How much has fear ruled your life?
Where would you be now if you had lived more fearlessly? Where would you have gone, whom would you have loved, what would you be doing with your One Beautiful Life?
I’ll tell you where I would be.
I’d be right here. But I would have been “right here” ten years ago. (For more about my decade of self-imposed purgatory, check out my about page.)
When I first said out loud that I wanted to help other women move past fear and create personal legacies and Big Dreams, I was just barely in my thirties.
I waited so long to take action on my dream I actually had to “age up” my demographic, and that’s why we are a Mid-Life Reinvention site rather than a Young Mother reinvention site.
In the weeks since we’ve been together, many many of you have shared with me that you have allowed similar fears to hold you back. Thankfully, though, the glory of this time in our lives, seems to be that we are sick and tired of being sick and tired.
In fact, we’re so sick and tired of it, we hardly even care about our fear anymore.
Or do we?
Here at Life After Tampons our PRIMARY purpose is to IMPLEMENT the answer to this question, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”
My experience is, and hundreds of you have confirmed it, that most of us, if we’re really being honest with ourselves, KNOW what the next part of our journey should look like. In fact, like me, many of you have known for some time what you want to do with your lives.
We know. But we don’t DO.
And years go by and dreams don’t happen and regrets set in and blah and blah, blah blahblahblah.
Here’s the thing, Sweet Cheeks – there just isn’t TIME anymore for stepping back from our own dreams. Truly, truly.
Our own mortality is the HARD STOP that crystallizes what is most important to us and empowers us to act. Now.
We need to be less afraid of DYING and more concerned with NEVER LIVING!
And so, I called in some experts. And I asked them to answer this one question:
“With respect to your Big Dream, what allows you
to put fear aside and just GO FOR IT?”
In the space below, you will hear from twenty-one ENTIRELY new Wisdom Circle members who have all found a way to move past their fears and create game changing projects and legacies that, by extension, have helped tens of thousands of others.
You will meet artists, radio show hosts, best-selling authors, dating experts, coaches, teachers, professional vagabonds, internet experts, and even a horse whisperer or two. I am particularly excited to welcome a couple of LAT readers to this post as well.
And while it’s a little unusual, for the first time ever, I have invited two men to weigh in about moving past fear. You will meet Corbett Barr, the internet expert who was instrumental in the launch of this site and also Scott Dinsmore, creator of the wildly successful website, Live Your Legend. When you see some of Scott’s work about personal legend and legacy, you’ll see why he’s here.
This is a deliciously thorough piece, so I recommend you take your time and really savor each little story of wisdom. You may even want to bookmark it so you can come back to it again and again as you find yourself getting “stuck” in your own life.
Please Don’t Forget that you’re part of the Wisdom Circle, too.
In school, I always felt like I was “Last Picked for Basketball.”
Therefore, LAT will NEVER be an elite space for just the “popular girls.” I’m sick of them, anyway. (Oh, wait, we’re those girls now.) Okay, whatever.
We are a community of women helping each other. And so we welcome – nigh even slightly sort of insist – that you share your own stories of triumph over fear with us in the Wisdom Circle comments section after the piece.
One Last THING —
The Wisdom Circle is NO GOOD — in fact it is POINTLESS — unless it is shared with others who need the counsel. I IMPLORE you to share this post with your own TRIBE. (We do this nowadays via social media.)
When you share our wisdom – our hard-won experience — our sorrows and triumphs — our lives, YOUR LIFE, bears fruit. And, in this way, we give meaning to our losses and a small glimmer of immortality to each of our sisters.
Please welcome these Wisdom Circle members: Angela Artemis, Anne-Marie Kovacs, C.A. Kobu, Caley Phillips, Caron Gonthier, Christine Marmoy, Corbett Barr, Elaine Leibsohn, Emily Couch, Erin Falconer, Jane London, Jennifer Louden, Girls Gone Moto, Scott Dinsmore, Kate Britt, Koelle Simpson, Lela Davidson, Lynne Spreen, Nancy Wurtzel, Nell Merlino, Staness Jonekos.
Angela Artemis, Creator, Powered by Intuition
I struggled for years with my writing. I dreamed of writing novels. I published articles but, couldn’t get myself to finish any of the books I began. Years of writer’s groups, classes and workshops did nothing other than feed my fears that I would never ever finish a book.
It was only when I found my voice as a non-fiction writer that I overcame my fears and actually wrote a book. Now, I cannot stop writing. The fear that held me back was my own limiting belief that I had to be a novelist. When I let go of that belief my writing began pouring out of me.
