I’ve asked before what would you do if you weren’t afraid? What did you choose? Applying for a job which you’ve always wanted but never had the courage to go for? Taking on a new responsibility? Making a change? Writing a book? Signing up for a challenge? Hopefully, you chose something meaningful to you, something that would challenge you.
How far have you got? Perhaps you are well into chapter 20 of your memoirs, maybe you are choosing the title. Did you apply for a new role? Did you write up (or download) a training schedule? I would love to think so but chances are you are reading this and saying to yourself “I would love to do [insert the thing you would do if you weren’t afraid] but I can’t because [insert excuse here]
Harsh? Maybe. For those of you who are well into achieving what you set out to, congratulations, let me know how you get on! You can stop reading now. If you’re not, what’s stopping you?
Still with me?
You’re not alone. For most of us, we really want to do the thing which scares us but the thing is….it scares us. Here are some common statements I hear:
- What if it doesn’t work out?
- I don’t know where to begin
- I need x before I can start
- I don’t have the time
- I don’t have the money
- I don’t have any support
All of these feel like valid reasons, they are right? I know I have used them in the past. The reality is though that they are excuses because you are afraid of the unknown (normal by the way) and these excuses are holding you back. I have written about limiting beliefs and procrastination before, they are such common barriers to success. I am not for a second saying it’s easy to overcome them but if you want to move forward and lean in, then it’s essential that you do.
Of course, you need to be practical, think things through and not rush into it (note to self) but equally, you can get paralysed in your thinking and not move in any direction, let alone in a forward one. It’s a fine line. I have talked about ways to reach your goals, to remove your limiting beliefs and making a change.
Let me give you an example:
When I was made redundant I was 2 years into a relationship, had a fab support network and family nearby, there were plenty of jobs locally; in a word, I was settled. So what did I do? I took a job in a place where I knew no-one, not one person; I moved two hours away from my boyfriend and I changed career completely from being a lab scientist to being a careers adviser. I had no idea if it would work out, I had no support network in my new area and I had no experience or qualifications in the field of careers. I wasn’t scared until I started packing up my flat! Then the doubts crept in…what if I was rubbish at careers? What if I hated it? What if my boyfriend and I couldn’t manage the distance? What if….the list was long.
I knew though that when I applied for the job I knew I was going the right thing, I could feel it, I had complete peace about it and was excited and when I was feeling all these doubts I talked to someone. She said:
“Nothing is fixed, you can always change your mind if you feel it’s not working out”
Wise words. I stand by them today only I usually ask myself “what’s the worst that can happen?” and I listen to my instincts, if I feel at peace about it then it’s almost certainly the right decision for me. None of the things I worried about happened – I am a brilliant careers adviser (modest too!), I absolutely love my job and my partner and I are still together; three kids and two house moves later.
Removing the roadblocks
What I know now is that we often think in absolutes e.g. “I can’t take that new role in that new location because I will have no support network if I move”, because if it were true then no one would be able to do it. It would never work out for anyone and yet it does, it did for me. We put roadblocks in our own way. The easiest way to remove them is to break them down and challenge them. How about asking yourself the following:
- What if it does work out?
- What’s my first step?
- What do I need to make the first step?
- How can I use my time more effectively?
- What can I do for free/minimal outlay?
- Who can support me in this?