3 Lies Fear Always Tells You

Fear shows up when you do things that matter. Fear doesn't bother you if you decide to be average.

When you dream God-sized dreams, fear will tell you three recognizable lies. And the reason is pretty simple: Fear only bothers you when you do things that matter.

I used to think I was horrible at accomplishing my goals because I didn't know my way around a Post-It® note. In my head, I assumed people who are awesome at accomplishing goals tend to be to-do list professionals. They had lists for home, lists for work, and lists for laughter. "To-do Monday: ‘Chuckle about a limerick at 1:15.'" They had multicolored pens, notebooks, apps, and systems upon systems to navigate their goals.

Me? I was lost. I couldn't put together a to-do list to save my life. So I focused on them. I bought apps, journals, and tools by the fistful. I set resolutions, missions, and visions until I couldn't see straight. Do you know what changed?

Not much. Why? Because to-do lists weren't the reason I was failing to accomplish my goals. They might have been a contributing factor, but they weren't the big dragons in my forest of goal failure. Fear was.

And the reason is pretty simple: Fear only bothers you when you do things that matter. Fear doesn't bother you if you decide to be average. Fear will give you a free pass right to the grave if you decide to rock vanilla your whole life. The minute you start to set some goals, though, and dare to be awesome? Fear will get loud.

Fortunately, there are three recognizable lies fear always tries to tell us would-be goal setters.

Lie No. 1: It doesn't matter.

"You're not fooling anybody."

That's what my friend Thad always says when he sees musicians pretend they don't care on stage.

You've seen the type. They stand up there with a guitar and a face that says, I don't care if you like this song. Whatever. This is stupid. I'll play it. Whatever.

They act like they don't know how they got there - as if perhaps they were just walking down the street, saw an open stage with a guitar, and picked it up. It doesn't matter to them. Whatever.

Thad doesn't buy it. He knows how much they care about that moment. They worked hard to get booked at that venue. They practiced long hours, dreaming up songs and notes. They built elaborate sets in their minds and replayed the movie version of that moment a thousand times.

But fear tells you if you care too much, you'll get hurt.

In these moments, fear will try to hand you an apathy shield. Here, this will keep you safe. This will prevent you from being hurt.

What fear doesn't tell you is that apathy forms a wall, but that same wall blocks you from joy, too. It cuts you off from happiness and the thrill of seeing a tiny piece of your dream come true when you accomplish a goal.

Don't listen to fear. Apathy is a foe, not a friend — a numbing agent that doesn't distinguish between joy and pain. Beware the temptation to use it as a shield. It will block you from hope, too, not just hurt.

It's OK — and right — to care deeply about your goals.

Lie No. 2: Put your feelings in charge.

Fear always tries to put your feelings in charge.

It wants you to wake up in the morning and think, Do I feel like writing my book today? Do I feel like staying up late and working on my business plan? Do I feel like meeting my goals?

And guess what your feelings are going to tell you? No. Feelings are important, but they turn into lazy little jerks when you ask them to run your life.

Accomplishing goals is a choice just like loving your spouse or going to work. I don't wake up each morning and ask myself, Do I feel like loving Jenny today? Because guess what? Some days the answer is no. Maybe my feelings are bruised from some argument or petty insecurity that's kicking around my heart. I don't feel like starting the morning with a ride on a tandem bike followed by a picnic with my wife like the people you see in stock photography.

I choose to love my wife. I made a commitment. I honor Jenny and that commitment with my decisions.

"Some mornings you bound out of bed, and other mornings you have to drag yourself into that cubicle like it's a prison. Don't let feelings make your choices. Some days you won't feel like being awesome."

Jon Acuff

You don't feel like going to work every day. You don't call a meeting with your feelings before you leave the house and say, "Hey, guys, how are we feeling about work today? You feel like going to the beach instead? OK, that makes three weeks in a row, but what can I do? You're in charge!"

