Help! I’m Afraid of Failure, But I Want an Exciting Life!

You’ve got all the ideas, but instead of getting out there and putting them into action, you are stuck at your nine-to-five job that pays the bills. You spend your days dreaming about what life could be like—if only you weren’t terrified of failing. If this is you, I’ve got good news: having an exciting life doesn’t mean you have to quit your job, sell all your stuff, and pack up to start travelling the world today. A few small steps can move your daily daydream out of the dream world and into reality.

First: make a dream list. If you could do anything in the world, what would it be? Don’t think about practicality here, just write down all the ideas that come to mind. Have you always wanted to be an artist? A Rockette? A scuba diver? No idea is too crazy to write down—this is a dream list, so let yourself dream big. Don’t worry about constraints like money, time, or responsibilities. Just write down everything that sounds interesting to you. 

Hold onto your list for a week or two. Read through your list a few different times. Set aside thirty minutes dedicated to daydreaming or journaling about your list. Once you’ve spent some time thinking about these dreams, identify the one thing that keeps floating to the surface, an idea you just can’t get out of your mind.

Next, talk through that idea. A coaching session would be a great place to do this. You could also ask a supportive friend to meet you for coffee to talk this over—or even have a coffee date with yourself and your journal. However you choose to do it, answer the following four questions:

  1. What is the thing I really want?
  2. What am I most scared of? 
  3. What’s the worst thing that can happen?
  4. What’s a small change I can make to turn that dream into a reality?

Here are two examples of what answering these questions might look like: 

  • I want to be an artist. I’m terrified my friends will laugh at me and I won’t be any good. The worst thing that can happen is I find out I’m not great—but I could take art classes to get better. If my friends laugh, maybe they weren’t that great of friends to begin with. I can’t quit my job today to pursue art full time, but I can take a class at the community center or buy some watercolors and find a YouTube tutorial.
  • I always wanted to be a Rockette. That’s the thing I dreamed of as a little girl. I really love to dance, but I gave it up because I was scared I would never be good enough to “make it.” Now I’m well past the window where I could have auditioned and given it a shot… but that doesn’t mean I can’t dance anymore. What if I signed up for a dance class at a local studio? It’s been twenty years since my last class and I’m out of shape. I don’t know if I’d be able to keep up. But… I could probably find a low-key class with other people who just want to dance for fun. Maybe it would help me get back in shape, maybe I’d meet a few friends. If I hate it, I don’t have to go back. And no, I wouldn’t be able to go audition for the Rockettes—but maybe I could audition for a local theater performance if I really want to be on stage. 

Once you’ve answered these questions, pick one step to take towards your dream. Write it down with a deadline or ask a friend to hold you accountable. Then celebrate when you buy the watercolors or sign up for the dance class. You are making progress on having a more exciting life! 

Finally, work on flipping your mindset. You can learn from failure. It doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to achieve your dream—it just means you have more work to do. Failure is part of the journey. The more you fail, the better you’ll get at it, and the easier it will be to pick yourself up and keep moving.  

Keep your list—once you’ve made a little progress on the first item, you might be ready to start working towards another!

An exciting life means spending time on the things you love. Taking those first steps towards your dreams can make you see everything else in your life in a new light—no packing or plane tickets required.

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