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Published on February 10, 2020

10 Biggest Fears That Hold You Back from Living Your Best Life

10 Biggest Fears That Hold You Back from Living Your Best Life

Has your biggest fear ever held you back from doing something that you wanted to do before? For anyone that is trying to be a better person in life, the answer is yes.

Most people bundle their biggest fears into one big scary package of nerves, anxiety and inaction. But what if I told that there wasn’t just one biggest fear, but lots of them? And that each of them can be broken down and solved, with a little bit of practice?

It is likely that fear is the number one thing holding you back from living your best possible life. This article will highlight the most common fears that people have that hold them back and how to overcome them.

1. Fear of Failure

The fear of failure is one of the most common biggest fear that hold people back from living their best life. In a world that puts successful people on a podium, there can be shame on those who fall short or even worse, try in the first place.

In the wise words of Anthony de Mello:[1]

“When the archer shoots for no particular prize, he has all his skills; when he shoots to win a brass buckle, he is already nervous; when he shoots for a gold prize, he goes blind, sees two targets, and is out of his mind. His skill has not changed, but the prize divides him.”

Get rid of your fear of failure, your tensions about succeeding, and you will be yourself. You will be relaxed and at your most able. You wouldn’t drive with your brakes on, and the same goes for life.

2. Fear of Success

One of the lesser-known but very common fears that might be holding you back is the fear of success. How can anyone fear success you might ask? Well, success has its own set of problems and fears.

Success can come out of nowhere, and change everything when you aren’t ready. Once you have success and get comfortable with it, it can vanish in an instant. People hold back not just because they are afraid of success, but because they are afraid of getting it and losing it.

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The solution is similar to that of the biggest fear of failure – you just have to live your own life and see what comes your way. Both success and failure are inevitable in any worthwhile endeavour, so relax and embrace both of them.

3. Fear of Loss

Fear of loss is most likely one of the most prominent and powerful fears that is holding you back. The biggest fear of loss often stimulates negative emotions like anger that stop you from being the person you can be.

Think of the last time you were angry and search for the fear behind it. What were you afraid of losing? What were you afraid would be taken from you? That’s where the anger comes from. Think of an angry person, maybe someone you’re afraid of. Can you see how frightened he or she is?

In order to get over this fear, you have to confront the fear of losing things so that you can actually enjoy everything that you love. You have to leave your attachment behind, so you can live with the joy of what you have.

4. Fear of Being Judged

This biggest fear is one that is known for keeping people in their shell, in their place and away from everything that they could achieve.

You might have heard the fable of The Man, the Boy and the Donkey. They were walking alongside their donkey to the market when a man scoffs at them and says that the donkey is a wasted creature if no-one is riding it. So, the man helps his son onto the donkey and before long they are interrupted by a woman, who can’t believe that a youngster with fresh legs would make his old man walk. Then, the man jumps on the donkey, and the boy steps off. They continue on, before a passer-by calls the man a lazy lout for making his young son walk.

Try and please everyone, and you will please no-one. You are going to be judged no matter what you do, so you may as well live your life as you want.

5. Fear of Losing Our ‘Identity’

Your identity might be something that you cling on to as if it were one of your most prized possessions – often without even realizing it. As humans, we weave these stories in our heads about who we are, what we want and what people like us do.

These stories are easy to create but very difficult to escape once set in stone.

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Abstract and mostly made-up concepts like careers and identities come into conflict all the time, and often blend into one as a sort of compromise.

The same is true in other situations. How could you ever just walk up to a pretty girl and start a conversation? You are the type of guy who is shy and keeps themselves to themselves. How could you ever take a day off when you are tired? You are a productivity machine that can never take a day off.

Having an identity can be reassuring for a short while, but it doesn’t take long for it shut every single door to change. If you are unhappy with where you are right now, it’s likely that there is a part of your identity that you are fighting fiercely to protect.

6. Fear of Losing Control

The biggest fear of losing control is another big fear that holds many of us back from living our best life. Many people substitute improvement and happiness with control and comfort, and that is where you can go wrong.

In order to be truly happy, truly free and live the life that you want, you have to be willing to surrender control. For anyone that wants to progress, playing the same video game level over and over eventually gets boring. At some stage, you have to take a leap into the next level and surrender the control and confidence that you had over the lower level.

A lot of people are falling short of their potential but they don’t mind because they are in control. In order to get over this fear, you need to accept that you never have total control anyway. Our plans are at the mercy of the weather. Our Friday nights are at the mercy of what our friends want to do and our lifespan is at the mercy of something outside of ourselves.

