I have thought a lot about fear recently, and revisiting the sections I highlighted when I read James Harmon’s book, Take My Advice, has helped me approach fear from multiple perspectives. In Harmon’s book the photographer Horst writes, “Don’t be afraid. One learns through pain, and suffering. Patience helps!” His quote explains his thoughts on the difficult and painful parts of life that we all strive to avoid.
What I have come to notice with failure is that I am not afraid of the act of failing at something, but I am afraid of the consequences that follow failure. I think this is an important distinction to make. I am not afraid of what I can control with a given situation and its result, but I am afraid of the consequences that will follow in the form of other people’s reactions to my failure. On a second and deeper level, I am for some reason, afraid of hard work. Whenever I get a great idea in my head I can go crazy with what I want to do and how fun it would be to actualize my idea, but then the realization of how much work it will take often paralyzes me. I have no problem working hard, I graduated Cum Laude, but the idea of additional work in an already busy life becomes overwhelming.
I think that Horst would advocate for me to have patience and plan my goals out over a long time so that the work becomes less daunting. The problem I have with this idea is the fear of working hard with something, only to find out halfway or two thirds of the way to my goal, that I want something else. I don’t want my hard work to accidentally steer me away from what I want and into something I had not intended. Patience and a long term goal in this sense can be something to fear itself.
Richard Wiseman in his book, 59 Seconds: Think a Little Change a Lot, does offer a solution to this dilemma. Wiseman reviewed popular self-help and advice books to see if any of their suggestions had real scientific backing. What he found in conquering fear and chasing goals is that those who journal are more likely to reach their long term goals. He would combine Horst’s idea of patience with a level of self-awareness. Wiseman’s advice is to be honest about what you want and why, and then examine what you could to do get where you want to go. Along the way everyone will face obstacles, and Wiseman says that spending time journaling about how you will overcome those obstacles will help you understand the difficult parts and plan ahead. This way, when you do hit periods of turbulence and hard work, you don’t need to be afraid. Instead of fear of hard work, I can journal to understand what kinds of hard work I can expect and how I will solve problems to mitigate the hard work. This focus can give me more confidence and reduce the fear of consequences and the fear of hard work.