Approaching Fears

All of us have a fear or two that keeps us up through the night. Maybe it’s debt or being unable to take care of your family. Maybe it’s a lack of money for retirement. Maybe it’s a health issue or early death.

My biggest fear, without a doubt, is passing away before my children reach adulthood. I’m not worried that Sarah will be able to provide a good childhood for my children. My worry is that they won’t have the two-parent opportunities that they have now and that they will wonder what kind of person their father was when they reach adulthood.

My second biggest fear is that I’m not doing enough to create lots of income streams for steady income for my family. Let’s say, for some reason, that my arrangement for writing The Simple Dollar ceased. I have some additional sources of income, but not nearly as many as I would like. I’ve dabbled in many things over the years, meaning that I have lots of “trickles.”

Those are the two biggest things I worry about in my life right now. They are the first negative things that float into my head when I think about my life.

I am afraid I will die before my children grow up. I am afraid that I won’t be able to provide for them.

If the past several years have taught me anything, it’s that the single best counterbalance to fear is action. Fears start melting away if you’re actively working on solutions to those problems.

If you can point to something you’ve done today to address that fear, then the fear retreats a little. If you can point to something you’ve done every day for a while to address that fear, then the fear diminishes quite a bit more.

(There’s nothing you can do to entirely make it go away, but it will often melt down to something so small that other life joys and concerns greatly overshadow it.)

The simple question I ask myself every single day is what did I do to alleviate these fears? What did I do to ensure that I’ll live for longer? What did I do to create new income streams?

In terms of living longer, I eat a vegetarian diet with occasional fish. I try hard to eat mostly meals made from ingredients that I can easily identify, preferably leading with vegetables. I try to take a long walk each day, though I don’t get it done sometimes in the winter. (I usually make up for it by going on really long walks on each day that the weather cooperates.)

In terms of building income, I spend at least two hours each day trying to plant seeds for new income streams. I record videos, work on books, and many other things along these lines. I’m not worried about something “catching fire” like The Simple Dollar did; I mostly just focus on seeding a lot of things out there that will each earn a little bit over the long haul.

Does daily action make the fear disappear? No. Does it make the fear shrink quite a lot? It sure does.

If something regularly pops into your mind and fills you with worry, spend some time asking yourself what you can do about it. See if you can identify things you can do each and every day to tackle those fears. Then, when they pop up, you have something you can knock those fears down with.

Not only will you be addressing the problems of your life, you’ll also be heading toward a life with less stress and more peace.

Trent Hamm
Trent Hamm
Founder of The Simple Dollar

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 after developing innovative financial strategies to get out of debt. Since then, he’s written three books (published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press), contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.

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