6 Steps to Overcome Fear and Pursue Your Dream

elizabeth gilbert quote about fear

One of the most significant blocks to pursuing a dream is fear. It’s a big reason why I didn’t fully pursue my dreams and why I was afraid to begin sharing my desire to write with the world. However, our dreams are too important to be held back by fear or anything else. In this post, I give you six simple steps to overcome fear so you can start living the life you want. These are six ways I have personally used to help me move forward toward my goals. I hope they will help you do the same.

Step #1: Do it Anyway

Do the thing you are afraid to fail at, even when you’re scared. To overcome fear, you must accept that it’s there and continue on anyway. Don’t wait for the moment when you’re no longer afraid, that moment will never come, you must start toward your goals while you’re still scared. Just start. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just start creating. Let your “good enough” be the starting point.

“…if you can’t learn to travel comfortably alongside your fear, then you’ll never be able to go anywhere interesting or do anything interesting.”
~Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Step #2: Find Your Cheerleader

Find that person who will encourage you when fear tries to stop you.  Sometimes we need a little help to overcome fear, and that’s okay! For me, this is my husband. He tells me I can do it, and he tells me that I matter and that he believes in me.  You need to find this person for you. Besides close family or friends, find a group of like-minded people who share the same passion and dreams.  

If you’re a writer, join a writing group. If you’re a painter, take a class and meet some other artists.  Perhaps you want to travel to Italy, then take a class at your local community college and learn Italian while meeting others who share your passion. These are just examples, but you get the point.  Surround yourself with positive voices and like-minded dreamers. It’s easy to find the negative, work hard to surround yourself with a positive support system.

cheer for people quote

Step #3: Talk Through the Worst-Case Scenario

Sometimes, it’s the “what-ifs” that hold us back–the fear of what might happen or the fear of the unknown. To overcome fear, you need to talk through what you’re afraid of. So ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen if you start pursuing your dream?

You could fail.  

Okay, but we’ve already learned that failure can be a positive thing.  We learn from it, grow from it, and it shows we started something. Failure is a part of living.  You are alive and living if you are failing at something. 

You could lose everything. 

Maybe, but highly unlikely, you’ll lose “everything.” If you do, you can always start over and try again.  Focus on what is truly important: your life, your health, your loved ones, and your faith. As long as you don’t lose these things, you will never lose “everything.”

People will laugh at you. 

Yep, totally possible.  Are you pursuing this goal for the approval of others? Or are you doing this to feed a longing inside of you?  Is this for you or them? Do the opinions of others define you? To face our fear of what people will think, we must stop comparing ourselves and stop fearing the judgment of others.  We must also realize that we can never please everyone all the time. overcome fear be brave and willing to disappoint others

Step #4: Start Where You’re At

You don’t need to learn everything first, start achieving your goals now, where you’re at. You’re a beginner, so begin! Take a class, watch a video online, and research tools to help you learn and grow, but start moving forward now.  This ties into the need for perfection; you want to make sure you have everything just right, so you don’t make a mistake.  This will keep you from ever starting or ever finishing. So start pursuing your dream today with the tools you have and learn along the way. Let yourself be a beginner.

Another important part of starting where you’re at is not looking at the time up to this point, or even the time it takes you to get to where you want to be, as a waste.  Brene´ Brown tells about her journey to attend the University of Texas and get her Bachelor’s degree.  This was a dream of hers, and although it took her almost 12 years to do it, she finally achieved her goal.  She lives by two words, “nothing wasted.” She views all the time leading up to the accomplishment of her dream as time spent preparing her for what was next.  

So wherever you’re starting at, try not to think of it as time wasted.  Use every moment you have now, even if it’s not exactly where you want to be.  You never know how it will all tie into what is coming next. Use the time and resources you have now (Youtube, Lynda.com, Skillshare, etc.) to start pursuing your dream today. Determine to let nothing be wasted along your journey. You can start where you are, no matter where that is.

embrace the idea that your dreams matter quote

Step #5: Take It One Bite At a Time

Try writing down five things you can do to start this dream of yours.  Then post these five things up in a few different places, along with some photos or quotes to inspire you and keep you focused. By creating this list, you will face your fear of starting, and you will also gain confidence in knowing that you can do this! 

Anne Lamott, in her book Bird by Bird, tells a story about her younger brother, who was ten years old and had a book report on birds that was due the next day.  He originally had three months to complete the report but had put off writing it until the last possible day. He was distraught and almost in tears, not knowing how he would accomplish this task. That’s when Anne’s father told him, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”  

The book Bird by Bird is about writing your first book. However, the concept applies to any big goal you want to accomplish. Every big dream starts with a small step. Step by step, you work toward achieving the task in front of you. It takes time to accomplish a goal.  It takes time to write a book or to start a business. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. (Of course, I’d never literally eat an elephant, they’re magnificent creatures!) You set goals and begin little by little, one bite at a time to accomplish your dream.

only one way to eat an elephant quote

Step #6: Do It For Yourself

Don’t do this to impress anyone or even to get rich. Pursue your goals because they matter to you.  Your dream is worth your time and should be something that calls out to you day in and day out. It may not always be enjoyable, but it’s worth doing because it makes you happy and gives you purpose.  Part of the journey to overcome fear, is to let go of the fear of what others think. Sometimes, it only matters what you think about yourself.

If you create something true to the calling you feel inside yourself, then you will not only bring yourself joy, but you will spread that joy to others. Each of us is designed for a purpose, and we need to discover what that is and then never stop.

your dreams matter quoteFinal Thoughts

These six steps to overcome fear go hand in hand with my article on Facing Your Fears and Starting Scared. The most important one is Step #1: Do it Anyway. If you take anything away from these steps, I hope it is to pursue your dreams now, despite your fear.  The feeling you get from actually going from dreaming to doing is such an amazing one.  You will learn, grow, and gain confidence as you take these steps to overcome your fears and pursue your dreams.  Make yourself a priority.

Leave me a comment below or send me a message about how you’re overcoming your fears and pursuing a dream.  I would love to be a cheerleader in your life.

Your Dreams Matter!

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  • Angela at Reply

    Great article! I really like the Rachel Hollis quote from her book, Girl Stop Apologizing!

    • Charity at Reply

      Thank you for your feedback! I am glad you enjoyed it. Which Rachel Hollis quote spoke to you most? I had two in there, one at the end of Step 4 and one in Step 6.

  • Angela at Reply

    The end of step 4. Love it!

    • Charity at Reply

      I thought that was probably the one. That one stood out to me too. I am learning it’s okay to not have everyone’s understanding or approval for my dreams and passions. Sometimes you just have to be your own cheerleader.

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