Thankfully there is simple solution to this and it comes, as most of the good ideas we discuss here do, from stoicism. It is called pre-meditato malorum, literally the pre-meditation of evils. This ancient technique has since been developed and popularised by Tim Ferriss, most notably in his excellent TED talk to which I have linked above. This post does not attempt to out shine Tim's talk, rather highlight it for you and make some notes on the structure to aid memory. This process consists of 3 stages:
What if...? Define, Prevent & Repair
Start out by stating your goal, so for Tim's example this would be taking a break from his business for an extended holiday. Write this at the top of the page. Now consider all the things that you fear, are holding you back from doing this or just everything else that could possibly go wrong. Really go into worst case scenarios. This part of the process on its own is plenty powerful as often our fears appear much smaller once written down and removed from your imagination onto a cold page. Next, for each fear, describe how you could prevent it happening and then repair the situation were the worst to happen. Again you are taking abstract fears and turning them into practical problems to solve, many of which can be done quite easily. This process rapidly shows you how small many of your fears are and how preventable or reversible they are. This soon helps you loosen the anchors that have been slowing or halting you.
What might be the benefits of an attempt/partial success?
This is getting into systems thinking and highlights the benefits of this approach (check out my previous post on this dichotomy). Even if you don't reach whatever goal it is you are hoping for there could be benefits of the attempt. Often this will be related to learning or building resilience but could also include increase your network, learning new skills or just gaining peace of mind for having tried. By defining these you are highlighting the positive aspects of an attempt which helps to outweigh any of the fears. You are also removing fear of failure as now even a failure is a success.
The cost of inaction (financially, emotionally, physically - 6 months/1 year/3 years)
This is an element that we rarely consider. Deciding not to do something is still a decision and every decision carries a cost. Whilst there might be fears and potential downsides to chasing your goal there will be plenty in play for if you decide to stay as you are. You need to consider these. by doing so you realise the additional motivation for action whilst also seeing your entire situation for what it is. You are now in a position to make a far more informed choice.
And that is it. Working through this strategy will allow you to break free from any anchors that may have been holding you back, giving you the push required to properly set off after your goals. Pour yourself a decent red or brew a pot of coffee and grab a notepad. Go into detail on these areas and really explore what these fears and costs might be. Defining them robs them of their debilitating power, allowing you to see them for what they really are.