A few days ago, I came across these brilliant lines by American writer Brian Andreas. He says, “Say yes. Whatever it is, say yes with your whole heart. Simple as it sounds, it is all the reason life needs to grab you by the hands and start to dance.” I guess a constantly dancing life can get exhausting for most of us practical, jaded adults. But I do agree that opening yourself up to new challenges and experiences is all it takes to find your bit of everyday happiness and motivation to keep going.
Has a sabbatical been on your mind for months, but you are afraid what it might do to your career? Have you been thinking about a career change or a start-up idea but leaving your comfort zone sounds too intimidating? Are you shying away from a new challenge, role, or project at work because you are afraid you will not succeed? These are some of the ways in which fear manifests itself and stops you from moving forward, in life and well as in your career.
I have been there too, far too aware of my shortcomings to ever do anything new. But over the years, I realized that self-awareness is a good thing, but new experiences are even better. Yes, it is possible to overcome these fears.
Remind yourself that nothing is the end of the world
Except, perhaps, regret. Think long-term. Prioritise. Are you comfortable waking up one morning full of reminders of all the chances you didn’t take?
As soon as you are able to weigh your two options – fear vs regret – decisions will become that much easier.
Identify what is causing your fear
Finding the reason for your fear can help you clear the air. For example, when I first decided to take a sabbatical from full-time work, my biggest fear was financial dependence. As soon as I realized it, it became easy for me to save for a sabbatical fund. No matter what the roadblock might be, there is always a workaround. But for that, introspection is necessary.
Often, the issue with taking significant life decisions has a lot to do with the complexities that we let ourselves into. Break down the end goal into simpler tasks. Figure out the actual repercussion of your decision, not what you have been conditioned to believe will happen. For example, if you start your own business or independent work, chances are that it will take up so much of your bandwidth in the initial years that you will need to let go of that big annual vacation. On its own, it hardly sounds like a trade-off. But when you weigh it against peer pressure to post the best travel photos on Facebook, it sounds like an unnecessarily complex, difficult trade-off. Find your own priorities and work towards them. More importantly, recognize the trade-offs and unnecessary fluff for what they are.
Learn to embrace the chances of failure
Chances are that your first attempt at a start-up will not end up a raging unicorn. The path to finding your true passion or chasing a dream is full of potential pitfalls. If that deters you, evaluate your what-if scenarios. Will it really be the end of the world? Slim chance. You can always go back to being employed. At the very least, try again with much more perspective on what works and what doesn’t.
More importantly, you will be able to develop a sound contingency plan only if you learn to accept that you might fail in your first attempt at anything new.
Believe it or not, change needs more patience than monotony. Waiting in the wings for your pitches to turn to real stories, learning new skills on the job, or an intelligent VC seeing the value of your idea – life-altering change often presents an endless game of waiting. If patience is not your top virtue, then it is time to learn the ropes.
The art of overcoming fear is a lot like reframing. It is about training your mind to think productively. Have a little faith and go for it.
Read Also: 3 fears every entrepreneur must overcome