When you realise that you don’t have as much control as you thought to begin with, it makes it a bit easier to overcome the fear of losing a bit more control when the time is right.

7. Fear of Time

Fear of time is an entirely modern phenomenon that according to Psychology Today, only originated around 10,000 years ago. More specifically, it is the fear of not having enough time.[2]

Whether you worry about not having enough hours in the day or worry about how fast life is going by, these are forms of something called ‘time anxiety’.

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Time anxiety can lead you into habits and behaviors that leave you far short of living your best possible life. It makes you rush things that you should be relaxing and enjoying. It makes you agitated rather than content. Although it can make you more productive, you often act out of compulsion rather than freedom – and no-one wants that.

The best way to get over the fear of time moving too fast is to firstly, define what ‘time well spent’ means to you. Secondly, make more space for these moments and activities. Finally, cut out time-consuming distractions that take over your precious moments when you don’t want them too.

8. Fear of Who You Really Are

According to a research paper[3] on the subject, it is estimated that 70 percent of people will experience something that is known as ‘impostor syndrome’ in their lives. This is the condition where you don’t feel worthy or deserving of the success that you are receiving.

One of the main reasons impostor syndrome is so prominent is because no-one knows us better than ourselves. You know what your guilty pleasures are, you know what you secretly hate and secretly love. You know where you come short where others might think you excel and you know where you are better than what others give you credit for.

The good news for you is that everyone is in the same boat. Everyone has dark sides that they aren’t proud of, actions that they regret and shortcomings that they wish weren’t there. The difference between those things holding you back and you reaching your goals comes down to forgiveness and acceptance that who you are is more than enough. Broken pieces and all.

9. Fear of the Loss of the Known

Many people think that when we are scared of the dark, scared of the shadows or scared of making a big change in our life, it is because we are scared of the unknown.

It’s not that your biggest fear is fear of the unknown. You cannot fear something that you do not know. Nobody is afraid of the unknown. What you really fear is the loss of the known.

This response is perfectly natural. Back in our hunter-gatherer days, any loss of the known was almost always the path to certain death. Whether we found ourselves outside of our tribe, eating food we had never tried or anything else outside of the known, we were often in trouble. It is hard-wired into your brain to keep the known close at all times.

But you are no longer a hunter in the savannah. Your primitive mind doesn’t realize it but your higher, intellectual mind does. Your primitive mind sees any loss of the known as a threat, whereas your higher mind sees it as an opportunity to grow and learn.

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Whichever mind is louder in your head is likely to guide your actions – so feed the intellectual mind as much as possible.

10. Fear of What’s Next

Nobody knows what comes after this life, and all of the fears on this list can be whittled down to the biggest fear of dying and whatever is next.

It is common to purposely drown out your attention in the politics, stresses, worries and plans of daily life in order to avoid thinking about the bigger question. However, it is only when we come to accept our own mortality and stare it in the face that the fear of it starts to disappear.

While some people fear that thinking about this bigger truth will liberate them from all responsibility, that nothing they do actually matters and that they’ll live a life of apathy, the reality is that it forces action the other way – it scares them into responsibility.

It means that there’s no reason to not love ourselves and one another. That there’s no reason to not treat ourselves and our planet with respect. That there’s no reason to not live every moment of our lives as though it were to be lived in eternal recurrence.

It’s a big responsibility to be here, but life is too short and too precious to fear anything other than a life unlived.

Overcome Your Biggest Fear

Although there are biggest fear that can arise in your own personal path to greatness, each of them can be solved in their own unique ways. Ironically, your biggest fear is not something to be feared. Fear is a natural part of life and all fears have a source that can be discovered and overcome, one step at a time.

Featured photo credit: KAL VISUALS via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] goodreads: Anthony de Mello Quotes
[2] Psychology Today:Why People Worry Much More Than They Need To
[3] International Journal of Behavioral Science: The Impostor Phenomenon

More by this author

Daniel Riley

Daniel is a writer who specialises in personal development and helping others become the best version of themselves.

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Last Updated on September 29, 2020

How to Change Your Life at 60 Years Old and Feel Proud of Yourself

How to Change Your Life at 60 Years Old and Feel Proud of Yourself

Ever heard the phrase 60 is the new 40? While that maybe an exaggeration, it’s meant to highlight the very real phenomenon of our ever increasing health and longer lifespans.

