If I were to ask you what are your biggest fears, would you have the answer? Your ability to answer this very basic question could be at the root of finding true happiness and achieving what you want in the new year.
In A Whole New You: Six Steps to Ignite Change for Your Best Life, I discuss fear quite a bit. Our fears are what hold us back and keep us from doing the things we want to do most. It sounds pretty counterintuitive, but often, it is true.
When I met Brenda, she was in a finance job she hated. She dreaded going to work every day and often found herself daydreaming about being an interior decorator. During her free time, she helped friends and family with home design projects. People loved her work, as she was very talented. One day over coffee, as she was complaining about her job, I suggested she make a career change to interior design. She stated that the pay in finance was too good to leave. Further, she believed she lacked the "credentials" to really get a job in the interior design industry. Although she didn't realize it, Brenda was afraid. She was afraid she couldn't support her lifestyle as she knew it, and she was afraid of possible rejection from the industry due to her own-perceived lack of "professional experience."
We often bury our fears deep down, and as a result they can manifest themselves as rationalizations, which in reality are just excuses. Uncovering and identifying them, however, gives you an opportunity to confront them. In Brenda's case, once she could acknowledge her fears -- financial and professional -- she could address them. I asked her two questions for each of her fears:
- What is the worst thing that could happen if your fear came to fruition?
- Is there anything that you can do to avoid the fear from becoming a reality?
When it came to her finances, Brenda took a look at her budget and realized a lot of the things she spent money on were frivolous and unnecessary. In essence, she filled the void of feeling unfulfilled at her job with material things that didn't matter. This was great news, because it meant she didn't really need to make as much money as she was making. Further, she assessed exactly how much money she needed to make and could evaluate potential job opportunities on that minimum. This would nix the possibility that she couldn't support the lifestyle she wanted.
When Brenda addressed her fear of rejection, she realized a professional portfolio would be what she needed to convince employers of her abilities and talents. With all of the work she had done helping friends and family, she knew she could package a rather impressive portfolio. Further, she realized she could apply her finance skills to help keep design projects on budget. The more she thought about what she was capable of and the more she was able to translate her finance skills to a possible job in interior design, the more confident she became in securing a job.
Once Brenda confronted her fears, she was able to map out a plan to make her career change, and within six months, she was working for a prestigious local interior design firm. And guess what? She couldn't be happier.
Although fear feels real, it often isn't based in reality. Fear stems from what we imagine to be possible when we move out of our comfort zone and into the unknown. We tend to imagine the worst-case scenario instead of the best, and this propels us into a state of anxiety. The more we allow fear to overtake our thoughts, the less we feel comfortable taking risks, managing change, and moving forward with our goals. The more energy we spend in avoiding what we fear, the less energy we have to actively pursue what we want. Fear impairs our ability to be positive, to plan for the future, or to achieve the things that will bring us the most joy.
Fear keeps us from living the life we want and enjoying what life has to offer. The best way to avoid limiting your life as a result of fear is to recognize your fears and confront them.
In the new year, resolving to conquer your fears is one of the most important resolutions you can make. Doing so will help you keep other resolutions, reach your goals and achieve ultimate happiness.
Are you ready to conquer your fears in 2013? Now is the time with A Whole New You: Six Steps to Ignite Change for Your Best Life.
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