Before you can “just go for it” you have to find your authenticity. When you find out who you really are – the path you were meant to travel in this life will simply open up right before you.
Anne-Marie Kovacs, BOOMBox Network
I so wish that I understood then what I understand now. But that’s all part of our journey, isn’t it? And there should be no regrets and only intentions for self-improvement. Like in being shy. That’s a trait that I hid behind for a number of years. I would justify to myself not doing many things because I was too shy. And what is driven by fear if not shyness? Rejection, mockery, approval seeking…What ifs…
It’s only in the last few years that I have finally learned to let go of the shyness. Actually, it was not so much “learned to” as “pushed to” move beyond it. I had to decide to put the shyness aside because I had no choice if I was to grow my business and my brand. And what a wonderful gift. Shyness is one of the biggest ball and chains that anyone can put on their own personal journey. Because the gifts are so rich on the other side. I have made more friends, met more business acquaintances and had more fun in this new stage of “no shyness permitted.” It’s been enriching and gratifying. And no one got hurt. Not even me.
C.A. Kobu, Wake Up and Flourish
I don’t move past my fear. I take it along with me as I take a step forth and start making progress. For me, fear equals an opportunity for growth. It’s a beacon or perhaps a signpost that shows me the direction I should follow. So I let it lead me. I’ve learned through first-hand experience that when I do things in spite of my fear and imperfection, great things happen. Fear is a given if you’re stepping out there to do extraordinary stuff and birth your Great Work. So it’s more rewarding to acknowledge and learn from your fear than try to eliminate or other it.
Caley Phillips, Savvy Self-Esteem
I’ve learned to look forward to the fear. Sounds a little backwards, I know, but stick with me here. Fear is actually our body’s way of loving us. Our body uses fear to alert us of potential danger in an effort to keep us safe, both physically and emotionally. It’s sort of like having our very own watch guard saying, “Hey, did ya see that iceberg?!” Whether we’re trying to do something new, or we fancy something special (like our Big Dream), fear, or our personal watch guard, will inevitably show up to point out any “icebergs” we may encounter. Fear does not show up because what we are seeking is dangerous, but because the act of moving out of our comfort zone, into something new, puts our watch guards on high alert.
When we approach fear from this viewpoint, fear loses all power over us, as fear then becomes our mile marker, or a way of detecting if we’ve pushed ourselves to new places. No fear means, no movement, no risk of loss, and no new terrain. So, as I go after my “Big Dream” I celebrate the moments I feel fear, I listen to what they are saying to me, and I look to them as a compass that I’m on the right track.
Caron Gonthier, Artist and educator.
Just do it! Action alleviates fear and helps me to feel better about myself. I was scared to death the first time I taught a college class, but I got through it and I felt pretty good about myself for having done so. Preparation also helps to quell fear. I feel productive when I am in the process of making my art. I feel good when I am actively involved in my student’s and my son’s education. I feel good when I can conquer new learning curves.
Fear has been something I’ve explored on several occasions in my art. For example, a piece that I titled Yirah is about the Jewish concepts of fear. Pachad is irrational fear. The fear of flying, for example. Yirah, on the other hand is the fear that you feel when faced with something grand that is bigger than yourself that puts you in a state of awe – the birth of a child, for example.
Christine Marmoy, Coaching and Success
Fear can be your ally or your enemy. I chose to make it my friend. Fears are messengers. They usually announce that something different is about to come into my life. With fears come challenges and with challenges come growth. Fears on the ‘enemy’ side are irrational and because of that they tend to paralyze you. Color your fears with rationality. When my fears go the wrong way (enemy) I go there with them. I imagine the worst case scenario, what if…..nothing turns out the way I want it to? Guess what, before I get to the end of my ‘trip’, I realize that nothing is going to happen to me, I’m still going to be here, doing what I like. If you let your fears stop you….you’ll fear the fears and at the end, you’ll prove them right. In other words, you’ll make sure you don’t achieve your dream. Acknowledge them, hear them out, make them part of the process, then thank them for being in your heart to protect you and get on with your dream….you’ll be stronger each time you get to the other side.
Corbett Barr, Think Traffic
My big secret for pursuing Big Dreams is 1) to put things in perspective and 2) to ask “what’s the worst that could happen.”
Putting things in perspective means acknowledging that what you’re trying might seem big to you, but probably isn’t an extreme test of human limits or potential. Other people have always done crazier, braver things, so why should you be afraid of this simple little thing?
Asking yourself “what’s the worst that could happen” helps to quantify your fears. Usually that question helps you realize that there isn’t much downside to chasing your dreams besides a loss of comfort.
