No matter how old I get Halloween still holds that special magic for me. I loved bobbing for apples when I was a child and carving the pumpkins. My children still enjoy getting dressed up (although it's more teenage zombie than fairy or cute ghost nowadays). Going out trick-or-treating with friends and dressing the house up with giant spiders and plastic bats holds a giddy fascination. I have been known to wear purple velour and a pointed hat on occasion!
With Halloween fresh in our minds, I thought it was the perfect time to think about the scary stuff - not headless horsemen or flesh eating gremlins - the day-to-day stuff that stops us from achieving our goals.
Many years ago I set myself a challenge to take part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). A writing competition to pen 50,000 words in 30 days. I didn't do it. Why? Because I was scared. Scared of failing, scared of taking part, scared of writing drivel, scared of what people may think.
How many times have you allowed your fears to stop you from doing something?
Last year I finally took part in NaNoWriMo, of course this was part of my Resolution Challenge, a year full of resolutions that I had to achieve whilst blogging my progress. It was a fantastic experience and not only did I thoroughly enjoy the event, but I finished with time to spare and the first draft of my debut young adult fantasy novel, Guardians of the Dead.
What had I been so scared of? After the event I understood how valuable the experience was and realised what I had been missing out on because of my fears. Before we can achieve we must first face our demons. My demon looked like me; brown hair, brown eyes, five foot ten with a slight muffin top and laughter lines (I refuse to acknowledge them as wrinkles!)
So how can we do it? How can we do something that scares us? During my year of challenges, I faced several demons, all of them were self-made. Knowing that I was writing my progress here on my blog gave me the strength to get on and do it. I found the confidence to just write and over time I stopped over-analysing myself and my work and began to enjoy it. Once this happened I started to receive feedback from people all over the globe. I'd faced a fear - failure - and came out on the other side unscathed.
It is one of the hardest things to put yourself out there, be it writing a novel, losing weight, joining a group or learning something new. Only when we step over that invisible fear barrier do we start to understand our potential.
When I published my non-fiction book, How I Changed My Life in a Year, I faced my biggest fear of all, a fear that I know stems from a childhood memory. Fear of being laughed at and not being liked. I'm sure this is a fear that many people hold and it's taken me a long time to learn to live with it. Self-work and meditation have helped enormously but when it came to promoting my book I had to simply let go. Let go of fears and put myself out there. Do you know what I found? Positive feedback. Not only was my book received well but the more I promoted, the more I attracted. My book is still in the top ten of Amazon's self-help bestseller list. This may not be the NYT list but for me it's validation that I did something that scared me - and survived!
What can you do today that scares you? Maybe you've done something that scared you and also survived, I'd love to hear about it.