"It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult." ~ Seneca
Thinking big – whether to create a new business or more balance in your life – is great, but actually taking steps towards those goals can be scary because it may require you to step out of your comfort zone.
In previous articles I've suggested many science-based techniques for achieving your goals, but ultimately you may just have to-as the ancient aphorism suggests-feel the fear and do it anyway.
Note that I recommend that approach only if the fear is a small part of the equation and the excitement is much greater. And how will you know?
Start by checking in with your emotional guidance system. Does your goal make you feel bad because you don't feel ready and you're afraid you'll never be ready?
Or does it make you tingle with delicious anticipation? If you're all tingly, you can just skip to the next paragraph. But if you don't feel ready, you might want to trust your intuition.
That doesn't mean that you can't make progress-it just means that whatever you're planning, you might want to take smaller steps until you feel more comfortable.
No matter how you are feeling, if you are not taking even small steps towards your dreams it is time to call in the affirmations. One of my favorite affirmations is attributed to Walt Disney: "If you can dream it, you can do it."
But a good affirmation doesn't have to be all pithy and mystical like some sort of koan. Ultimately all you need in an affirmation is a clearly expressed thought that feels better and works for you.
That last part is crucial. In order to be effective, that better-feeling thought must ring true for you. For example, saying "I'm enjoying a wonderful love relationship." may be too much of a stretch. But saying "I'm on my way to enjoying a wonderful love relationship." may work.
Lines from your favorite songs are also a good place to look for positive messages that resonate deeply. I found one in Mary J. Blige's Just Fine:
Having a real good time, I'm not complaining
And I'ma still wear a smile if it's raining
I gotta enjoy myself regardless
I appreciate life, I'm so glad that it's mine.
Affirmations that help you feel like you're having a little fun are also great.
An affirmation I use when dealing with business matters is "Tap your inner Oprah." It always tickles me and makes me feel powerful.
Oprah knows exactly what she wants and she asks for it – firmly, decisively, and with grace. One of the things I admire most is her curiosity.
I've read reports that she goes into exchanges looking for connection, without judgment, and it's obvious she's genuinely interested in others.
If I find myself in a situation that makes me feel uncomfortable I think about Oprah, and I become less self-conscious. I stop thinking, "This is hard," or "How does this make me look?" and become more interested in the exchange, not the outcome.
If Oprah doesn't ring your bells, whom do you admire? You might prefer to take a page from Cesar Milan, host of the fascinating series, The Dog Whisperer.
The premise of the show is that he rehabilitates "bad" dogs, but it's pretty obvious in every program that he is really training the owners to think and behave differently.
Time after time he demonstrates that there are two energies in the animal kingdom: dominant and submissive. Dominant energy is energy that is aligned with one's inner source. It creates balance; it creates a positive, forward-moving direction and everyone wants to align with it.
Cesar also calls dominant energy calm, assertive energy. This means you have no tension or nervousness in your mind. You know that you CAN think big and you're going to do whatever you have to do to make your goals happen.
So if you're confronted with a situation where you're tempted to abandon your center, you might remind yourself to "Tap your inner Cesar" and get back into a calm, assertive flow.
Here's an assignment: Write several affirmations for yourself – write them on sticky notes and post them all over your house, on the dashboard of your car and in your wallet.
Feel the shift every time you read them. You can also find a symbol that is meaningful to you. Choose an affirmation to associate with it so that when you see your symbol it reminds you of that affirmation. (That works for those times where you need a reminder, but can't just put up a sticky note with the actual words posted-in your office, for example.)
Doing this assignment will help you create a practice, almost like a ritual, that will form and shape your day. Those messages will remind you of your intentions and bring you inspiration and encouragement. Eventually they'll become a way to talk to yourself on a whole new level-perfect for when all your little steps forward land you on a whole new level of challenges.
By then of course, you'll be ready: don't be surprised when magic happens. Please share your affirmations with me in the comments below!