How to Live Your Dream When You’re Scared to Death

This is a guest post by Jeff Goins. Jeff is a writer who lives in Nashville. He works for Adventures in Missions and recently released an eBook called You Are a Writer. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

There is a tragedy in our world today. Most people aren’t living their dreams, and the reason is simple: fear. They’re scared to be who they are.

Photo courtesy of ©

When you endeavor to find your life’s work, there is a lot at risk:

  • You could fail.
  • You could lose the respect of your friends.
  • You could go broke.

You could mess up in a hundred different ways. But—and this is important—you could also succeed. And until you start living into your calling, you’re robbing the world of a gift.

After years of procrastinating, I finally pursued my dream. I decided to become a writer. To my surprise, I saw success far more quickly than expected: I launched a popular blog, got a publishing contract, and found my true fans—all within a year.

How did this happen? Simple. I believed in the dream before it happened. I didn’t wait for fear to go away; I started living into the reality I was longing for.

If you’re going to live and lead intentionally, you’ll have to do the same. There are three steps you need to take if you’re going to pursue your passion.

Step 1: Declare it. Although I’ve written for most of my life, I never considered myself a writer—not until recently.

When a friend asked what my dream was and I told him I didn’t have one, he said, “That’s funny… because I would’ve thought it was to be a writer.” I said that was probably true.

Then he said something I’ll never forget:

You don’t have to want to be a writer; you are a writer. You just need to write.”

The words resonated in my soul. I realized that before I could expect others to believe something about me, first I would have to believe it myself.

Step 2: Believe it. Friends and family often notice our gifts before we do. They acknowledge the talents and resources we’ve been doubting and dismissing.

The only way to find your dream is to trust the gifts you’ve been given. I’m not talking about a misguided “name it and claim it” philosophy. You need to accept the value you offer, not invent it. But at some point, you need to stop doubting yourself.

There is a word for this: it’s called faith.

Before the ancient Hebrews saw the Promised Land, they believed in it. They trusted in a place they hadn’t yet seen, which brought them through the desert and into their destiny.

You need to grasp the possibility of achieving your dream before it happens. You’ll have to believe it before you see it.

Step 3: Do it. A few years ago, my wife and I attended a concert, and halfway through the show, a man clumsily spilled beer on her coat. I complained to one of the ushers, and he warned the man, but no further action was taken.

Later, I went to the bathroom and returned to a crying wife. She wanted to leave. On our way out of the auditorium, she told me the man had harassed her while I was gone. I was outraged.

Turning around, I marched back into the auditorium, and confronted the man. It was, honestly, one of the scariest things I’ve done as an adult.

I hadn’t stood up to a bully since the second grade, and there I was—in front of a towering, muscle-bound beefcake, calling him an idiot.

With my heart racing and my palms sweating, I demanded respect and an apology. And then something incredible happened.

He said he was sorry.

In that moment, I learned an important lesson: until we act, our values are just dreams. I believed in my wife’s honor—in theory—but until I stood up for her, it was just a good idea.

This is an essential takeaway for all of us called to meaningful work. Although we are not merely what we do, we become what we practice. And if you’re practicing insecurity and fear, what does that make you?

If you have a dream or calling you’re not yet living into, it’s time to get to work:

  1. Declare you are what you’re waiting to be.
  2. Believe in your dream before you see it.
  3. And then do it.

Remember: Until you start living it, you’re only dreaming.

Question: When was the last time you pursued a passion in spite of fear? Leave a comment by clicking here.

Want to Launch Your Own Blog

or upgrade to a self-hosted WordPress blog? It’s easier than you think! Watch my free, twenty-minute screencast. I show you exactly how to do it, step-by-step. You don’t need any technical knowledge. Click here to get started. Watch My Free Screencast
I’m no longer running comments on my blog. For more information regarding this decision, please read this post.