5 Ways to Step Forward When You’re Scared to Death

5 Ways to Step Forward When You’re Scared to Death

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”
―Eleanor Roosevelt

Fear is the most powerful single factor that deprives you of being able to achieve your full potential.  You experience it most often as a result of your own thoughts and emotional visions, rather than actual real world causes.  In other words, you become fearful of a fantasy – something that doesn’t exist.

Fear is a cloaked enemy that whispers negative thoughts into your mind, body and soul.  It tries to convince you that you will not succeed and that you cannot achieve your full potential.  These thoughts are lies.

The road you are traveling may be a bit scary at times, but don’t lose faith.  Don’t listen to your fears and the fears of those around you.  Don’t let old setbacks work their way into your present thinking.  And most of all, don’t give up on what’s important to you.

It’s fine to feel a bit uncomfortable.  It’s okay if you don’t know exactly what’s going to happen next, or how much you can handle.  As long as you gradually step forward you will learn what you need to know.  You will let go of the scary things that ‘might happen’ and start to see all the great realities unfolding around you.

This is your life and it’s an open road.  Grab the wheel with both hands and keep steering yourself around all the unnecessary fears and uncertainties as they arise.  Here’s how…

1.  Envision and declare what you want.

Regardless of fear or actual real world barriers, whenever you want to achieve something, you have to envision it and declare it.  You have to keep your eyes open and focused specifically on what you want.  It’s simply impossible to hit a target you haven’t declared, or get anywhere worthwhile with your eyes closed and your vision blurred.

The first step is realizing that what you want to achieve is already a big part of who you are.  You may be a novice just beginning a great journey, or you may be a veteran who hasn’t yet realized her dream.  Either way, the fact that you haven’t attained your desired result yet doesn’t make you any less of a force to be reckoned with.

In other words, if you want to run a marathon, you are a marathon runner.  You just need to run.  If you want to be a writer, you are a writer.  You just need to write.  Etc.  It’s only ever a matter of training, studying and practicing.

Whatever it is you want to do, envision it and declare it out loud:  “I am going to _______.”  Read 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.

And then start doing it.

2.  Know the consequence staying where you are.

What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?

It wouldn’t be.  Life is movement.  Inaction based on fear not only stops you from achieving, it stops you from living.

Your future depends on what you do today.  The fear of failure, or whatever, can be daunting, but it’s nowhere near as bad as the realization of looking back on great opportunities you never took.  Don’t be satisfied with telling stories others have lived.  Write your own story, your way.

3.  Believe.

What you believe either weakens you or makes you stronger.  If you want to give yourself the best gift you could ever receive, believe in yourself.

The foundation of the success you desire is not based on being in a certain place, at a certain level of achievement, or a combination of external factors; it is simply a mindset.  Success is an attitude that comes from powerful beliefs and empowering thoughts.  What you think and believe about your life directly determines how you feel, what actions you take, and what you ultimately achieve.

Believing takes practice, but it also makes the impossible possible.  Is it worth the effort?  Absolutely!  Read The Success Principles.

4.  Take it slow, but GO!

Yes, take a step, and another.  Keep going!  Achievement involves lots of doing.  What you achieve is based on what you believe AND what you act upon, not just what you believe.  You’ve got to take your beliefs and put persistent effort into them.

There is no progress without action.  What is not started today is never finished by tomorrow.  Some of the greatest ideas and dreams die young.  Why?  Because the genius behind the idea or dream fails to GO forward with it – they think about it, but never DO anything about it.

Just remember, no action always results in a 100% failure rate.  So get into action now and begin moving in the right direction.  After you get started every step thereafter gets easier and easier, until what once had seemed light years away is suddenly standing right in front of you.  Read The Power of Habit.

5.  Accept that failure is possible and necessary.

As Winston Churchill once said, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Failure is necessary.  On the path toward success you may encounter many failures, but YOU are NOT a failure.  Failures are simply stepping stones that slowly uncover the correct path forward, one slippery step at a time.  You can’t get anywhere without these steps.

So don’t wake up at eighty years of age sighing over what you should have tried but didn’t because you were scared to fail.  Just do it and be willing to fail and learn along the way.  Very few people get it right on the first shot.  In fact, most people fail to get it right on the first twenty shots.  If what you did today didn’t turn out as you had hoped, tomorrow is a new opportunity to try again and build upon what you’ve learned.

