Sunday, March 20, 2011

Is Fear Costing You?

Fear of Disaster
Earthquakes, tsunami, and a nuclear crisis. We've been hearing a lot about these catastrophic events in the news lately. While my thoughts go out to those affected by these terrible disasters, it makes me sad to see some media outlets playing up the fear of everyday folks. I agree that we should be prepared for emergencies, but at the same time, we shouldn't buy into sensationalist reporting.

Headlines like "Nuclear Fallout!" aimed to attract viewers/readers when the actual reporting is about how the nuclear particles won't have much of an effect on those living in the U.S. is just irresponsible. That's why it's important do our own research to be able to distinguish between real news and needless panic before jumping to conclusion. Be reasonably concerned, but check the facts. Rushing out to buy all of the potassium iodide pills on the shelves or hoarding canned foods in the grocery store is just irrational fear. Don't let the anxiety of there being a chance of something happening stop you from performing day-to-day activities. It's costly to each individual as well as our entire society. Instead, focus your energy on communicating with family and work to make sound emergency plans.

Fear of Negotiation
Not until this past year did I start actively asking for discounts when making purchases. It's partly because I didn't really keep a close eye on my spending until then. But it's also because I was afraid to negotiate with sales people. I'm not the most extroverted person by nature, so I had always felt awkward about doing so (sometimes I still do!). It's like asking a stranger for a favor. But then I realized that I wasn't asking for a favor. If the prices can be lowered, then I'm entitled to know about it. And the stranger part? That actually works to my advantage. I could care less about whether they think I'm weird for asking or being cheap. Of course, the key to any negotiation is to sound firm but polite. The same goes for discussing salary, car-buying, and even lowering medical bills. I find that if you're brave enough to inquire, you'll usually benefit from it and walk away feeling very empowered by the experience.

Fear of Failure
This is one of my biggest enemies. When I was in college, I used to put off applying to internships because I was afraid of not being prepared enough for interviews or that I wasn't going to get the job. Luckily, I was always able to get my act together at the last second (after some pep talk!). If I didn't though, it would have reduced my ability to pay for school as well as prevented me from getting valuable "field" experiences as an engineering student. That's why, in my opinion, being scared of failure is one of the most paralyzing concepts. The worst part is that the fear increases as the stakes get higher. I'm still working on this myself, but I try to recognize when I'm being too afraid to take action. Once I do so, I reason myself out of backing away from my goals and visualize the success that can be achieved.

What are some costly fears you've faced? How did you resolve it? It'd be great to hear about some fear conquering techniques!


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