How to overcome fear, doubts and barriers

Last month I flew to Georgia to speak at Clark Atlanta University. Over the course of a weekend, I delivered a career development workshop for a group of 100 female students and their professional mentors. The focus of the session was how to overcome fear, doubts and barriers that are standing between you and your dream career.

The students had already been tasked with creating vision boards as part of the retreat and I wanted to help close the gap between their vision and reality. Sometimes the process of creating a vision board is scary. It pushes you from secretly and occasionally daring to dream big, to literally laying your aspirations out in front of you. With nowhere to hide.

I firmly believe vision boarding is a powerful and important exercise. But what do you do after you’ve laid out your vision, if you’re uncertain of how to make it all happen?

The first time I created a vision board I was too terrified to look at it again for a very long time. It all just seemed so monumental. I had compiled what I wanted, but I didn’t have a clue about what to do next.

How do you move towards what you really, truly want when you feel stuck in your current reality?

During my workshop I shared an exercise that I love to use when my coaching clients are stuck. It was developed by Dr Stephen Covey and it centers on creating a Circle of Influence versus a Circle of Concern. This concept was included in Dr Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, but I used it for the first time about a decade ago, after reading about it in Michael Heppell’s How to Be Brilliant.

Circles of Concern contain all the things we worry about. In contrast, Circles of Influence contain everything we have the power to affect or transform.

In a nutshell, the exercise encourages you to create a Power Circle. This is where you should pour all your energy.

During my workshop I handed out sheets of paper and I asked the students to write down all the things holding them back from their goals in an outer circle. They could write down anything and everything, from negative things other people say, thoughts in their own minds to challenges they are facing.

If you want to live your vision board life, it’s time to switch gears. Focusing on the things that are holding you back will make those things remain real and present.

Instead zero in. Thing about your biggest fear or your biggest barrier. The scariest one of all. Write it down.

Then think about what you can do to break this fear down, bit by bit. Get specific. Give it tons of thought.

Then start to give yourself action items to tackle it.

This last part will feel immense at first. Don’t put pressure on yourself to have all the answers immediately. You won’t. But, starting the process of thinking through avenues to explore, people to talk to you, podcasts to listen to, books to read and actions to commit to will get the ball rolling.

Creating a strategy to keep yourself accountable will really help to keep you on track. Maybe you choose to tag team with a friend, where you each share a goal you’re working on, and give each other encouragement along the way. Perhaps you journal about your process. Maybe you work with a career coach. Or, perhaps you create a whole new system and schedule time on your calendar to act. Whatever works for you, do it. Continual focused action is key.

Remember though, none of us are immune to experiencing fear and doubt when it comes to our career. That’s part of the course. In fact, that fear part is the evidence that your goal is super important to you. It’s okay for that to feel terrifying. But don’t let the fear make you freeze. Recognize it, brainstorm around it and keep on pushing through it to get where you’re meant to be.

And, if you need a bit of help along the way, you can always email me.


Post by Octavia Goredema
Octavia Goredema is an award-winning career coach, writer and the founder of Twenty Ten Talent. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or over on Twitter.

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