At the beginning of my career change journey when I was considering transitioning from lawyer to something else, I was routinely paralyzed by fear. While I really truly wanted to find a more fulfilling job and knew that the change could make me happier, I felt stopped by a little voice in the back of my head telling me that it would never happen. This voice made me believe that it wasn’t possible to jump to a new field, that I wasn’t good enough to compete with other more experienced people, and that I would be judged by friends and family for leaving the law. I felt powerless because of these thoughts and instead of taking concrete actions towards finding a new job, I spent a majority of the time focusing on what could go wrong.
HOW ARE YOUR FEARS HOLDING YOU BACK?
Here are the most common fears I experienced:
- Fear of failure (What if this doesn’t work out?)
- Fear of uncertainty (I don’t even know what I really want.)
- Fear of not being good enough (I don’t have the skills and other people are better than me)
- Fear of looking bad (What will other people will think of me during this process?)
It wasn’t until I sat down to do a visioning exercise - a rare moment of self-reflection at the time -that I finally began to question these deeply held insecurities. As I stared at a blank page, trying to put pen to paper, I realized I was scared to write down what I wanted. I was so sure that I couldn’t have what I wanted that I wasn’t even willing to let myself imagine what it would look like. Something about this moment stunned me and shifted my perspective. I saw just how much my fear was holding me back from doing anything new, and I decided that I had to do something differently.
EXAMINE YOUR FEAR RESPONSE
Fear is a common response to change. When we are about to introduce something new into our lives (even something we really want), we often simultaneously reject it in order to protect ourselves from any perceived danger like experiencing failure, shame and embarrassment.
While it's difficult to remove fear entirely, examining the presence of it in your life like I was forced to during my writing exercise, can be a productive way to weaken its effects. There is something mysteriously potent about shining a light on the thoughts and feelings that you are most scared or ashamed of. Here are six questions that my clients find helpful in overcoming their fear response. I suggest answering them through writing or with the help of a trained coach.
6 QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU OVERCOME YOUR FEAR RESPONSE
- What are you afraid of?
- Is this fear real or imagined? How do you know?
- What is the downside to not taking action? (What will it be like if things never change?)
- What is the upside to taking action? (How will it impact your life positively if things change and you get what you want?)
- Why is it important to you to have what you want?
- What small step could you take towards your goal that feels safe?
These questions are designed to help you shift your focus from the danger of taking action to the possibility of getting what you want. With a shift in perspective, you can access the clarity and confidence within you to take tangible action steps towards your goal. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. I would love to hear how you are doing on your journey to career fulfillment!