Big Dreams Mean Big Fears: 3 Ways to Overcome Them

Have you ever looked at a confident woman and dejectedly thought, “She’s so poised and successful; she must have it all together.”

Of course you have. But I’m here to let you in on a secret: Everybody thinks that way sometimes.

Fear, doubt, and insecurity — if you experience them, you’re probably headed in the right direction. The real key to success isn’t getting rid of business anxieties; it’s embracing them and moving forward anyway.

If you’re anxious about your goals, it means you’re going after something big, expanding beyond your comfort zone. That’s exactly where you should be as a woman trying to affect the world.

Be boldly yourself.

For a long time, I tried to mimic successful people around me. I watched and imitated, convinced their self-assuredness would rub off if only I mimed it well enough. But before long, I lost touch with myself and chipped away at my natural power. Once I realized my power came from me, I also realized I needed to be boldly myself.

My epiphany hit home during a meeting with a potential business partner. Neither of us really wanted to work together, but we needed each other to reach our goals.

The gentleman I met was clearly uncomfortable with a young minority woman on the other side of the table. He spent most of the meeting trying to bulldoze me into his way of thinking.

Once upon a time, I would have submitted, doubting my own priorities. This time, though, I held my stance. He eventually became so irate that he stood up and literally threw the contract documents across the room. It would’ve been easy to react with anger, but instead, I calmly asked if he was ready to get back to negotiations.

Staying true to my vision and my ideals — instead of cowering at someone else’s — wasn’t just good for my self-esteem; it was the best way to position myself as a strong negotiator and confident business partner.

Stop worrying about what you should do, how you should act, and what others are thinking. Instead, be boldly yourself.

Keep your eye on your ‘why.’

Want another way to beat back fear, anxiety, and insecurity? Keep your eye on your “why.”

Let’s say you need to raise $1 million in funding for a nonprofit. You could spend a lot of time worrying about the logistics. Do you have enough resources and team members? Do you have enough relationships? Who will you ask? Will they be annoyed? What if you get turned down?

These fears will consume you if you let them.

Instead, find ways to remind yourself of your “why.” Why are you doing this in the first place? What gets me out of bed every morning is my commitment to closing the opportunity gap for young people in Washington, D.C. I’m so committed to the cause that I’ll do anything for it, and my own insecurities just fizzle away. When I think about my “why,” I’m no longer concerned about myself — my attention is on my mission.

Keep a vision board with all of your “whys” in one place. Want to stop hunger and cure poverty? Put that in a prominent place to remind you of why you work so hard. Let it be your driving force.

Don’t compare your “why” to anyone else’s because it doesn’t matter. It’s why you get out of bed; it’s your fuel.

Embrace the ‘no.’

This one’s tough, but you’ll be surprised how much it helps.

Instead of avoiding opportunities for people to tell you “no,” hunt them down. Chase the “no” — if you’re hearing rejection, that means you’re asking. It’s the only way to get the “yes” you’re looking for.

A few years ago, I met with the manager of a sports team in the D.C. area I wanted to partner with. The meeting went well. We talked about the details, and I walked away convinced of success.

But the guy never called me back after that.

It wasn’t easy, but I didn’t let that discourage me from my goal. I didn’t let my hurt feelings dissuade me from achieving my dream.

Remind yourself that you only hear “no” when you go after big things. Small things are easy to say “yes” to. Pursue the “no” because it means you’re stretching yourself. Rejoice in the “no” because it means you’re one step closer to your goal.

Remember, we’re all afraid, anxious, and insecure. Accept that if you’re chasing big dreams, you’ll have big fears. Just remember to be boldly yourself, keep your eye on the “why,” and embrace the “no.” Before long, you’ll join the ranks of successful women others assume have it all together.


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