Instead of setting goals, try defining your fears: Take a step back, think, and write down — word-for-word — the things that scare you, that invoke fear, that summon anxiety.

You see, it is not lack of ambition, ill-defined goals or not having enough passion that holds us back; it is fear — fear, that often gets disguised in valid rationalisation and excuse — things that don’t address our fears, but feed them.

Write down your fears (Do it when you’re not emotional, because you’ll write poorly otherwise), and actually look at them on the paper and ask yourself: “Is THIS what I am scared of? Are these things the very things I am allowing to hijack my brain, to hold me back, to make me miserable?” And what you will hit upon is one of the most important realisations you’ll ever make — that most of your fears are foundation-less, trivial and empty.

Most people learn this truth very late — usually close to death. But why wait that long? Why not learn it now?

Fear is normal, essential even — it’s our DNA; certain fear helps us survive, keeps us out of debt and stops us eating the whole cheesecake. The key word here, though, is ‘certain’ — because all other fear (of public speaking, asking someone on a date, asking questions, starting a business, etc) is needless, made-up, and the very thing that holds us back.

Yes, have goals, be ambitious, live passionately; but defining your fears and seeing them for what they really are — nothing — could be a turning point in your life, a turning point that right now, is exactly what you need.