order to make a major life change. Start by setting clear goals and then create a detailed strategy for how you will achieve those goals. Then, and here’s the kicker, you must take action.

    Start with an easy step — perhaps that’s signing up for a free investing class if owning rental property is your dream but you don’t know how to go about achieving it. Once you cross something — anything! — off your overwhelming to-do list, you’ll feel relieved. You’ll gain some traction and that momentum will make you excited to tackle the next item on your list.

    If you’re truly working on something you’re passionate about, you’ll be invigorated by the progress you’re making each day.

  2. Look fear in the eyes. If you’ve been living life smack dab in the center of your comfort zone, then you’re missing out on a whole world of opportunities. Whether it’s taking a hot air balloon ride, making a five-course dinner or simply taking a different route to the office, it’s exhilarating to break out of the box you’re stuck in. Once you’ve conquered tasks along those lines, it’ll be easier to tackle other fears. Being just a little uncomfortable is OK, and the courage you gain from the experience will help you break down future barriers.

  3. Adopt a mantra. If you find yourself backing down from your dreams because your inner critic is constantly planting seeds of negativity and doubt, it’s helpful to find ways to block out that noise. Read inspiring books or blogs from successful entrepreneurs who came from nothing, practice guided meditations that deliver powerfully positive messages, repeat mantras or affirmations throughout the day (or write them on sticky notes and put them in various places around your home and office), or check out these inspiring quotes to help you overcome the fear of failure. Your mind is powerful.

Learning to face your fears

Ok, now this may seem to go against everything I just said, but there’s actually something to be said for learning to embrace your fear rather than focusing on overcoming it. In some ways, fear can be a good thing! So if you’re struggling with overcoming fear, try switching your approach to embracing it and using it to your advantage.

In an interview with the Harvard Gazette, Susan Hunt Stevens, the co-founder and CEO of a company called WeSpire, had some wise words for female entrepreneurs “Just get used to the fear. There is constant fear. But it’s so much fun, the fear kind of motivates you.”

That is wisdom not just for entrepreneurs but also for all women who want to grow in life.

I've always believed that, when it comes to big life decisions, if you are feeling afraid, you're most likely facing down something incredible on the other side. The points in life where we grow and achieve the most are also the times when we fear the most. Once we face down that fear, the sweetness of victory or the lessons learned from failure are priceless.

Overcome fear with a shift in your mindset

From my point of view, there are three key functions fear plays in a woman's path to success:

  1. Fear creates a decision point. Because fear is uncomfortable, no one wants to stay stuck in it. When you feel fear, you know you must make a decision. Either you’ll push through the fear and accomplish more than you ever expected, or you'll back down and return to what is comfortable. In either case, it forces you into a decision. The good news is that if you understand the dynamic of fear, you have power over it.

    When you realize that you are at a decision point, and that you, not the fear, are in control, you can choose to walk into your fear and discover what is on the other side.

  2. Fear stretches you further than you thought you could go. By nature, we’re creatures of comfort. The old adage, “stuck in a rut,” refers to how deer will take the same path to water from the woods over and over again, creating a rut over years. They don’t ever take a different way because the rut works just fine for them. But if they come to believe that path is now dangerous, they will find a new path. In the same way, we often get stuck in the rut of safety and security. When this happens, we don’t change and we don’t grow. Rather, we atrophy.

    If you want to grow to be more than you are, you need a little fear to shake things up and set you on a different path. Thankfully, it's exhilarating when this happens — if you're willing to embrace it. The best part? The more you grow, the broader your horizons get and the less likely you are to return to old ruts.

  3. Fear makes you feel alive. Thea Jourdan, writing for “Netdoctor,” shares some of the benefits of fear: “Fear actually does have a profound physiological effect on the body, which evolved to help us in a 'fight or flight' situation. In the first few seconds, adrenaline levels soar — leading to a state of heightened alertness and the muscles are primed for immediate action, explains Dr. Louise Selby, a GP based in Guildford, Surrey. The heartbeat quickens and the rate of breathing accelerates. As soon as the fear diminishes, I’'s replaced by a sense of powerfulness and euphoria, which can be addictive.” Under the right conditions, fear makes you feel more alive. The sense of accomplishment that comes after facing down your fear is irreplaceable, and it makes you all the more ready to take down your next challenge. It really is addicting!

How to overcome fear in life

As you can see, fear can be a powerful force. Fear is natural. Our fearful instincts can help us avoid danger. But that doesn't mean we should let the fear be in charge. Fear may keep us alive, but it can also prevent us from truly living. So it’s a balancing act when it comes to overcoming fear, embracing fear, or learning to take control of fear.

Fortunately, we have been blessed with the ability to take back control from our fear. We can do this by moving beyond what we think we fear and digging down to the underlying reason for our fear.

Here's an example:

"I'm afraid of investing."

Why?

"Because I'm afraid to lose money."

Why?

"Because I'm afraid that if I lose money I won't be able to provide for myself and my family and we will end up homeless and destitute."

Ah-ha! Now we’ve arrived at the real underlying fear you need to face. Though most people would agree it’s a legitimate reason for concern, it’s not an excuse.

So now the question is, how do we address the real fear so that this person feels safe to start investing so she can begin building her family’s financial future? Here are some possibilities:

  • She can set aside a nest egg that is for emergency purposes only — not for investing or regular spending. It might be three months’ worth of living expenses or more — whatever makes her feel comfortable.

  • She can secure (or maintain, if she already has one) a consistent stream of income from a job or other relatively reliable source that will provide for her family’s income needs while she plants her passive income “seeds” for the future.

  • She can manage her personal finances so that she brings in more money each month than she spends, so that she doesn’t acquire the burden of bad debt.

  • If she already has bad debt, she can set aside money each month to pay it down, using the simple method Robert and I used to eliminate over $1 million in debt.

  • She can put aside a certain amount of money each month in a separate account that is just for investment purposes. She will think of this as “play money” or “gambling money” — in other words, money she can afford to lose. Her goal is to use this money to make more money (i.e., invest), but if she loses it, it’s not a big deal because she knows she can build the account up to try again (and can rest easy because her emergency nest egg is safe).

Final thoughts on facing your fears

What fears do you have today? What dreams have you abandoned because the thought of chasing after them was too scary?

Take a few moments now to honestly ask yourself why you fear what you fear. Then ask yourself, "How can I move forward in spite of this fear? What steps can I take to protect myself while I pursue my goal?" Get creative, think outside the box, and seek the advice of people who truly want you to grow beyond the limitations of your fears.

Everywhere I look, I see countless opportunities available for aspiring investors and entrepreneurs, and you, yes YOU, deserve to capitalize on them. Remember, it’s OK to fail — as long as you fail forward. Take charge, today, by working on the three steps outlined above for overcoming fear or embracing fear (feel free to experiment with both and see which one works best for you — it might also depend on the situation) and see where it takes you over the next few months.

Original publish date: August 02, 2018