Elaine Leibsohn, Strategic Communications, Makes Things Happen
In my 41 years on the planet… I’ve realized more lately than ever… that faith, family and friends are the most important things.
Nothing else really matters.
Having someone love you when you’re scared is the the greatest gift. Things can’t hug you…or tell you it’s going to be ok.
The more life I live the less I find I need. Knowing that a g-d of my understanding is in charge brings me great comfort. All I have to do is the next right thing. And listen to my body.
Big dreams require big risk. If your dreams don’t scare the crap out of you then you need to reassess. Moving out of a space of fear can prove to be a challenge but I always reflect on what my mother expressed to me in regards to being afraid “Put on your big girl panties and deal with it. If you fail, you fail…but you’ll never know how amazing you can be until you try.” Her voice resonates in my brain when I let my fear take over. There is no proven way to release your fear; you just have to jump in headfirst. It’s sink or swim, beautiful. Just do it.
Erin Falconer, Editor in Chief, Pick the Brain
Wishing for dreams to come true is not enough. Simply put: you have to do the work. The bigger the dream, the more the work. Just when you think you’ve done enough, do a little more. The problem with the term ‘dream’ – is that it’s esoteric and hard to quantify. It’s your job to break that dream down into incremental, reality sized bites and then exercise against them. The second part of the success equation is taking action. Once you’ve done the work you must trust in it and yourself and take the leap. Taking action is the only way to procure success. Initially, it may be daunting, but ultimately it’s, well…dreamy.
Jane London, Radio Host and Writer, Present Tense
I actually have a necklace that says “fearless” . It represents my personal commitment to fearless, brutal introspection and honesty. It also reminds me that failure is always an option.
I’m a recovering alcoholic and a successful morning radio host. I attribute my professional success to my willingness to speak and react honestly, even when admitting to some fairly painful mistakes and faults. Those failures taught me humility and grace.
Quite honestly, I think that fear is a healthy motivator for many of us. Fear of losing our life, health, loved ones, assets, friends, etc. keeps us awake. There is a yin/yang to our lives that keeps us on the rails and grounded.
Without failure, there is no glory, no growth, no empowerment. It’s like youth soccer; everyone gets a trophy for just showing up.
The thrill of walking a tightrope is partly due to the tension of knowning what lies in failure. And that reminds us what it means to be human; we are frail and fleeting creatures.
Jennifer Louden, Best-Selling Author, Woman’s Comfort Books
By lowering the bar. My biggest issue with “Big Dreams” is the big part. As in biting off more dream than I could ever chew. When you think about it, chewing is a human activity. Dreams are unlimited and don’t obey the laws of bodies with their pesky need for sleep and yoga and cuddling one’s beloved. My fear highjacks me when I dream BIG because whatever I am dreaming immediately becomes unachievable (i.e. inflated, inhuman, no inhale) and that then becomes the story “I am a big failure and need to retire ASAP because I can’t do it.” It might sound paradoxical but maintaing a very chop wood, carry water approach to my days, and reigning in my galloping Big Dreams, keeps me out of fear and in action.
I’m wary of BIG dreams. I use them to light the way but try not to let them blind me.
Sally and Natalie, Girls Gone Moto
We love this question because fear is usually the only thing that does stop us from getting what we want. I think the tendency is for people to want to be “fearless” or have no fears in order to take the big leap towards something exciting. But we see it differently. Fear is always there, no matter what. It’s a fact of life. And so we like to use our fear as a barometer of what’s most important to us. If it doesn’t scare us, it’s not a big enough dream. If it scares the shit out of us…it must be what we should be doing.
And when you’re at that point of being afraid, I think the most important thing you can do is decide. Make a commitment to do whatever it is you want and then put some plans in place so that you can’t back out. Buy the ticket. Plan the trip. But more than any of this, though, is that you MUST value your big, bright, fulfilling life more than you value your comfort zone (because going for your dreams will most definitely push you out of your comfort zone). It must be more important to you to have and be all that you want, then to be where you are now. If you don’t have that commitment to yourself, you will let fear take over, and it’ll be too easy to turn back and go home.
Scott Dinsmore, Live Your Legend
The most effective way to start doing things you didn’t think you can do is to start hanging around people who are already doing them. I call it brainwashing the impossible. People fear going after their big dreams usually because they don’t know if they’ll be able to do it. They don’t know if it’s possible for them. Well if suddenly everyone around you is doing it, it all of a sudden seems not only possible but likely. That’s when your world starts to change. It all starts with your environment. Surround yourself with passionate people living their dreams and you will soon be doing the same. That’s where the magic is.
