Quicksand: Overcome Your Fears, Move Toward Your Goals

“Quicksand’s a scary mother, man…” – Clifford Franklin

Fear is incredibly powerful. Coupled with anxiety, fear can easily grow and expand, beyond reality, to a place where it can overwhelm you – one small issue can become a bad day, or a bad week, or an extended funk. And this can prevent you from moving forward and reaching your goals.

So how do you get beyond your fears? Here are a few tips that I’ve found helpful:

1) Name your fears

“Now our fear is shared, and we can overcome it together.” You have to name your fears, list them, even share them with your trusted friends if you can. If you shine a light on your fears and define them, if you stop to pause and assess the situation objectively, you may find the problem isn’t as great as you thought, and can be overcome.

2) Compartmentalize

Imagination is a wonderful thing, but can work against you – imagination can make problems seem bigger, and can build false connections that make fears difficult to dispel. Defining those fears helps to give them clear boundaries. For example, did you have a bad day at work? It happens to all of us, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great evening. Did you have a bad day of eating? It doesn’t mean you can’t have a great workout. Do you regret a purchase? Learn from the experience, then file it and move on, don’t let the bad feeling linger and grow.

3) Find Inspiration

There are days when fear and anxiety have left me feeling less than impressed with myself. On those days, I need to look elsewhere for inspiration, to friends, mentors, and coaches. If I don’t want to be more like me today, then I’ll try to be more like them, until I’m out of this funk and I’m once again seeing myself as the kind of person I want to be.

4) Start Each Day Well

Especially on the busiest and most stressful days, try to not jump right into the day – hold it at bay for a short time. Take some time for yourself. Whether it’s a workout, yoga, a healthy breakfast, or quiet time to help start your day, these things can put a positive spin on any day, and over time you’ll build habits and a foundation which will be hard to shake.

5) Focus on the Positive

Try to remember the feeling you had on a great day – you spent a day with close friends and loved ones, or you achieved a very personal goal. Make a mental note when something good happens, so that you can recall it later when things are tough. If you’ve made a mistake, try not to dwell on the situation: forgive yourself and move on. Positive reminders will help motivate you, and staying positive will provide a balm against fear and anxiety.

6) Keep a Record

For me, data is king – a record of my hard work helps keep me positive. Without it, I don’t give myself credit for my accomplishments, and can easily feel like I haven’t made any progress. Keep track of your daily progress, and give yourself credit. Congratulate yourself on your achievements, both big and small. Having this record is a nice thing to look back on when things aren’t going so well.

For example, here’s what a rough two weeks looks like, good days and bad, highs and lows:

A graph of the last two weeks.

But compare that to the last six months:

A graph of the last six months.

The line is moving upward, however slowly. Knowing that in the grand scheme of things I’m making progress helps me to push past fear, and helps me do the good work that keeps me positive and keeps the line moving upward.

Getting out of quicksand takes some work, and it’s not always easy. Hopefully these tips can help you like they’ve helped me, and next time you find yourself stuck in quicksand, you’re out quickly and on your way forward again.

1 reply »

  1. A reader asked a good question: what happens if you track all this data and the data just gets worse, the line goes downhill? This definitely happens, you can see it in my data above – there are periods in your life when things aren’t going so well. But the great thing about having the data is that you can see trends happening in real time, and work to regain the positive momentum. Without tracking it, you may not realize or react as quickly.

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