Afraid to Take the Leap? Simple Ways to Face Down Your
By Valerie Young
The so-called safe path is
always "easier." Just ask Ursula. Ursula tried to take the secure career
path her immigrant parents had chosen for her. In fact, she worked incredibly
hard to achieve a level of financial success and security her parents, both high
school dropouts, never had. Says Ursula:
"I worked very hard to get through law school at night, all
the while working full time and struggling financially. When I finally achieved
what I thought was the brass ring - i.e., good salary, fancy title, etc. - it was
a thoroughly disappointing revelation that this was the end result of all the
hard work. It felt very empty and meaningless, further made so by the birth of
my two beautiful children. I just felt as though I could not possibly have been
put on this earth to toil way for 12 hour days at a job that kept me away from
my family, and which I dreaded going to every day."
"Unless you walk out into the
unknown," says Tom Peters, "the odds of making a profound difference in your
life are pretty low." After two years of executing her escape plan which
included many moments of fear and uncertainty, Ursula is embracing the unknown.
"It's like getting out of college again, and having a clean slate. I do not know
where I am going to end up, or what might come my way. In fact, staying home
with my kids right now may be the next calling, and after that, who knows!"
Laugh in the Face
Anyone who has ever ventured
out of their safe little world will tell you they had doubts. When it comes to
making a major life change, not only is a certain amount of fear perfectly
normal, it's actually helpful. For example, it's our healthy fears that keep us
from jumping off cliffs. And the great thing about fear is that there are always
ways to get around it.
So try laughing in the face of
fear. Am I kidding? No. Ridiculing your fears is actually a very effective
technique for banishing them. Let me show you what I mean.
If I told you the U.S. Senate
had just voted to relocate the capital from Washington, D.C. to Las Vegas, your
response would probably be something like, "No way!" That's because the mind
rejects that which it considers absurd. It's the same with fear. The trick is to
turn your fears into a ridiculous event in your mind. That way, you allow your
natural human reaction to absurdity to take over and dismiss them.
Try it yourself. Take your
biggest fear and take it to extremes. Really exaggerate it. Let's say you're
paralyzed by the fear of failure. Try picturing your entire family, all of your
friends, your neighbors, everyone you went to high school with, even your boss,
standing outside your cardboard-box home holding up signs that read: We Told You
Pretty ridiculous, right? When
you realize that your worst-case fantasy is just that a fantasy what felt
overwhelming will now feel much more manageable.
Change Is Easy When You Take It One Step at a Time
Another way to manage the fear
of venturing out on your own is to start small. If the thought of just up and
quitting your day job frightens you, start building your freelance career on the
side. Begin with low-risk steps and gradually work your way up to the harder
You never know what is going to move you to action. It can
be a book, something you saw on television, a chance conversation, a workshop... I
was flattered to learn that for Ursula that chance encounter happened when in
2003 she "stumbled upon" the Changing Course website. That was enough to move
Ursula to start "formulating an escape plan." She writes, "My plan consisted of
figuring what I wanted to do after I quit my job, and putting myself in a
financial position that would allow me to walk away from a well-paying, but
Receiving a consistent message that change was possible
says Ursula, "had the effect of pulling me back to my escape plan whenever I
started fearing the unknown again, or just got lazy." For Ursula that message
came in the form of this newsletter. For you it might be a support group, a
coach, or even a buddy who can check in to see how your plan is progressing.
Even though Ursula has taken
the leap, she's now working on the second part of her goal coming up with
ideas for multiple income streams. The good news is that having faced down her
fears once means Ursula can approach her new goal from a far more desirable
vantage point. "Now," she says, "I can read the newsletter on my home computer
in my sweatpants while my daughter naps, instead of on my Blackberry while
riding the 8:02 pm train back to the suburbs from work." And to just to
underscore how excited she is to be embarking on this new chapter in her life,
Ursula signed off with, "Regards from the other side."
Remember, courage is not a
matter of losing your fear so you can take action; courage comes from taking
action. And that, in turn, helps you overcome your fear. When you can act
despite your fears, you will be rewarded many times over. That's because, as
Anais Nin once observed, "Life shrinks or expands according to one's courage."
Once I found the courage to escape job jail my life expanded in ways I
never imagined possible. Life really is better over here on the "other side." I
encourage you to take one small step today to join those of us are enjoying the
view from the other side.
Learn how you can Fast Track Your Dream of working at
what you love on your own terms.
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About the Author
"Profiting From Your Passions®" expert Valerie Young abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence at ChangingCourse.com offering resources to help you discover your life mission and live it. Her career change tips have been cited in Kiplinger's, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Weekend, Woman's Day, and elsewhere and on-line at MSN, CareerBuilder, and iVillage.com. An expert on the Impostor Syndrome, Valerie has spoken on the topic of How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are to such diverse organizations as Daimler Chrysler, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Harvard, and American Women in Radio and Television.
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