I have seen a lot of people not move forward because they keep holding themselves back, citing a variety of reasons. But what I’ve realized when I really looked at what was keeping them stuck is, the common denominator of their experiences has always been fear. And realizing this has made me wonder, is there a formula we can use to alleviate fear when it rears its ugly head?
Now, I want to be clear: We will all continue to feel fear when we encounter challenges in our lives. So, it’s probably not very realistic to seek out a formula that completely eliminates fear. However, we can certainly find ways to bring forth the courage to do things in our lives that are heartfelt and to get through challenges in order to live out our ultimate purpose. We can develop strategies that get us past the fear of failure and towards manifesting our dreams. I believe we can let go of fear, connect with the love of what is most important to each of us … and trust ourselves to move forward.
I talk a lot about energy and how it flows through the universe, and that concept relates to fear as well. Because, energy can be positive …or it can be negative, which is why we need to be careful of how we think. We can create what is on our minds, good or bad. So, why wallow in things that are negative, or fear a horrible outcome when you can instead fantasize about life’s amazing possibilities? It’s very easy to get caught up in the fear of something we attempt not going well. But this practice ultimately paralyzes us from great accomplishment, which leads us to feel depressed about our lives. And what fun is that?
The process of creating my debut Spirit of Oya album has actually been a great lesson for me in overcoming fear. I have been thinking about this CD for three years, but I didn’t actually get serious until earlier this year. When I would perform, people would ask to buy my CD, but I didn’t have one to offer. I had certainly been writing songs and fantasizing about how wonderful it could be. But until I truly DECIDED that I was going to get it done, COMMITED to the process and took the ACTION STEPS necessary to bring it to fruition, it was not going to happen.
On my birthday in January, I decided, with the help of my dear friend Marta and my now co-producer Ryan Cross – with whom I often perform – that this was the year! As I was blowing out my candle at a simple birthday dinner, I made a wish: I would complete my CD in 2012. I made a commitment to myself and to Ryan and told Marta to hold me accountable as a witness. I could not let myself down, nor could I let down those two lovely people who had been and would continue to be so supportive. But most importantly, I could not let my spirit down. I felt the need to finally create my own album in my soul, my gut and in my bones; the need was so deep that I had to honor it.
But even after I declared I was going to do it, putting everything into action wasn’t necessarily easy. After I committed, there were many challenges that came up. There was other work, things happening in my life, the budget and how many thousands of dollars it was going to take to produce. And I was also working on my website (and that was a project in and of itself!). I wanted a certain type of studio that was going to allow for us to record all together at one time. And I wanted to work with the best musicians and to create the best project ever without spending millions of dollars. Then, of course, I had a lot of songs and had to narrow down the list to my favorites then write, re-write, edit … the list of things I had to consider went on and on and was really overwhelming.
I thought, “Oh my gosh … what have I committed to? How am I ever going to get this done?”
With so many concerns weighing on my mind, I decided to take two days off, go away and get a hotel with peaceful scenery, away from the office work, paperwork and productions that I would get wrapped up in on a daily basis. I escaped from the constantly-ringing office phone, from talking to the next corporate gig advisor, director on a show I was working on and any brides or grooms hiring me for their wedding.
Now, I am so incredibly thankful for these jobs and love having the opportunity to work with all the people I get to work with on a daily basis. However, one thing I have learned is that if you have something you really want to do, if you do not step away — even from the wonderful things — for a bit, you will never get this “something” done. Because, you will have no time, and the things you enjoy so much will compete with what your heart has been aching for years to achieve.
I knew I was never going to be able to get organized unless I got away and really focused. With only my music and my laptop, I went away and looked at everything I was facing. I looked at my pre-production, production and post production budgets. I looked at the list of 24 songs that I had already narrowed down from many more and chose the 10 that I felt most faithfully honored Spirit of Oya. And I had real conversations with the people that I would need to work with to get the project completed.
And, a funny thing happened: Once I took the project seriously, the project started taking me seriously. Doors started opening. Amazing musicians that I could only dream up were magically interested and available on the exact dates that I chose, and my dream studio appeared, which would allow for all of us to perform at one time. Mysteriously, a song that I had not even considered appeared on my laptop. The hook was on my computer, but there were no lyrics. It turned into “Voodoo,” which is now considered by many who have heard it to be one of the strongest songs on the album. It discusses the fear, the negative thoughts and things we can do to ourselves that prevent us from manifesting what we say we want in our lives. The lyrics encourage us stop blaming others for holding us back and to take a stand and take responsibility if we want to rise. And this song with a beautiful message was created while I was putting all my energy into nurturing this project.
