You have probably heard me say that this is my mantra for 2020. I wanted to explore it a little bit this month, as September feels like the New Year and whilst that is exciting it is also nerve-wracking, as fresh starts often are.
We have made it this far – we have got to the new school year, and whether or not you have children that has an impact on everybody. Childcare is still a huge issue in this pandemic, but schools re-opening means more of us can get back to focusing on our businesses and things can get moving a little bit more.
Which feels fantastic to me, but whenever there is opportunity for growth there is also fear. I manage anxiety as a medical condition, but even for those of us who don’t have a diagnosed mental health challenge, feeling anxious and overwhelmed is a normal part of running a business, and a normal part of life. We have these fantastic ideas, these long terms plans, these goals we want to reach but then there is the little voice: “what if it all goes wrong?”
I used to think that there would be a time when I no longer had that voice. That somehow I would get to a stage where I felt confident all the time, on top of everything, in my stride and able to just get on with what I wanted to be doing. I now know that is not how it is going to be. My unconscious mind is always going to be scared of change. It is always going to hate the vulnerability that comes with trying something new, or putting myself out there. That comes with standing up and saying “I am capable of doing this”. Brene Brown talks at length about the vulnerability of stepping into the arena, of saying “here I am and this is what I can do”. We can manage that feeling, but it is never going to go away.
Imposter syndrome is something many of us encounter and you can read more here about why I think we all deserve to be confident in our chosen career. What I have promised myself is this: fear is never going to hold me back. My solution has been to separate out the anxiety from the goals. I see my anxiety as a big bag that I am pulling along behind me, some days it is heavy other days it is light, but it is never going to stop me from walking the path to where I want to be.
So how can we keep our anxiety separate? By seeing it for what it is. By first recognising what is not serving us. If you think to yourself “I don’t know as much about this topic as I would like, maybe I will look into some training” that is a sensible way to improve your skills. If you think to yourself “I don’t know as much about this topic as other people, I should shut my mouth and never talk about it ever again” that is unhelpful anxiety. We deal with that separately, but we do not let it stop us from learning and growing and achieving.
How do we manage it separately? This is how: put it aside and book the training course. Sign up for the networking event. Say yes to the meeting. Agree to the phone call. Get that done, if it is going to get you further towards your goals. Then when that is done, and you are on the path to where you want to be, it is time to look after your unconscious mind. Get yourself feeling safe. Hot drink, warm blanket, scented candle, feed your senses. Give your mind and body every comfort it desires. Treat yourself with excessive kindness, and never be angry with yourself for having fears. It is normal, it is understandable, and they will be coming from past experiences and long-held beliefs. Do whatever you need to do to make yourself feel better, and don’t begrudge yourself that kindness. Go for a long walk. Have a luxurious bath. Sing along to loud music. Go for a drive. Dance around the kitchen. Whatever it takes to make yourself feel calm.
For some of us this will involve more than a snuggle with a cuppa. This could involve getting some counselling or therapy. Talking to a friend. Booking some coaching. Taking the step to really dig into where these fears are coming from and finding ways to tackle them long term.
No matter how you deal with the fears, the crucial thing is that you have already booked the course, signed up for the thing, agreed to the meet up, said yes to the opportunity. You have done it anyway. The fear is a separate beast to be tamed. It is real and it needs to be handled. But it is not allowed a say in your choices. It is not allowed to stop you from reaching your goals. It is not in the driving seat. It can be an annoying passenger and some days it will be in charge of the radio and will be irritating you to death. But never is the fear allowed to drive.
What is the next step that you need to take to get to where you want to be? Are you feeling that fear? Do it anyway. Do it today. Then manage the fear, once you are already on the path. The fear isn’t going to go anywhere, you will always have a bag of anxiety, sometimes big, sometimes small. It can be managed, and there are lots of ways of doing that. Just promise me you will feel the fear and do it anyway.
Helen Calvert, September 2020