How to Be Courageous (Even If You're Scared Stiff)

What's the secret to life-changing achievement without fear? I hate to tell you this, darlin'—there isn't one.

The only time you act without fear is when you're firmly inside of your comfort zone. Unfortunately, growth and success do not reside in our comfort zones—the magic happens firmly outside of it.

So how do you take action when you're quaking in your boots?

I have one simple approach that has reaped fantastic rewards over the years.

The FIFI Method

The FIFI* Method is what I've used to

The FIFI Method originated about six years ago when I read Chris Guillebeau's story on how he decided to launch his Empire Building Kit. To summarize, he decided to launch the kit, on a train, through North Dakota, with little idea of how he was going to set up the infrastructure for the launch.

Despite not knowing how he was going to launch, let alone if he could launch, Guillebeau committed to his idea and took action, fear be damned.

That's the basis of the FIFI Method: take action, regardless of fear.

The 5 Stages of The FIFI Method

The FIFI Method won't work in all scenarios. If you're not scared, if you're not stretching yourself, then there is no reason to invoke this approach. It only works if, as is attributed to Anaïs Nin, "the risk to remain tight in a bud is more painful than the risk it takes to blossom."

On the other hand, if there's some action that you must take and you're terrified of it, FIFI will work wonders for you.

Stage 1: Setting a Goal, Preferably a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal

Before reaching the point of stretching and being scared, you must have some desire to create change in your life. The FIFI Method works best with what Jim Collins calls a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal, a goal so massive that achieving it will literally change your life.

Some examples of BHAGs are

  • Getting published in an international magazine
  • Starting a business that earns an extra $1000 a month
  • Traveling to a foreign country by yourself

Stage 2: Reaching The Edge of Your Comfort Zone

As you progress towards your BHAG, things may be easy at first. After all, you're smart, you're experienced, and you have resources. No matter what, you never begin progress towards a goal with nothing.

Eventually, though, you run out of what you already have or know. You reach the edge of your comfort zone; everything beyond it is dark, scary, and unknown.

Stage 3: Stalling

At the edge of your comfort zone, you stall. You may procrastinate by working on other projects, you may completely change your focus, or you may work on little, safe tasks tangential to your BHAG.

In this stage, you often find yourself getting frustrated, irritated, or angry with yourself. You know the way forward; you cannot yet take action.

Stage 4: Taking Terrified Action

Eventually, the pain of "remaining in the bud" becomes too great, and you say, "Screw it." You gather your courage, liquid or otherwise, and do the thing that you're most scared of doing.

Stage 5: Distracting Yourself

Immediately after taking action, you may experience abject panic, relief, anxiety, or a handful of other emotions. Oftentimes, you'll find yourself checking for results of your action—for example, if you sent an email to a prominent public figure, you'll find yourself hitting refresh on your inbox every 30 seconds.

You must distract yourself. Your work is done; you have no more influence on the situation. Focusing on the waiting only serves to make you anxious, so go find something else to do.

I'm personally a fan of celebrating the action you took. Whether the action yields the results you're looking for or not is irrelevant—you are already successful because you stretched yourself in the direction of your dreams! So pop that Champagne and celebrate YOU.

Over time, things that were once wet-your-pants scary will become old hat to you, and new challenges will come up. We never stop hitting the edge of our comfort zones; how you handle your fear at that point will determine how big you play in your life.

Over to you

How do you handle fear in your life? Do you dive in or allow yourself to play in the shallows? Share your thoughts in the comments! *"FIFI" stands for "Fuck It and Forget It." Delicate, no?