What scares you most? How much happier, stronger, and more productive would you be if you stopped giving into your fears and instead faced them down, one by one? Noelle Hancock explores these questions in her memoir entitled My Year with Eleanor.
Shortly before her 29th birthday, Noelle was laid off from her fast-paced, high-paying job as a celebrity gossip blogger and suffering from extreme burnout and social anxiety. Previously a confident and social woman, she found herself feeling anxious and afraid of almost everything. It got so bad that even the prospect of simply leaving her house felt impossibly overwhelming.
While job searching online at a local coffee shop one day, Noelle read one of Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quotes scribbled on a chalkboard: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” The words sparked an exciting and terrifying idea for Noelle, who decided to live out these words … literally. She named the entire year leading up to her 30th birthday her “Year of Fear” and faced a fear every single day.
Her fears ranged from sending her food back at a restaurant, to streaking down a hotel hallway, to performing in a live comedy show. Her most extreme fear-fighting experiences included climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and swimming with sharks (has she never watched Shark Week??).
One of the most important things Noelle learned during her “Year of Fear” is that some fears, like the fear of sharks, are there to keep us safe. These kinds of “survival” fears make sense to hold on to. But most of the things we fear on a day-to-day basis aren’t life-threatening and only serve to hold us back from doing the things we most want.
It’s probably not possible (or financially advisable) for you to spend an entire year unemployed, facing a fear a day. But perhaps you could commit to facing a fear a week? Or even once a month? The key here isn’t necessarily frequency, but consistency. The more consistently you step out of your comfort zone and face your fears, the more confident and empowered you’ll feel in all areas of your life.