So many other important things came together in the space created by these days away, including choosing the official dates to complete the different stages of the project. And it was in this decision in particular that I had to hurdle the most fear. Choosing these dates meant I was officially putting together an album. And then sharing them with my co-producer and others involved in the project meant there was no turning back.
As I put my plan to make a CD into action, my fear took a lot of forms. But it came to me most often as a series of thoughts and questions that kept swirling through my head and threatened to postpone my dreams. I thought, “Maybe I could use some more time …” But how much more time? And if I took more time, when was I ever going to get this done?
I also thought, “Maybe I should wait until everything in my life and career is perfectly aligned to do this.” But I had already been waiting three years, so would I extend it to four, five, six …when would the timing ever be “perfect”? What else was I going to put before the important priority of making an album?
I had many other fearful thoughts like the above, all of which would just delay my dreams even more. I realized I had to get over myself, and get over these negative thoughts. And I called upon an important fact I realized many years ago: We will always get better as long as we keep learning and growing; but we are always good enough to do what we need to do RIGHT NOW. Yes, a year or two from now might be better timing. But why should we put off doing great things with our lives?
I overcame my fear of putting out my debut album, because I decided I just could not hide my light now, hoping for a better tomorrow. I focused on the wonderful things happening and drowned out the fearful voice that was saying, “This could be so much better if you just put it off for another few months or a year.” And then, this wonderful CD project just started to come together.
When I look back on that moment of decision, when I just said, “I will not give into the fear,” I sometimes think about what would NOT have happened if I had listened to fear’s voice, which was screaming, “It’s not good enough!” And I am so joyful. Because, the fact that I refused to listen to all fear’s excuses and negativity gave me so many magical moments, wonderful relationships and amazing experiences. And I have learned so much and grown so much through recording and producing my own album, because I let it happen and I pushed through. It was the “right time,” because I decided it was the right time and made a 100% commitment to the process.
I am one of the biggest dreamers and supporters of others’ dreams. But I also know that we have to work to realize them. I definitely believe in divine intervention and magical manifestations, but I also believe that those things really are encouraged to happen only when we take specific steps to bring them to fruition. Some people say the things I do are magical, but I know the truth: It was not by mediating alone that my dreams came true.
There will be times when those around you will say things to scare you. Often, they are just projecting their own fears, so we have to be careful who we listen to. But ultimately, no matter what your dream is, it is your responsibility to DECIDE, “I am going to do this,” COMMIT to doing it so you are holding yourself accountable and TAKE ACTION STEPS to make sure you do whatever you must do to achieve your goals.
Don’t hold back your light and say, “Wow, it would be great to do this.” Simply expressing your desire isn’t going to bring you what you want. A child might say, “I want to be a doctor when I grow up.” But if that child doesn’t one day enroll in a medical program or go to medical school, that desire is not going to be fulfilled. Sure, some things do come in divine time. But some things need a little action as well.
If you know you have the talent for something special, don’t let fear paralyze you from living out your dream. Don’t let fear of not being good enough, or that voice that says, “Now’s not the right time” overwhelm you. You are getting stronger and better each day, month and year … but why should the fact that you’re still growing and evolving hold you back from sharing your light, love and talent … today?
With my album, I had two choices: 1) do it; 2) don’t do it. And I faced the same choice when I made the decision to start a career in music and the Arts. And both these major decisions have just been steps on my long journey of personal and professional growth.
You are up against a similar decision with your own special talent: You can either go for it, or get stuck in your fear. And here’s the thing: Sometimes fear is there to protect you from getting hurt. But sometimes, we have to push fear aside and go for our dreams – make a higher commitment and raise the bar. Even if you fail, you can and will survive, and even better, you will learn, grow and THRIVE.
The worst-case scenario is that you will try, and you will not immediately succeed. But each time this happens, it is just a little defeat if you recognize it for what it is: an enlightening moment that can teach you important lessons that will help you move forward with renewed strength and confidence. If you reframe what you perceive as “failures” as “opportunities” for growth and learning that will help you be even better in the future, you will WIN.
So, move ahead with joyful confidence and don’t let fear overtake your spirit. Instead, embrace your talent and fully commit to taking action steps to win and manifest that dream!