And remember, in the end the greatest thing about your journey is not so much where you stand at any given time, as it is about what direction you’re moving…

Closing Thoughts

Don’t be afraid of facing your fears.  They’re not as scary as you think, and they’re not here to stop you.  They’re here to let you know that what you want is worth fighting for.

Your turn…

What has fear stopped you from doing?  What’s one fear that you know is holding you back?  Please let us know by leaving a comment below.

Photo by: Alessandro Pautasso


  1. diana says

    My father fears everything, my mother fears nothing and cannot understand the emotion of fear. She thinks that we are the ones “lacking”, somehow “sick” because of this, while I know that she is the one who is lacking because she does not feel this normal human emotion.

    Meanwhile, I have the legacy of carrying not only my fear but hers (unexpressed) as well. And I am not a youngster, I’m almost 60. I have been thru panic attacks, agoraphobia, anxiety. But I also managed to bring two wonderful children in the world and raise them practically as a single mom. So you can get over this.

    Still learning every day though. Fear never goes away, but it can be dealt with.

  2. says

    Very wise words in a well written post. Fear is our great protector but all too often it overpowers us, we have to find a way of getting passed it. Getting beyond fear expands the comfort zone, and you do get to the point that you wonder what you were scared about. Get positive inputs every day and shut out the negativity around you.

  3. David Rapp says

    Fear rules my marriage, my work and my social life. I cannot find a way to embrace it, conquer it or make it back down. Counseling has not helped.

    Declaring a goal only makes you more of a target in my experience. And trying to find help, support, or advice is daunting. Hope is a marketing term for a mathematical improbability. Discover your dream, write it down, make your plans and stay under cover. And remember this, strangers are more apt to help you than your loved ones.

    Not getting too religious, but Jesus states 256 times “Do not be afraid.” That is all I cling to now.

  4. says

    @Allan Nielsen: So well stated. I’m in 100% agreement with everything you said. And yes, it does help.

    @diana: Thanks for sharing your story. Life is indeed a continuous learning experience. The challenges our closest relationships place on us can be confusing at times, but that’s part of living. It sounds like you’re doing quite well for yourself. =)

    @Sally: Spot on!

    @David Rapp: I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling. Just know that fear can be overcome as long as you maintain the attitude you declared in the last line of you comment. Stay strong. No fear.

  5. says

    Number 3 really hit home for me. I have a fear of change in my life but what I need to keep remembering is that staying where I am in life could be just as scary as change itself.

  6. Carol says

    Fear is something that used to control my life. I grew up in an alcoholic house and fear was the overriding influence of my existence. What-if’s ruled my life; I was paralyzed by them. I found a program that helped rid me of this and give me a path towards truly living. Fear robs you of living in the present. What-if’s and doubt are the ghosts that fear causes. I found a simple solution…Faith. To me it started with the faith of a Higher Power, God, who can be Anything we want it to be. I started taking small steps and saying a mantra over and over again: “Faith will always overcome Fear”. Faith doesn’t just include “God”, it also includes Yourself, others and all aspects of life. I realized that I had no control over things that happen, only over myself and my thoughts and actions. I can chose to accept and surrender to life’s challenges and learn from them. This is not a bad thing, it does not mean to accept things that are unacceptable or hurtful. It means to face reality and find a way to live your life within your true spiritual self. Look to Yourself and ask and answer those important questions about who you are , and who you want to be. Don’t let others decide for you, simply because you are too afraid to try.

  7. ladypoet says

    I have my driver’s license yet I am scared to buy a car and drive. I have owned a car and drove sporadically. I have missed out on a lot of opportunities such as a better job.

  8. Jason says

    Fear of having dreams and goals being too intimidating. Like when I get on the right path, I feel like it’s going to be too much for me to handle..

  9. says

    The foundation of my procrastination is based in fear. “Do I have enough data to take action on?” is something I’ve asked myself dozens of times, unsure of if pushing forward too early would hinder my efforts.

    Tips #4 and #5 are what were able to help me push past that flaw; letting me step forward with more courage and less data.

  10. flowergirl says

    This spoke to my heart. I am divorced after 35 years of marriage and lots of hurt and lies. I am trying to get the courage to date again. Thanks for helping me to think about who I used to be and what I need to focus on. I really want to change my life.

