Friday, November 4, 2011

Step 4 - Feel the Fear and do it Anyway!

SkydivingDay 4 of the National Blog Post Month challenge where I’m writing a blog post every day along the theme of 30 Steps to Happiness and Contentment.

It must be 20 years since I read the book "Feel the Fear and do it Anyway" by Susan Jeffers and whilst I can't remember exactly what it said now (I must order another copy), I know it had an enormous impact on me at the time.

When I was young I was painfully shy and lacking in confidence.  I never put my hand up in school, the thought of standing up and talking in front of the class made me physically sick. These were in the days before 'Show and tell' became popular.  In the playground I was fine - I had lots of friends and no problems socially, just in the classroom and in any formal situations.  I spent my entire school life like this - always avoiding situations I found uncomfortable wherever possible.  My Divinty teacher (I think they call it Religious Studies these days) summed me up in his comment on my 3rd form school report "Nicola listens without participating".  Yes, that was me!

At 16 I had the choice of staying on for A levels and then University or doing a more practical course at college.  I was so lacking in confidence that I didn't think I'd even pass any O levels and felt I wasn't clever enough to stay on to the 6th form with all my friends.  I chose to leave and do a secretarial course.  I vividly remember the day my O level results came through the door.  I ran upstairs and locked myself in the loo - preparing myself for the worst.  When I opened the envelope and discovered Id passed all 8, no one was more surprised than me!

I went to college to do a Private Secretaries Certificate and the skills I learnt have been really useful, so I don't regret it.  But I can now acknowledge that it was the fear of failure that stopped me from continuing into Higher Education at that time

Gradually I started to get more confident, but I still found that my fears stopped me doing many things.  Reading the book "Feel the Fear and do it Anyway" at about the age of 23 was a turning point for me.  It made me realise that everyone feels a certain amount of fear in new situations, the trick is to harness this fear and not let it stop you from doing anything you want to do.

I started applying the principles from the book in my life and a few years later I decided I wanted to share my computing knowledge and skills and become an IT trainer.  I signed up to do a part-time 2 year Certificate in Education at University. The biggest fear I had to conquer was standing up in front of a classroom of students and talk. I was terrified at first - this was the girl that never answered a question in class and would never volunteer to speak about anything!  My first lesson wasn't  as bad as I thought it would be (in fact it went quite well) and the sense of achievement after was fantastic.  I grew to love it and went on to teach in adult education and student support.

It's important to realise that we are not alone, everyone feels fear of new situations to some degree, even the people who come across as the most confident.  What we have to realise is that once we work through this fear and do whatever it is we want to do, the fear of doing something is much worse than the actual doing.  We may have felt anxious before, but once we get there it's fine and afterwards the feeling of achievement when we've faced a fear and overcome it is incredibly rewarding.

So next time you feel anxious about doing something, don't let your insecurities hold you back - feel the fear and do it anyway - you'll be glad you did!

Here's my other posts so far in this series:

Step 30 - The Key to Happiness and Contentment
Step 29 -You are the master of your own destiny
Step 28 - Don't give up on a good relationship
Step 27 - Don't Judge , Live and let live
Step 26 - Don't Worry, by happy
Step 25 - Never give up
Step 24 - Get by with a little help from your friends
Step 23 - Go with the Flow
Step 22 - Enjoy the moment
Step 21 - Love what you do
Step 20 - Forgive and Forget
Step 19 - Unconditional giving
Step 18 - Smile and the world smiles with you
Step 17 - Work to live, don't live to work
Step 16 - Surround yourself with Positive People
Step 15 - Always look on the bright side of life
Step 14 - Where there's a will there's a way
Step 13 - Silence is Golden
Step 12 - Feed your Soul
Step 11 - Follow your Dreams
Step 10 - Use your time wisely
Step 9 - Don't be too hard on yourself
Step 8 - Consider what you value most
Step 7 - Find time for Yourself
Step 6 - Make time for Family and Friends
Step 5 - Don't take yourself too Seriously
Step 4 - Feel the Fear and do it Anyway
Step 3 - Love what you Hate
Step 2 - There's no such word as CAN''T
Step 1 - Find the Best in Every Day


  1. Well done you for facing your fears - most things aren't as bad as we imagine them to be but the fear often stops us from finding that out.

  2. how brilliant is that changing tack and doing something completely new - Ive done something similar and its been life changing - brilliant post I LOVED it

  3. Love the idea of 30 posts about finding happiness! Will stop by again to see the next installment. Polly

  4. These posts are brilliantly timed for me. I too read that book years ago and although I can't remember anything from it I still often say 'Feel the fear and do it anyway' I haven't got round to commenting on your earlier posts but I've been trying to 'love what I hate' in my new job (making sales calls and not knowing if the person will speak English) so thank you!

  5. Thank you all so much for your lovely comments. It's so nice to know that my blogs are striking a chord with you.

    @Emma - I really hope the 'love what you hate' theory works on those sales calls - good luck!

  6. Great post Nikki - Fear is really useful, but we trust in it way too much and I we indoctrinated with unrealistic fear in so many ways by society and the media..... sometimes fear is not helpful at all.

  7. love this post - so true and very much resonates with me - I was very under confident for along time - I read loads of self-help books.
    It was incredibly empowering to give them all to the charity shop last year when I realised, I hadn't looked at them in a long time and really didn't need them anymore. Life is what you make you - some times it's taking a deep breathe and going for it.

  8. "the fear of doing something is much worse than the actual doing"

    Well said. I have this book on my shelf where it's got probably close to an inch of dust on it! I bought a very long time ago, read the first couple of chapters and put it away. Reading your post makes me want to pull it down and dust it off and see what it has to say
    I found your blog through NaBloPoMo at BlogHer.

  9. Thanks Michael, hope you get chance to read the book now - it made all the difference to me. I'm going to have to order another copy just so I can refresh my memory.