I’ve had a dream to be my own boss since I entered the bustling world of the 9-5 work week. My first “real job,” a salaried position in academic marketing, was everything I hoped for in a job–creative freedom, helping others fulfill their dreams, working with a talented mix of people I liked and respected, a regular paycheck and benefits. I was 24 and felt like I was actually doing it–succeeding like a real adults do. It was awesome…
...For about three months.
It didn’t take long until other ideas I’d had for my professional career began to resurface. Dreams of helping others who were trying to succeed just like me, having the freedom to explore different creative avenues, having the ability to set my own work hours and take a vacation without needing to ask permission or hoping I’d accrued enough hours.
My cushy desk job quickly became a daily reminder of how much more I wanted for myself.
I started daydreaming about becoming a personal stylist–a profession I had some experience in and a job description that seemed to fit what I was looking for in a career. There was just one problem: I was mentally crippled by fear.
But what was I really afraid of? I had experience working for a stylist in New York City after college. I even had an education, earning a certification in fashion merchandising. Was I so afraid of succeeding I just couldn’t bring myself to get started?
Divine intervention must have been at play when I randomly met and befriended a stylist at an event. I started meeting up with her after work to learn more about the profession. I even posed as a student and called some successful stylists in town to “interview” them, doing my own version of market research about their experience in the profession. I was receiving advice and support from successful stylists. Was I so intimidated by their success I just couldn’t bring myself to get started?
I talked about this dream with my co-workers, friends, family members–anyone who would listen–and people were nothing but supportive. I had friends begging me to help them and co-workers recommending people I could partner with to reach my target market. Was I not getting started because I was afraid I’d actually be good at it?
No–I wasn’t afraid of succeeding at all. Despite all the encouragement, education, experience and support I received, I never styled one person.
THE FEAR OF SUCCESS IS A LIE
We don’t fail because we’re afraid of success. We fail because our mental chatter is so persistent we don’t know how to differentiate our intuition from our ego, or fear.
When we’re about to attempt something new, branching outside the safety of our comfort zone, our ego goes on hyper alert creating “what-if” scenarios that tap into our darkest fears of rejection, judgement and failure.
When we remain stuck, we’re allowing fear to run our lives instead of love and compassion because it’s easier for our minds to connect with the possibility of failure than it is to connect with the possibility of a positive outcome.
I wasn’t afraid of succeeding, I was deathly afraid of failing. What would it mean for me to attempt my ultimate dream and end up a total fraud? What if I didn’t provide any value for my clients and people hated working with me? In no scenario was I afraid of succeeding. I just chose to listen to the wrong driving force inside of me.
That was until I learned how to work with my fears instead of run from them.
HOW TO OVERCOME YOUR FEAR
YOU DON’T THINK YOUR CREDENTIALS/EXPERIENCE/IDEAS ARE GOOD ENOUGH so you remain stuck, daydreaming about what you’re going to do instead of getting to work. You don’t like to admit it, but it’s wayyy easier thinking about getting to work than actually applying yourself and starting.
HOW TO MOVE FORWARD is to start small. Want to make something mega happen? Great! Set a goal with an end date and get to work chipping away at it. Baby steps are key here.
According to Deane Alban from bebrainfit.com, “Your brain continually alters its structure, function, circuitry and chemistry in response to everything you think and do.”
So when you set out to accomplish a new goal (like changing careers) or develop a new habit (like writing regular blog posts), you have to teach your mind how to respond by being consistent in your efforts to complete the goal.
ACTION STEP: Transform your goal into a habit. Start a Habit Calendar marking a big, red X for each day you devote time and attention to your goal.
Want to write a blog post every week? Choose to write every day–even weekends until it becomes habit. Devoting regular, consistent time and attention to a task every day (even just 15-30 minutes) can alter the chemistry in your brain and form ideas or goals into regular habits. (1)
GO FOR IT
So next time you’re struggling to accomplish a task or move forward in a life-altering career change, don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s human nature to go into red-alert when you venture outside your comfort zone. The important thing to remember is to put your game face on, set a goal and develop a habit to support yourself as your mind learns your new behavior. Pull out that desire and tenacity I know is inside of you and get moving toward your big, aspirational dreams!