Your Blueprint to Courage - Releasing Fear & Doubt
It seems like so many of us have fear and doubt swirling in our heads about everything these days. We wake up, grab our phones, turn on the television, and it's all there bombarding us. The result? Increased fear and doubt, inaction, lack of motivation, and the list goes on and on. There really is no great mystery around it. If that is what is front and center in our world everyday, then it is what we think about. Now at this point I think I'm supposed to insert a link to some expert who has a lot of letters after their name as the one who solved the mystery. But I offer you me. Because I know what it's like to have fear and doubt run everything - To the point that I tried suicide as my ultimate antidote.
I also know what it's like to leave fear and doubt behind. The action steps from my personal journey make up this blueprint I've created for you. What credentials do I have? I'd like to tell you a short story...
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I, headed off to work. I was a United States Secret Service Agent in the New York Field Office, and I had trained and drilled and accepted that one day I may have to use everything I learned, including laying down my life for another. So when I found myself in the World Trade Center's Tower 1 when American Airlines flight 11 struck it, I responded as my training dictated. I calmly helped others make their escape to safety. When I finally reached my apartment later that day in New Jersey, no amount of training prepared me for what all of the sights, smells, and sounds of that day would create in my life. 4 little letters now reigned supreme - PTSD. And with it, came the nightmares, hyper-vigilance, anxiety, avoidance, depression, and addiction. This once very confident and capable person was now living in fear everyday trying to create a life that made sense. I doubted and second guessed every decision I made until it dominated me. I decided that my only way out was to take my own life. Luckily, I was unsuccessful. And with some hard work and learning, I made it back. I'm here now with the blueprint designed to show you how you can to leave fear and doubt behind.
The blueprint is designed as a road map with some stopping points along the way. I've included some key questions which I recommend writing down and taking the time to answer. Why? Because when we're in action, we leave fear behind. Our brains are wired this way. We simply can't do both at the same time. So what if today is the day you make the decision to start? What if you had a plan that helped get you into action so you could leave the fear behind? And what if you could use it daily? Well...Here you go:
Having courage is key to reaching your goals. And the great news is it does not take a whole lot to be courageous.
How do you define courage? Research has shown that the answer is different for everyone - so technically there’s no right answer. Dictionary.com defines courage as the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery. So courage could mean getting up in front of a room to deliver a speech. Others define courage as running into a burning building. How about bringing up a delicate conversation to your spouse or significant other? What about saying no when everyone figured you’d say yes because you always say yes? What about simply getting out of bed each morning? So it may be fair to say that courage is situational in nature. Did you notice the words "without fear" in the dictionary.com definition? Let's start there.
With fear, we have two choices. The first, to Forget Everything And Run. The second, to Face Everything And Rise. When we choose to face everything and rise - That’s where courage comes from. We know when we do it too. Because we feel it inside. Notice too, that we have chosen to do something. We've taken an action. Remember, when you are in action your brain cannot process fear at the same time. Therefore, we are courageous. YOU ARE COURAGEOUS! So let's now jump into some action. Below you will see 4 questions. You will want to write them down along with your answers in a notebook or journal so you can refer to them often at first and then from time to time as you become more proficient at using the blueprint.
Q1: What are you really great at? Write it down
Q2: What scares you most? It's okay to have a long list.
Q3: What are you trying to accomplish that you may not have the current skills and capabilities to do so?
Q4: Who are the people you need to reach out to or the resources you need to consult with to accomplish the things you wrote down?
---> Put the butterflies, the frustration and the worry aside and DECIDE that YOU have the confidence that you will figure this out. <---
Step 1: Ask for help based on Q4.
It’s okay to ask. And people want to help! The more you reach beyond your current capabilities the more you learn. The more you learn, the more confidence you’ll have. The more confidence, the more courage. The more courage, the less fear.
Step 2: Take notes.
Write down the suggestions you received from the people you asked for help. This will help keep you in action. And remember, action keeps fear away.
So now that you're on the path, questions answered, and into Steps 1 & 2, how do you keep the action going? One purposeful step at a time with...
When was the last time you set a goal and had the deadline sneak up on you or fly by? Probably often if you’re not disciplined. I can hear it now, “Oh Sam, I just let things flow and roll with them.” That’s super great if you want to allow your fears to run things. "Rolling with it" means things are running you, not the other way around. Remember, you have to set the action plan. Once in action things don't just pop up out of the blue and create anxiety. There's no fear, just your disciplined plan of action. I could have never gotten through my PTSD treatment if I was not purposeful and disciplined with my treatment plan. So let's decide right now to not roll with things. You are moving into the next part of your blueprint, leaving fear in the dust. And it's as easy as making a grocery list. Wait. What?