Nope, you go to work. Some mornings you bound out of bed, and other mornings you have to drag yourself into that cubicle like it's a prison.

Don't let feelings make your choices. Some days you won't feel like being awesome. People always seem surprised by that. They ask me if I ever don't feel like writing. They ask if I ever feel like quitting or if it ever feels difficult. The answer is yes. On at least 90 percent of days, those are the first feelings I have before I sit down with a blank piece of paper.

I might feel great once I get into the middle of the page, but when it's blank and staring at me with those haughty eyes of sheer nothingness, I feel like quitting before I even write a single word.

But feelings don't get to make my decisions. And feelings shouldn't make your decisions either.

Lie No. 3: You don't have enough time.

Fear will always tell you that you don't have enough time to accomplish your goals. You're too busy, and you'll never get them done.

What fear doesn't tell you is that sometimes starting a goal takes as little as 30 minutes.

Does 30 minutes really matter? I mean, that's only one-eighth of the time it takes to watch an episode of a singing competition these days. Can a half-hour make you awesome?

It can. Because you don't just rescue 30 minutes, you rescue 30 minutes in the morning.

Thirty minutes in the morning are the hardest to rescue because you've trained every part of your life to rail against living that way. We've all programmed ourselves to fill our days so fully that there's absolutely no space left for thinking about how to accomplish our goals. That's why you have such great ideas in the shower. It's the only time of day when you're quiet enough for them to sneak up on you. There's nothing to read in there to distract you. I've tried. I've read my shampoo bottle a million times. The manufacturer doesn't do animal testing, and the shampoo is perfect for soft, luxurious follicle repair.

Rescuing those 30 minutes isn't easy, and I didn't stumble on mine casually. I didn't just decide to get up 30 minutes earlier one morning because I'm such a go-getter and realized, Gee, that's it! I'll rescue 30 minutes in the morning! I sure am a hard worker when it comes to accomplishing my goals!

If only. I didn't teach myself to write in the morning. Failure did. A freelance writing project blew up, and I needed to save it. All I had to do was write and manage the design of a new brochure.

Only I didn't have any time to do that. I had a full-time job, other freelance clients, a beautiful wife, two kids under age 3, and an Atlanta commute. The traffic in Atlanta is horrible.

The worst thing is that the electric road signs say things like, Four right lanes closed due to accident. They can't all be right lanes. I see what you're trying to do, Atlanta. You're trying to trick me with words. Oh, perfect! If the four right lanes are closed, then the four left lanes should be open! Yay!

Recognizing that I was stuck, I was forced to set my alarm clock 30 minutes earlier so I could write the brochure before I went to work. For about 10 days, I got up early every morning to work on the project.

Months later, when I started my first blog and realized I needed 30 minutes to work on it, I knew where to look: The same place I found the other 30 minutes.

I'd love for you to learn from my crisis. I'd love for you to rescue your own 30 minutes without failure cracking the whip that drives you out of bed in the morning or keeps you up late at night.

And a funny thing happens when you rescue 30 minutes. You tend to find a second 30 minutes and then a third 30 minutes. Working on your goals is fun. Once you do it for 30 minutes and discover how enjoyable it is, you can't help but look for more time to do it.

You'll be getting up early or staying up late more times a week than you can possibly fathom right now.

But it all starts with rescuing 30 minutes. That's what you're going to do this week. Thirty minutes. Find it. Rescue it. Spend it all on awesome.

I don't know what goals you have in your life. Maybe you've got goals for your career, your family or your faith. Regardless of the exact nature of your goals, I know one thing - fear is going to get loud when you start working on them.

Don't believe it.

This article is courtesy of HomeLife Magazine.

Jon Acuff is the Wall Street Journal best-selling author of Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job (Lampo Press) and Stuff Christians Like (Zondervan). He is a member of the Dave Ramsey team and a nationally sought-after speaker. He lives in Nashville, Tenn., with his wife and two daughters. Follow him on Twitter @JonAcuff and read his blog at jonacuff.com.