For the average person who turned 60 in 1970, they could expect to retire at age 64 and live to age 70.8. For someone who turned 60 in 2010, they can very easily work throughout their entire 60’s and expect to live to at least 78.7 years old.[1] With the advances in modern medicine, lower rates of smoking and generally healthier lifestyles, our active and productive years can expand well into our 70’s and beyond.

How we choose to use this “extra” time will be determined by our current situation and our priorities for the future.

For some, their 60’s are a time to kick back and relax. They have worked for 30+ years, lived below their means and diligently saved money for retirement. They may also have sold a successful business, or been able to retire from a (increasing scarce) job that had a good pension.

For others, the prospect of retirement isn’t even a thought. Whether it’s a case of financial reality or just the psychological need to be productive, a continuing presence in the workforce is a reality for more and more of the 60+ crowd.

So how to change your life at 60 years old and feel proud of yourself?

Changing Priorities in Your 60’s

For most us us, our priorities change as we get older. Living for parties and excitement, what use to be called “working for the weekend” slowly gives way to working on the weekend and eventually working towards retirement.

By the time we hit our 60’s, a lot of us are looking to slow down. Health issues, either our own, our spouses or parents often come into play at this time in our life. This combined with having (hopefully) grown children, a paid or nearly paid off home and bit of savings in the bank. This means that you can start to trade long hours and stressful work situations for a more flexible schedule and more leisure time.

The key to making a successful life change in your 60’s is being prepared for both the mental and financial challenges you are likely to face.

Understanding the Psychological Challenges

Any major life change comes with its own set of psychological challenges. When that change takes place in our 60’s. there are some very specific psychological issues to be aware of.

Some of these issues are apparent and we easily recognize them. For instance, we’ve all heard someone say “When I retire, I don’t know what I’ll do with all that time on my hands”. While other challenges are more subtle and harder to quantify such as depression and anxiety.

While not everyone suffers with all or even most of them, here are come common psychological issues to be aware of:

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Anxiety

Even positive life changes can cause our anxiety levels to increase. Humans are creatures of habit. We develop routines that make our lives predictable and we rely on that predictability to give us comfort.

Now imagine that after 30+ years of having a relatively stable and routine job, you suddenly retire, get sick, or find yourself out of a job. The routine that you have relied upon to give you a sense of normalcy is suddenly gone.

In humans, the natural response to any major life changing event is an increase in anxiety. Symptoms and severity will vary from person to person, but you should always expect your anxiety levels to increase with any major life change in your 60’s.

What can you do about it?

Establish a new routine to replace the old one, this is the reason we have hobbies!

Gardening, golf, tennis, volunteer work all can help to get you back into a comfortable routine.

Helpful hint: Pick a hobby that has both a physical and social component to it. Both physical and social activity will help to lower anxiety levels.

Depression

Even the most happy-go-lucky of us become susceptible to depression during a major life event. In fact, when retiring, changing careers or even striking out on a new business adventure, both anxiety and depression can go hand in hand.

You may find yourself with a lot of excess “nervous” energy that you would have used at your job to meet deadlines and get things done. On the other hand, you may find that you have no energy and all and it’s tough to even get out of bed.

While everyone experiences everyday or “normal” bouts of anxiety and depression, it becomes a problem when these episodes become severe, or last longer that a few days.

At that point, it turns into a serious life threatening situation. It’s recommended that a person seeks medical help if they experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Feelings of extreme sadness, emptiness or hopelessness that seem to envelop you.
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, especially over small or normally insignificant matters.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that use to give pleasure, such as sex, hobbies or sports.
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping too much).
  • General tiredness or malaise, so that even small tasks seem to take a lot of effort.
  • Unusual changes in appetite, rapid weight loss or gain.
  • Slowed or delayed patterns of thinking, speaking or body movements.
  • Constant feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things (more than normal).
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicide or suicide attempts.
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain, headaches or stomach ailments.

Dealing with the Financial Challenges

There are very unique financial considerations to take into account when making a major life change in your 60’s.

Depending on your situation, you may find yourself having to come to terms with a completely new relationship with money. Whether retiring, changing careers or starting your own business, chances are your income is going to take a hit.

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Part of making a successful life change at 60 is anticipating and planning for these events so you don’t get blindsided. The following is a list of general recommendations that everyone in their 60’s should consider.

1. Get aggressive about paying off debt

Especially credit card debt, it’s almost always at a high interest rate and, without any tax advantages, it just makes all of your purchases more expensive.

So if you are still carrying balances on your credit cards every month, it’s time to get those paid off.

Start with the credit card that has the highest interest rate, and then work your way to the card with the lowest rate.