  11. krista says

    Sometimes you just have to ask yourself… what is the worst that can happen? Also when the worst does happen… it should be a relief…cause then you don’t have the anxiety of worrying about it.

  12. Cathy says

    I have a lot of fear. I’m 35 and still I don’t have a stable job because I’m afraid to fail in an interview. I want to go abroad to seek a greener pasture but i’m afraid to fall into a trap with a bad employer. All of these issues stop me in making a move. Thank you so much for the inspiration. All the best.

  13. M says

    I suffer from social anxiety, and it has stopped me from doing all the things I really want. I am a big fan of your site, it gives me the inspiration I need to push myself forward, and it is helping me overcome my biggest fear slowly but surely.

  14. johnny says

    Fear of people. Difficult to even step out of house. How to meet and greet if a known one is seen. Practising decency, but oversmart bragging guys disappoint. Not able to go for jogging or a walk due to this.
    Not able to make friends or contain them. Not having charming persona that can attract hurts. Trusted ones betrayed and brought tears. Bad friends, jealous officemates, ignoring seniors, my own sadness or poor self esteem and growing fears … lack of sleep poor time mngt increasing responsibilities and tasks… things are simply not coming in line..

  15. tina says

    Hi all!

    It’s nice to read your posts, it makes me feel I am not the only one facing this emotion as a challenge. I am 40 now and finally found the focus to follow my heart and do what really inspires me. I did not think of it anymore as an unrealistic dream but as a choice where no one should tell me if it’s good or not. I just felt I am halfway my life and I should take action or I would become sad of not trying what makes me happy! That really woke me up!
    For the first time in my life I could hold on to that focus without being swept away by fear or guilt. Not even the feeling of failure can bring me down. I am actually doing all what i need to achieve my dream job – and life. Some inspiring friends who did it also showed me the proof that it is possible if u only hold on. It’s a way of life!

    I am single and don’t have lots of good friends or family, but the honest few are enough. Cause I see clearly I only create my life, as an artist does create…and if I am responsible for it I can just learn from my mistakes…so there is only hope.

    Good luck to u all out there !!

  16. pam shadbolt says

    This is such a brilliant website and understand what fear means to me. I have been divorced for 10 years and have faced so many unknowns, I have overcome many of my fears and I’m so happy being single. My next adventure is to go on holiday to India with my daughter next year. I shall carry on reading your site to reinforce the skills I have learned.

  17. Kate M. says

    Marc and Angel, your posts so often speak right to me. It’s like you read my thoughts then blog about it. I have been afraid of so many things I don’t know where to start. When I was young I wouldn’t try out for sports or anything where people would see me for fear they would laugh at me or talk bad about me. I did try out for cheer-leading when I was in middle school. I thought I was good but I wasn’t picked and it’s the last thing I remember trying to do.

    I got better as I got in my 20s. I even was a speaker and announcer on stage in front of hundreds of people when I was 23. At 25 I married the love of my life, had 3 kids with him then after only 7 short years of marriage he was unfaithful and I didn’t even think to try and forgive him. It’s been a real rocky road ever since. I am now almost 60 years old. I’ve been remarried several times plus had quite a few other relationships and it just doesn’t work out for me. I am real afraid to fully trust anyone. I also have a big problem showing gratitude. I feel it but have trouble showing it. I don’t know why I’m afraid to show it. Could you write about it sometime? I will get better. Your website helps me so much. Thanks for what you do for others.

  18. Ve says

    I feel like I need to print this out and read it daily. Especially #2, that was a good push to encourage me to keep on keeping on.

    Every so often, especially as of late, I think about a version of #2 & 5 that I read in the comments of one of my favorite blogs, Captain Awkward, the part within the asterisks particularly (emphasis mine):

    “It’s pretty common to feel anxious about leaving even a bad relationship, job, or living situation because of the possibility that whatever alternative(s) you’re considering may turn out badly. Unlike someone for whom life has only ever been rosy, you have no difficulty picturing bad outcomes! ****But bear in mind, where you are now is already sucky! That’s a known thing, and it is not going to spontaneously change itself for the better.****

    Which means you are choosing between Option A (staying put) which is guaranteed to be unpleasant and has no upside potential to become wonderful, and Option B, which will probably have at least a few bumpy (or at least wobbly) bits as you find your feet and may even need to evolve into Options C and then D or E or whatever before you find just the right combo of job and living situation BUT which will probably still be better right off the bat than living with a physically and emotionally abusive parent who deliberately undermines your confidence so making any kind of life yourself will always seem really daunting, AND which has the upside potential of leading you to actual happiness.”

