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Facing the Unknown

4 steps for moving past fear and achieving your dreams.

I was having a very bad year. I’d been laid off and my grandparents had passed away. They were the hub of the family and my grandmother’s cooking brought us all together. She could cook anything, from the smoothest panna cotta to the most mouth-watering lasagna—and her pizza was really something special. She’d start in the morning, making the dough from scratch. By evening, she’d have a dozen large pizzas with different toppings, and the whole family would gather to feast. We’d eat until we were ready to burst. Then we’d haggle over the leftovers, making sure no one took more than their share. Those cold slices of pizza tasted great the next day, but I couldn’t wait that long—I usually got up in the middle of the night to finish mine.

So when grandmother passed away, I had an idea, and it was a no-brainer: I’d open a restaurant and serve that same pizza. That way, I’d honor her memory and preserve her culinary heritage—and, of course, I’d be a huge success.

It was a great idea—but that’s all it was. I knew nothing about opening a restaurant or even working in one. Even worse, grandmother had left no recipes—she’d never used any!

I had a clear vision of what the restaurant would look like—I could see the walls, the menu, even the awning—but I had no clue where to start. I had a goal, but no idea how to reach it.

That is when the fear set in.

In my mind, I saw my restaurant the size of a pin, miles away in a vast field of black, and the negative thoughts took over. Most restaurants close within a year! What are you thinking? You can’t do this! There was no bridge to cross the abyss, just black.

Months passed. I knew I had to find a way—but I was stuck in a nightmare of unknowns and surrounded by thoughts of failure. I was moving, but only inside the circle of fear I had created. Fear had me paralyzed, but I didn’t even know it. When you are in a state of fear, there is a false sense of action. Your head is spinning and your mind is racing from one negative thought to another, but you are going nowhere.

Something had to change. I needed to find another approach to move me closer to my goal. I started to address the fear by acknowledging it and filling the abyss with knowledge. This shift of focus allowed me to concentrate on something other than my fear. I started researching, and soon I was finding out all I could about the restaurant business from friends, family, strangers, books, and classes.

Before long, I’d practically forgotten about the black hole, the sinking feeling in my stomach. Within a year, with the help of family and friends, I opened the restaurant. It was a dream come true.

Eight years later—after getting married and forming a family, having my customers become my friends and seeing them get married and have kids of their own—it was time to move on. I sold the restaurant.

But now when I have doubts and fear, I look back on that black abyss that seemed so impossible to cross, and I think: I did it once. I can do it again.

4 Steps to Getting Past the Fear

1. Acknowledge your feelings. Step back and admit that fear has a grip on you. Only when we recognize our feelings do they begin to loosen their hold on us. Realize that you are more than your feelings. You are not your fear.

2. Define your goals. Make a list of what you want to accomplish. and all the steps you need to take. Don’t worry about any large gaps in your knowledge: half the fun is learning the ins and outs of your new project.

3. Take action. Take a baby step. Start on the easiest task. This will get the ball rolling. Action is key to diminishing fear’s paralyzing grip.

4. Don’t give up. There will be many obstacles along the way, and things may be even more difficult then you anticipate, but getting past these challenges is key to achieving your goals.

Don’t let fear stand in the way of your dreams. I didn’t. Now, let’s go grab a slice!

This story first appeared on Rewire Me. To view the original article, click here.


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