These tips on How to Nix Your Credit Card Debt in Less Than 3 Years can help you too.

2. Pay off the house

If your home isn’t paid off already, after paying off credit card debt, this should be the next goal. It’s much less stressful going into a situation where you’ll have less income if your house is paid off.

You’ll not only reduce your expenses by not having a mortgage payment, but you’ll also have the piece of mind that comes with knowing that your home isn’t going anywhere.

3. Make a budget

No matter what kind of change you make in your 60’s — career change, retirement or becoming a entrepreneur, both your income and expenses are going to change.

Things like the cost of commuting, wardrobe expenses, credit card and mortgage payments are likely to be reduced. You’ll still need to budget for things like home repair and maintenance (how’s the AC unit or the roof?). Car maintenance and even replacement.

And don’t forget about leisure and entertainment expenses, after all, we all need to enjoy life. As a general rule, 30% of your budget should be allocated to leisure and entertainment expenses.

4. Examine and re-adjust your investment portfolio

This is where a good financial planner comes in. While your earlier investment goals were designed to maximize the amount of money in your retirement account. At this point in your journey, the goals have changed to providing you an income for the rest of your life.

You also want to protect the principal from unnecessary risks so it lasts as long as you do. A good financial adviser can help you make the change from a growth orientated investment strategy into more dividend or income producing assets for your golden years.

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5. Consider a change of address

Depending on where you live, moving to a new state might make financial sense. High tax states not only can zap your resources faster than states with lower taxes, but can often times make you get much more “bang for your buck” by moving.

Things like housing, personal property, sales and gas taxes can all add up to a significant savings in a low tax state. Places like Texas, Arizona, Nevada and Florida all have an influx of people migrating from the higher tax states on each coast.

6. Reexamine your insurance needs

A good experienced insurance broker is your best asset when tackling this task.

Do you still need that disability policy to cover your mortgage in case you get hurt? Or could you take that money and buy an annuity that would give you some extra income? What about the cash value of your life insurance?

Walt Disney used the cash value of his life insurance to start Disneyland.[2] Even your car insurance needs to be reevaluated. You can often times save money through good driving and senior discounts as well as eliminating your commuter miles.

Talk to your insurance broker to maximize the benefits and minimize the costs of insurance.

7. Consider becoming an entrepreneur

Roughly 1/3 of people in their 60’s decide to strike out on their own and be their own boss. And why not?

Children are (usually) out of the house, household and credit card debt is likely to be low, most people have some savings by this point in their life and often times they are at the pinnacle of their career.

With the prospect of any further career advancement unlikely, many see this as the perfect time to start their own business.

Now ideally, if you’re going to start a business, you should start 2-3 years before you plan on retiring. This will give you a chance to become established, build your network and income stream all while maintaining the benefits of your current job.

But even if you didn’t start early, you can still become a successful entrepreneur, in fact, studies show that older entrepreneurs are generally more successful than their younger counterparts.

So don’t think that your too old to start something, many successful entrepreneurs started businesses later in life. People like Ray Kroc (McDonald’s), Harland “Colonel” Sanders (Kentucky Fried Chicken), Walt Disney, Charles Flint (IBM) and many more. The only person telling you that you can’t do it is you.

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It’s never too late to start your business! Here’s the proof.

8. Consider becoming a consultant

If you don’t feel the bite of the entrepreneur bug, but still want to stay connected and earn money. How about becoming a consultant?

After 30+ years working in an industry, you’ve built up a world of knowledge, contacts and experience. All of which is useful and has value.

Doing consulting work allows you to have control over your schedule and, once you are established, it can provide a significant source of income.

9. Get a part-time job for more than just the money

Both entrepreneurship and consulting can take a lot of time and effort, but picking the right part time job can cut your expenses and give you a little spending money.

What are your hobbies? Do you like to golf? Become a marshal on your local golf course. Most courses will pay you a modest hourly rate and let you golf for free.

How about gardening? A part time job at your local nursery will not only provide you with pocket money, but also a discount on plants.

Whatever your hobbies or interests, there’s a part time job out there for you.

Conclusion

Whether you are changing careers, starting a business or retiring, big life changes are by their very nature stressful.

The great thing about being older is that we have the advantage of experience. We’ve been though other life changing events and can anticipate some of the issues we’ll face.

Becoming well informed, getting prepared and making a plan will insure that you can change your life at 60 years old and feel proud of yourself.

Featured photo credit: Ian Schneider via unsplash.com

Reference

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