How to Use Your Fears to Progress

If you’ve made up your mind to live the international lifestyle—and even done your homework—but you’re still afraid to actually take the leap, I have good news for you.

The fact that you’re scared means that somewhere inside of you, you believe it’s actually possible to do the thing you want to do. That alone is huge.

Think about it. If you didn’t think it was possible you’d never even get to fear. When you allow yourself to get to the fear stage, you’re one step closer to achieving your dream.

Before she became famous, what scared Academy-award-winning actor Helen Hunt most was auditioning for stage parts on Broadway. For a lot of people, fear can be a show stopper. It may sound counter-intuitive, but Helen used her fear to propel her forward.

“If I started to feel too safe doing anything,” she says, “I would move toward what scared me.”

So she left Los Angeles to literally move in the direction of her greatest fear. After what she says were “a lot of bad auditions,” Hunt finally landed a starring role on Broadway opposite the late Spaulding Gray.

Then when long-time idol Woody Allen tapped Hunt to be his co-star in The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, Hunt’s initial reaction was a combination of awe and anxiety. Had this opportunity come along earlier in her career, she admits fear may have gotten the best of her. Instead, she decided “to just take a swing at the ball.” Once at the plate, she didn’t let the fear of striking out keep her from having fun: ” thought if I don’t do well, he’ll fire me. So, until that happens, I’m just going to enjoy this experience.”

When you understand the purpose fear plays in your life, you can learn to listen to your fears differently. And when the opportunity to realize a long-held dream presents itself, step confidently up to the plate.

Once you’re in the game, have fun! Think of something you’ve always wanted to do. Move to Panama and set up a beach bar. Go to Africa to work with gorillas. Help women in Vietnam start micro-businesses.

If the thought of doing it scares you, add it to your dream list. Then ask, “What can I do to move toward what scares me?”

You don’t have to be a Hollywood celebrity to reach for your own star. Just take a page out of Helen Hunt’s play book.

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