Think of it like this. When you go to the grocery store, most of the time you have a list. You probably made the list before you got to the store. You enter the store and with purpose you go aisle to aisle grabbing what’s on your list. You don’t get lost in the frozen foods section. You grab the green beans and go on to the next item. If you are disciplined enough to make a grocery list and then execute at the grocery store, then you are disciplined enough to set and fearlessly reach your goals. It's time now for some action steps:
Step 1: Identify your goal(s) and WRITE IT DOWN. It’s really difficult to work for something if you have not identified it. When you write something down, your brain and body are better connected to it. Use a dedicated goals journal or notebook.
Step 2: Put a completion date on the goal and record it! You cannot strategically work toward a goal and complete it without setting a date.
Step 3: Identify the key things that you need to do or learn to complete your goal. Usually it’s between 3 to 5 key action items depending on how big or important your goal is. For instance, if you want to learn how to create a website, you might talk to a few people who have experience with this. Based on the conversation, you might then look into website builders or consider doing it yourself. Then based on that, you might examine cost, etc. In this step, you are laying out the key things you need to do to complete your goal.
Step 4: Map your key action items and put a completion date on them. When you are doing this you may realize that learning some of your action items may take longer than you thought. You might have to adjust your main completion date. While I recommend you stick with your original date, it’s perfectly fine to do this if while mapping you realize there’s absolutely no way to meet that original date. If we go with the example of building a website. You may have 3 or 4 people to talk with. This is probably something you can do in a day or 2. So put it on the calendar. Then take the next key item and schedule that.
Step 5: Execute. Every single day work your plan. That’s the discipline. The best thing about these steps is it works for every area of your life. Mental, Physical, Social, Spiritual. You might actually surprise yourself at how much faster you are able to reach your goals and do it all without fear and without doubting yourself.
TIME OPTIMIZATION - The last item in your blueprint
Next, let's examine keeping the important things the important things. It is so easy to have time fly by and at the end of the day feel like you have not completed anything. Sometimes unexpected things come up which must be addressed. I’ve literally been in the middle of a consultation with someone when my son’s school called to have me come pick him up because he was sick. My client was very understanding being a parent herself. The point here is, that after you have the unexpected thing addressed and under control you return to your action steps - working on your goals. It might be the next day, because you are making chicken soup to cure what ails, but you return to them - Again, just follow the path.
This next suggestion is something I take very seriously and it's something I encourage you to do. Start each day (15-20 mins) looking at and thinking about your goals and the action steps on your calendar for the day. Let me repeat. Start your day in thought...No email, no social media. Email is a convenient storage box for other people’s agendas. You are not working other people’s agendas, you are working yours. And Social Media, as you scroll through your feed liking and commenting, before you know it an hour has flown by. By performing this important action first thing, you are training your brain to stay out of fear and doubt and in action.
The best part. There’s only 1 thing...
The 1 Thing: Grab a sheet of paper, your goals journal or notebook and across the top write your #1 goal, maybe you have 2 or 3 but I want to start with your #1 goal to lay the framework for you.
Then, under that goal write out the 3 things that you must do today which will move your forward toward completing that goal. Remember we are working with today only not all of the things that must occur for you to reach your goal. This is important so you do not get overwhelmed looking at everything. Overwhelm creates fear and we are focused on action, so concentrate on today.
Next, under the 3 things that will move your forward write out the people you must reach out to today. These people should be those you have to reach out to for help in completing your goal. Whether it’s by email or phone, these are the folks that are helping you move one step closer to your goal TODAY. Not a list of everyone who will be required in your project. You made that list when you mapped out your action steps to complete your goal.
Then, under the people you must reach out to TODAY, write out who you are waiting on. These are the people who you already reached out to and who are doing something for you, but who have yet to get back to you with what they said they would. Now here’s where checking email comes in. BUT, you will only search your inbox for those people. This is not a let’s check email session. That can be done anytime, and I encourage you to schedule that time each day, so you’re focused for a set period of time and then you’re done. I only check my email at 12noon and 4pm daily. Now, if your job requires you to be on email most of the day, this strategy still works, because you usually know what emails your are waiting on so you can still search your inbox for them. Another strategy, and one I use, is to ask people to send you a text if they have sent an important email for you to read. I explain that I only check my email two times a day so they are not left wondering if I received their email. Please, do not check your email right now.
The last things you will want to write down are the 3 things that you MUST do today no matter what. Again, these things are those which are moving you forward to completing your #1 goal.
Finally, read over the sheet you just created and make any corrections.
So there you have it. Your blueprint to courage. You are ready to say goodbye to fear & doubt because you have a plan and you know that all it takes is staying in action. Now, get to work! And it’s ok to check your email now. SMILE!