Guiding Mid-career Professionals to Jobs They Love

A Call to Action – Life is Too Short Not to Face Fears

images“I don’t have enough time to focus on myself.”

“It’s a luxury to have a career you love. No one enjoys work.”

“I can’t spend time or money on myself to figure out what will make me happy.”

“I’ll figure it out later. With the bad economy, I just have to put my head down and make money to pay the bills.”

Have you ever said these things?  I know I’ve had these thoughts.  And I hear them pretty often from friends, family, colleagues and clients.

Where do these beliefs come from, I began to wonder. And how are they serving us individually and collectively?

My guess is that these beliefs do protect us in some ways.  On the surface, “not having enough time,” allows us to hide behind humility and virtue.  It presents us an opportunity to not seem selfish.  As human beings, we have a strong desire to be caretakers and supporters of our friends and loved ones around us.  What we are taught reinforces this value that many of us hold.  And to focus on our own wants and needs seems to contradict this value.

But is it a contradiction?  Is carving out time to care of our own needs and seeing ourselves as worth it really in opposition of being supportive of others?  I’m not sure. If we go deeper, we see that to be truly supportive of others in the way we desire, we must be at our best.  This allows us to fully give our gifts to the world.  And in order to be our best, we must see ourselves as worthy enough of the time it takes for self-care and an investment in our personal growth and development.

To simply say we don’t have enough time may be just another way we avoid facing our fears.

Fear of what you might ask?  The list is long.  It takes multiple shapes for many of us.

Fear of not finding the career that will fulfill us.
Fear of never finding enough clarity to move forward.
Fear of making the wrong decision.
Fear of making a change and still not being happy.
Fear of the difficult journey it will be to find and pursue a new path.
Fear that happiness and making money are mutually exclusive.
Fear that you will not be capable and effective if you pursue an area of passion.

The list could go on.  The underlying fear as I see it, is a fear of the unknown.

It is human nature to fear the unknown – to choose unhappiness over uncertainty.

But although we have a great capacity to endure undesirable situations, there is something deep within us that knows it is worth doing something about.  So what can we do about it?  How can we begin to make the changes in ourselves in order to make a positive impact for our immediate circle and the world?

We find that in order to conquer a fear, we need to define it.

In Tim Ferris’ book, The 4-Hour Work Week, he has readers face what I see as a brilliant question in helping us define our fear of the unknown.

What is it costing you – financially, emotionally, and physically – to postpone action? Don’t only evaluate the potential downside of action.  It is equally important to measure the atrocious cost of inaction.  If you don’t pursue the things that excite you, where will you be in one year, five years, ten years?  How will you feel having allowed circumstance to impose itself upon you and having allowed ten more years of your finite life to pass doing what you know will not fulfill you?  If you telescope 10 years and know with 100% certainty that it is a path of disappointment and regret, and if we define risk as “the likelihood of an irreversible negative outcome,” inaction is the greatest risk of all.

And I’d like to add, what is it costing those around you?

How is your inaction impacting your friends and loved ones?  Your colleagues?  The world at large?

We are all inter-connected. A change in how we see and treat ourselves will ripple out to the world. Change in the world starts with each one of us. If we all hold back and live from a place of fear, we will continue to build a world of full of distrust, unhappiness, lack and scarcity.

So the next time you find yourself saying, “I don’t have the time to invest in myself” or “I’ll wait until a better time to make a change,”

Ask yourself, “What is it costing me to postpone action?”

And remember…What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.

  1. Carly –

    Thanks for a great topic. Fear is such a powerful emotion. i know I hear the same kind of fear based thoughts all the time. To ask what it really costs to hold back can move us past fear – it brings the rational into play. Usually fear is highly ridiculous when we step back and coldly analyze. i love your approach to putting fear in its place and being bold. Great writing.

    .-= Philip Bolton´s last blog ..What I talk about when I talk about running =-.

  2. I think this is such a great topic because it really is human nature to stay within our neatly defined comfort zones. I know I can be guilty of it sometimes. Who knows how much we may be missing out on by sticking to what we know. Sometimes by not doing something, you really are doing something that could result in limiting yourself. Thanks again for this post! –Joe

  3. Thanks for your comments Phil & Joe. You both reminded me of how “doing nothing” is a choice we make whether conscious or not. Yet just because we’re not conscious of the choice we’re making, its not an excuse. Define the fear, see the choice and power we have in shaping our own futures and go for it!

  4. Perfect topic – fear seems to be involved in everything. It served a very good evolutionary purpose. Unfortunately, we seem to find ways to create it now that we don’t need it all the time.

    Because it is so contradictory, my favorite fear is the fear of success. This one is fun to discover because, often, once you define it, you can move past it almost immediately. Or, you can move on to dealing with the specific fear of what you believe you will have to DO if you succeed (e.g. public speaking, managing people, flying).

    Thanks, Carly!

  5. Thanks for the great comment Caryn! I love the paradoxical fear of success. It always gets me thinking of the quote by Marianne Williamson,

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

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