Fear and Planning vs Doing


After reading my overplanning post, a reader said, "Yikes.  Pretty sure this article has my name on it.  Your second paragraph hit the nail on the head:  " …planning is not as risky as actually doing and then getting judged for what you do. I’ve begun to suspect this is a big part of my challenge with tasks, planning and procrastination.  I’d love to see a future post helping to deal with that component.  How do we overcome the fears associated with doing something (and potentially doing it wrong or doing the wrong thing, or even just having someone disagree with what you did)?"

I cover this in my procrastination ecourse. Here is part of that lesson.

"What you are afraid to do is a clear indication of the next thing you need to do." – Ralph Waldo Emerson

A major result of fear is procrastination. You tell yourself you just don’t have time, you don’t feel like doing it, it’s no fun, but if you look deep down inside you know it’s because you are scared.

I know all about fear. I am extremely scared heights though I’ve hiked mountains, stood at the top of Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon (not too near the edge) , ridden a horse in the Rocky Mountains, climbed the chimney tops at the Smoky Mountains, climbed up and down rickety ladders at Mesa Verde and have flown in airplanes. I don’t even really like stairs or escalators. And I still get scared of anything over five flights of stairs. I learned to drive at 27, after years of being afraid of driving. I get scared at horror films, with most bugs, and large groups of people.

I was so proud of my daughter the other day. She said she was talking to her friend about being in a play she was in. Her friend said she was too scared. And then my daughter looked at me and said, "I told her just what you tell me Mom. It’s o.k. to be scared. I’m scared too. But, that doesn’t mean we don’t do it."

What are you afraid of?

Being judged
The unknown
Making the wrong choice

Getting Over the Fear

If fear is what is stopping you, you need to change your mind set. Ask yourself if the fear is really a rational fear – something likely to happen. If it is maybe you need to think about some safeguards. Do some planning and preparation. You may have to see whether it is worth it or not.

If your fear is irrational and not likely to happen, push through. Tell yourself it’s all right to be scared, but it’s not all right to let that stop you.

If you are scared to move forward in your dream, realize this is normal. Most of us feel fear as we reach out of our comfort zone. You might have to take tinier steps. You might need some accountability. Keep picturing the outcome you want. You might need a partner or to take action with a friend. You might need to remind yourself that it is alright to be imperfect and human. Everyone is.

You can also remind yourself of similar things you did successfully. Get back into that positive mind frame.

1. What are five things you are putting off because of fear?


2. Name the fear that is holding you back in each one. Be very specific.

3. Decide on a small step to take for one of them.

Bonus: Complete one of the things you are putting off because of fear. It might be helpful to "bookend," for accountability. E-mail or call someone to say what you are going to do. Do it. Then call or e-mail back when you have accomplished the deed. That extra push may help you get through the fear.


1 Comment

  • Arthur says:

    Susan Jeffers has died recently, but her first book, published in 1987 “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway” is one of my favourites

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