  19. Liz says

    Fear of leaving my marriage due to economic conditions. I love my home, my neighbors and friends, and my community. If I leave I won’t be able to afford to live here. I am in my mid 60s with no pension due to being a stay-at-home Mom of 3 kids with special needs. I am starting to have health problems (not severe) and am terrified of not being able to have the finances and health care that I need. I am miserable in with my husband but don’t know if it would be worse if I left. I did live alone years ago and loved it…have no fear of actually being alone…just the finances.

  20. Sharon says

    Thank you for such an inspiring post Marc and Angel. #9 spoke volumes to me. For me it was my parents and family who hurt me time and time again. With myself always jumping through hoops; trying to prove my worth to them. Wanting to be accepted by them and included in the family unit. I have suffered constant rejection from them since early childhood and has continued my entire life. My mother even called me evil once. I am 43 years old now. Trying repeatedly to be accepted by someone who doesn’t like you is like constantly throwing yourself under a bus. It really, really hurts. It wasn’t until last year that I decided to accept that my parents, my family will never like me or accept me. I should note that I have never done drugs, or stolen anything,been to jail, been promiscuous, unemployed, don’t abuse alcohol etc. So their behavior was always confusing for me and it’s hard to understand the reason for their rejection. It has been such a relief to walk away and take away the power they had to hurt me. They can’t hurt me anymore because I have walked away from them.

    All this had set the tone for my life so far. With low self-esteem I had been seeking approval and acceptance from outside myself. I just wanted to be included. I just wanted a family. I had given others the power to tell me if I am good enough and when they took that away; it crushed me. I still wasn’t ‘good enough’. The universe has answered me repeatedly by putting this painful lesson in my path until I learned. I believe now that I have heard and understood this lesson. Self-acceptance is still an issue but I am no longer trying to find it externally. I am a work in progress.

  21. Jacqueline says

    Marc and Angel! You blow me away on a daily basis! All too often the fear that we feel and struggle with is not even our own- it is the fear that our loved ones push upon us and pretend is concern. I was in a five year relationship with a man whose fear almost strangled my love of travel. I ended things with him despite my fear of never being loved again, and three months later- I am living MY dream of traveling through Asia (Korea and Japan) and teaching English as a Second Language to fund my experiences. This is MY life and if I am not afraid of it, how can I let the fears of others influence my decisions? The answer is- I can’t. Thank you both for all that you do!

  22. JD says

    This is really helpful for me right now, I’m on my way to the airport and I’m terrified of flying. But I need to go home to see my family, and I really need to believe that I can get on the plane. So thanks for the positive read :)

  23. C.K. says

    I am 28 years old and I’m foreign. I have an undergraduate in mining and mettalurgical engineering, a master’s at mining engineer, and a master’s in mineral and energy economics. I’m coming from a fairly wealthy family and I always had what I wanted. Now I am doing my PhD in the US. And for the first time of my life I am afraid. I am afraid that I am not as smart as other people and that keeps me back from taking my qual exams (even though I have better grades than most of the PhD students and I graduated 4th from my undergrad). And I am afraid of the future. I can’t imagine how it is to not have someone taking care of your bills, I am afraid that I won’t be able to maintain the same level of life, I am afraid that I won’t be as successful as my father (cardiologist). I am just so comfortable here and now. And now I am stuck.. not advancing with my PhD and with a life full of potential. I’ve heard that the first step is to realize that you are afraid. Well, I am scared to death. I hope this article will be the beginning of overcoming my fears.. thank you

  24. AshV says

    These articles have really helped me change my perspective, right now I feel like I’m gone to a very dark and lonely place, maybe it is my childish fears that hold me back from taking the leap, like I’ve trapped my soul in the abyss of fear and failure, guess I should try no matter what people tell me, to fail doing something you have a passion for is much more rewarding than ever wondering what could have been hey, life is such.. Thanks for the motivational messages though, I will likely apply them and whatever happens I can safely say on my deathbed “at least I tried”
    Thank you again

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