Movin On Up

Facing our Fears & changing careers.

Cool Inspo about facing our fears

These days most of us spend some time on social media.  According to Statista, on average we spend 135 minutes a day on social media, read here for more. Often we are looking at images, or quotes, I have found that there are many out there about facing our fears.    I have spoken about being somewhat ambivalent about inspirational quotes here, but I do think that they can trigger a response, or become a mantra.  This year, I am repeating “life is 10% what happens to me, 90% how I react to it”.  For a multitude of reasons, I like this quote, mostly due to the empowerment message that accompanies it.   But I digress; there are many (some confusing) quotes that encourage us to face our fears, here are a few examples:

“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.  The fearful are caught as often as the brave” ~ Helen Keller

“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do”  Henry Ford

“Fears are nothing more than a state of mind” ~ Napoleon Hill

“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way” ~Babe Ruth

And I could go on.  There are mindfulness courses on facing your fears and more articles than you could care to poke a stick at.  Everywhere we look, we seem to have someone telling us to deal with these pesky things that make us fearful of whatever it is we are contemplating.

Facing our fears – career change

There are a myriad of matters that see us facing our fears in our career.  Today I wanted to talk about facing our fear of changing career or taking the plunge to do something radically different for work and three things I have learnt.

  1. There is never a right time. Don’t get me wrong, there are better times and there are not so great times.  But if you are searching for the perfect time to move careers (or have a baby), you might be waiting a long time.  Fact of the matter is, there is always a compelling reason why waiting might be better.  Usually, in hindsight you will be kicking yourself for waiting at all.  Sensible reasons like money, job security and having worked hard for the seniority you have earned are good excuses for waiting to make a change.  However, these are well and truly grounded in fear; fear of not having enough money; fear of not being recognised for your seniority etc.  When you consider timing, think about practical issues like bonuses (and cut off dates), current workplace deliverables and personal timing.  Kicking off a new at-home business and beginning extensive renovations may qualify as a “less than good” time in the broader scheme of things.
  1. There is always benefit to be found, but it might come at a cost. My experience has been that you might have to sacrifice money when we face our fears and have a career change, but you might gain freedom.  My friend Jack is a case in point.  Jack was a Senior partner at a law firm when he made the decision to take a giant career pivot.  Jack had hit a plateau in his 20+ year successful law career and was desperate to do something more creative.  He left the law firm, did some study and found a role (far less senior) in an Art Gallery.  He was petrified of the consequenses of his decision, particularly in his perceived loss of status and power.  And he did have to adjust to his new circumstances, but he found that as he was not carrying around the weight of perception and expectation of his previous career he was better able to create meaningful relationships with his new clientel.
  1. The grass is not always greener, just a different shade of green. If you jump on Instagram on any given day, you won’t have to look far to find someone to tell you that its time to follow your dreams.  I am a fan of following your dreams, but I am also a realist.  While it may look great to become a “insert dream job here”, I believe that you need to approach dream following with the understanding that a job comes with highs and lows.  There may be terrific successes, but there also might be failure.  Once you get to your dream, it may be the best thing that ever happened to you, or the worst.  The point I am attempting to make is that any career change comes with a risk of it not working out for you, or not working out the way you expected.  In my book, this isn’t a reason to shy away from making a change, just be realistic in your expectations and be open to adapt your plans if things don’t go the way you thought they would.
Humans have been facing our fears forever

We humans have been facing our fears and testing our courage since time began.  Most fables and historical stories, at the core, are tests of courage vs fear, with courage often winning out.  Our fears have played an important role in our evolution.  According to Psychology Today, we all share 5 basic fears, out of which all of the other fears bloom.  These are:

  • Extinction
  • Mutilation
  • Loss of Autonomy
  • Separation
  • Ego-death

You can read more about that here.

Being fearful makes sense, but so does facing our fears

Given that facing our fears is part of our biology, and our history, it only makes sense that we would be fearful of making change in an area that provides for our needs.  However, I believe that living in a world of regret is far worse than facing our fears.

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