02 Feb How to Stop Making Decisions Out of Fear (+Worksheet)
You want to talk about fear-based decision-making? Here’s how I missed out on over $80k because, fear.
A friend of mine was casting a Coca Cola commercial years ago and asked me to come help keep things organized. At the end of what seemed like a day that would never end, I jumped on screen and, jokingly, auditioned. I didn’t mean for it to be included, and after having seen some of the models and actors that had come through, I didn’t think they would even take it seriously if it did.
But, as luck would have it, they asked me back.
The second audition was more of an interview format with some of the big shots behind the commercial. I remember feeling sick because I was grouped in with 3 of the most beautiful creatures I had ever seen. My friend reminded me not to puke and that if I got it, it’d be international and I’d get a lot of money.
They called me back in for a third audition.
My friend confirmed that getting this call back pretty much meant I got the commercial.
Well, I never did get it. I sat in my car a block away from the audition, called the director and told him I couldn’t make it because someone had broken into my house and my roommate was scared in her closet. Wtf?
I was so scared of messing up, looking weird on camera, and just falling flat on my face that I made this ridiculous excuse to avoid it.
I swore up and down I would never audition for anything on camera again.
So that wasn’t just a sprinkle of fear that affected my decision-making there; it was a full-blown tsunami. If there was one thing that could keep me from making stupid amounts of money at the silly age of 18, it was fear.
When we let fear rule our decision-making, we relinquish control over our lives, one decision at a time. Little by little, we become more reactive and less proactive. We don’t participate in the direction of the path we take, we just take it, without asking questions.
So what, then, is the opposite of fear-based decision-making?
That means owning your choices and confidently making decisions based on strategy, love, and growth.
8 Signs You’re Making Decisions Out of Fear
The first thing you have to do if you want to stop fear-based decision-making is learn to identify the situations in which you are letting fear control you.
And yes, it’s a lot easier said than done. It requires brutal honesty and self-transparency. It means you really have to open up and allow yourself to get a glimpse of your inner scaredy cat. You’re putting those weaknesses on display and sometimes they’re not that easy to digest.
But this is crucial. You want to stop making decisions out of fear? You have to identify those fears first, so you know what you’re up against.
So here are 8 things to look for in your decision-making process. Some are easy to identify, others are gut feelings, and a few are inevitable battles we have to fight that are simply part of growing up.
1. Fear of change and the unknown
You’re afraid of things changing because if they change, you don’t know what they’ll change to. Because the unknown is fucking terrifying and leaping into a black abyss just makes you want to freeze and turn inward.
2. Fear of judgement or rejection
Fear of being judged or rejected plays a huge role in fear-based decision-making. You don’t act, or worse, you act poorly, when you know you’re up for the plank. You’ll turn down amazing opportunities and go out of your way to avoid interacting with anyone who may make you feel like you’re not good enough.
3. Fear of failure
You’re afraid of failing so you just don’t try. Or you take the easy way out. You never challenge yourself or push yourself out of your comfort zone because you know it might mean not succeeding and not meeting whatever standards or expectations you or someone you value has set for you.
4. Fear of scarcity
You act on a scarcity driven mindset. You take what you can because you’re afraid there won’t be anything else left. You settle for good enough because, what if nothing better comes along? Your decisions are bound to the fear of there not being enough out there and grabbing a hold of whatever you can.
5. You choose the thing that feels most ‘safe’
Something warm and fuzzy happens inside of us when we make a decision because it’s the most safe, even when we try to justify it to make it make sense. It feels like you’re running down a street in pouring rain and you finally get to your front porch and your mom is there waiting with a blanket and hot cocoa. This feels safe.
6. You’re suddenly giving up what feels like ‘too much’
Another fear-based decision-making red flag is when we sacrifice what feels like too much. Here you’re basically saying, Ok, ok, but just don’t leave, or don’t fire me. You’re giving the extra unpaid hours to your boss because you’re afraid he’ll fire you otherwise. Or you give up on fighting for Thursday date night, even though you really, really want them, because you’re afraid the nagging will drive him away and so silence is better than him leaving.
7. You have that ‘gut feeling’ you’re not making the right choice
Both 5 and 6 are feelings, but so is this. It’s that gut feeling, buried deep beneath the bullshit you feed yourself to rationalize the decisions that you’re making – the decisions out of fear. It’s there, screaming, no this isn’t right, this isn’t what you want, you’re so much better than this, and simply no, don’t do this.
And finally, 8. You spiral into negative self-talk
You know this is happening because your fear-based decision-making is followed by really shitty self-talk. You tell yourself you didn’t deserve it any way or that you’re not good enough and that you’d fail if you even tried.
This is how we rationalize fear-based decision-making. We literally tell ourselves no, you did this for the right reasons, don’t worry.
So it’s easy to see how strong of a role fear plays in our lives, and more importantly, in the decisions we make. It comes to us in so many forms, on such different occasions, that we’re often blindsided by it, which makes it’s easier to give in.
But remember, that’s how we relinquish control of our lives. That’s how we stop having a say in the directions our lives take.
And if that’s the case, what the fuck is the point of living?
How Should You Base Your Decisions?
It’s obvious that fear shouldn’t be a driver for your decision-making because it either leads you down the slow, comfortable road, it stunts your growth, or worse, it sends you down a path not meant for you at all.
So then what should you base your decisions on, if not fear?
Love, strategy, and growth.
- Love: Love for yourself, for others, and for life in general.
- Strategy: Don’t be reactive. Be strategic about the choices you make so they can take you where you want to go.
- Growth: Focus on growth, progress, and improvement.
You should always keep these three ideas in sharp focus when it comes to decision-making and you should know that although they’re not the complete solution, they’re definitely a big part of that puzzle.
So Here’s What You Do
You want to take control of the choices you make. You want to act confidently, stand behind your decisions, and you want to OWN them. You don’t want to make fear-based decisions, you want to make empowered ones.
First, ask yourself why? Really focus on self-transparency and vulnerability. You have to ask yourself those really hard questions. What am I afraid of? What’s keeping me from making this choice. Why am I so scared to take this leap forward? Why am I opting for the safe route instead of doing what I really want to do?
You have to be able to identify the root of the fear before you can begin to tackle it. And sure, a lot has to be done after-the-fact, but this labeling process is absolutely crucial to conquering fear-based decision-making.
Then, you want to dig even deeper by getting into detail. What happens if I (blank)? Lay out what most would call the ‘worst-case scenario’. Face it. Draw out the monster so you know exactly what you’re up against.
Once you’ve laid it all out, you then work on the magic of imagination. Meaning, what would happen, hypothetically, if you chose the other option? What if, instead, you chose empowered decision-making over fear-based decision-making? What does that look like? What are the benefits there?
Forget the doubts and the fears and the terrifying worst-case scenarios. Use the what if’s to your advantage. What if you succeed? What if you DO it and it WORKS?
Really allow yourself to envision what this alternative could look like.
Then, once you’ve laid your fears out on the table and you’ve envisioned what it would be like to conquer them, you shift your mindset into framing that empowered decision as your reality.
I know, it can sound super overwhelming, and I can definitely tell you that this isn’t something you snap your fingers and suddenly change without doing the work. This takes practice. It takes digging deep and working those deep roots.
But once you’re able to face your worst case scenario, face your fears and convert them into fuel for more empowered decision-making, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
I put together this awesome worksheet for you that will guide you through these steps into converting fear-based decision-making into empowered decision-making.
Enjoy! Share your thoughts on fear-based decision-making below and share this post with someone who needs it:)