Kate Britt, Artist. Craftsperson. Writer.
When I look back on parts of my life, I wonder how I had the courage to make certain big decisions and big changes. Each one came from a strength I did not know I had prior to using it.
I was 37 when I made my biggest decision and life change. I remember being in a state of mind and heart wherein I was able to completely trust the voice of my Higher Self (HS). Some people call that voice impulse or instinct. HS speaks with a deep, personal wisdom that comes out of my own history, experience, learning, self-knowledge, hopes, goals, and dreams.
Then the other voice arises, the one who thinks she can predict all the what-ifs, the consequences, the future that will unfold if I follow the voice of my HS. She’s my Voice of Fear (VF). I used to resist VF or think of myself as a lesser person for listening to her. What I know now is that it’s OK to feel fear; it’s a normal human emotion, a natural part of who I am. VF helps with my big decisions by causing internal debate.
To trust my HS as guide in my big decisions involves much time meditating, talking, reading, journal writing, internally hosting the debates between HS and VF. I honor both HS and VF as equal partners in creating change.
In the end, my HS always asks the most relevant question: “When you’re 85, will you look back on this and wish you’d done it?” An honest answer to this question has always provided me with the courage to override my VF.
Koelle Simpson, Life Coach and Horse Whisperer
It took some time to realize the extraordinary gifts that come with perceived failures. As a culture we place a high value on the student who nails a test or the individual who manages a flawless life. Yet, the richness of learning and evolvement is born out of our deepest struggles. When things aren’t turning out the way I planned, I begin by asking, “How is this outcome truly perfect?” “What is this trying to teach me that will help me achieve my dream?”
The path was never meant to be a straight line to your final destination. Celebrate the struggles and know that the world is dancing with you in a game of “You’re getting warmer or you’re getting colder.” Both responses are equally important when learning how to create your wildest dreams.
Lela Davidson, Author, Blacklisted from the PTA
I’m a go-for-it girl from way back. (Just ask my high school boyfriends.) That said, any loser with a laptop and a Starbucks gift card can call herself a writer. When Fear gets in my way, I first try to be polite. I’m all, “Excuse me, Fear, may I pass?” I smile cute and nod over at my spiral notebook. If that doesn’t work I throw elbows. But I’m petite, so if the Fear is really big, I have to bulk up on fried brie and pizza first.
Lynne Spreen, Creator, Any Shiny Thing
How do I deal with fear and just go for it? Well, by this vibrant age of 57, I have finally learned to stop assuming that everybody’s more talented, more qualified, and in some critical way BETTER than me. I don’t think about the brilliant people any more – too daunting. I throw my hat in the ring and give it everything I’ve got.
Tim Ferriss confirms my strategy. In his book, The 4-Hour Workweek, he reports that when presented with an opportunity to earn an incredible prize, most of his students declined to even try! (It required them to do something that was a little brash but no big deal, really). They were smart college kids, but they assumed a more clever person would solve the challenge awesomely. But guess what? Nobody awesome stepped forward, and so the winner turned in a mediocre effort and won anyway. Ferriss then provides further confirmation that winners usually succeed because they don’t wallow in fear – they just simply damn TRY.
So now I try. Even if I fail, I usually come away with something valuable that enhances further efforts. I’ve also stopped being so afraid. What a fabulous feeling!
Nancy Wurtzel, Creator, Dating Dementia
For decades, I spent so much time and energy thinking about making big life changes, but sadly all I did was think. I never took action. There was always an excuse that would hold me back. Then, about a year ago, I became an empty nester when my daughter moved 3,000 miles away to attend college on the East Coast. She knew no one at her large university, yet she had so much courage and conviction. She made me realize that I was living within a very small safety zone. My choices were limiting my life. If my daughter could plunge into the vast unknown, then I could as well. Now, whenever I make choices I think of my role model – my daughter – and I push myself to grasp all that life has to offer.
Nell Merlino, Creator, “Take Our Daughters to Work Day”
I consider the alternative to not going for my Big Dream and ground myself knowing that fear is not a fact it is a feeling. I think about stifling my creativity, not being authentic and decide instead to “go for it”.
Staness Jonekos, Menopause Makeover
When I crossed the bridge to post menopause, I left behind what others thought of me. Every day new miracles appear!
Okay, love. Now it’s your turn. Please share with us your answer —
With respect to your Big Dream, what allows you to put fear aside and just GO FOR IT?”
Photo: Flickr, dominicspics