What is it about doing what we truly want that makes us feel so vulnerable?
If we are being honest, more often than not, it is the fear of being judged by others that stops us from doing the things that we truly want to do. Whether we want to start a new career or our own business, the thought of being judged by our friends, family members, or even strangers feels so painful that it paralyzes us, preventing us from doing what want to do.
In fact, if you find yourself avoiding doing something to change or improve your career, it is likely that the fear of judgment is getting in your way. If you've ever decided not to speak up and share your thoughts in a meeting or with a group of friends because you were afraid of what they might think of you, then you know exactly what I'm talking about. Generally, we would rather play it safe by not sharing or expressing ourselves--even if it stops us from getting what we want--in order to avoid feeling judged.
In a recent session with a client, he revealed that he had been hesitant to share his new sales pitch for his financial services business because he was afraid of what some people in his life would think. He had come up with a unique message that included his personal story and philosophy on life and he felt it would help him make a better connection with the right types of clients. He was proud of his new sales pitch, yet he was avoiding sharing it in public.
I could hear the frustration in his voice as he shared his challenge with me. He knew he was letting the opinions of a few people stop him from doing what he wanted to do. And the worst part was, no one had said anything to him yet, the criticism was all in his head.
After he was done beating himself up for letting these imaginary critics stop him, I asked him to take a deep breath, set aside the frustration he was feeling and think about one question: "Why is this important to you?"
His face lit up when he answered, "I'm doing this for my family. I want to be able to spend time with my kids and show them it is possible to live a full life, doing something you feel passionate about and be there for your family."
Once he articulated his motivation for why he developed his new sales pitch to grow his business, his attitude changed. He went from feeling dejected to feeling empowered. He knew why he wanted to grow his business, and nothing was going to stop him.
Build Your "Why" Muscle
I want you to feel empowered too. One of the most effective ways to overcome the fear of judgment is to get clear on why you want what you want. When you know your "why", it enables you to overcome your doubts and insecurities so that you can take the necessary actions to accomplish your goals.
But it doesn't stop there. The only way your "why" becomes a powerful motivating force is if you connect to it every day. Don't expect to be transformed instantly. You didn't learn to walk in one day and connecting to your "why" is no different. It takes consistent effort on a daily basis to become good at something, and being connected to your "why" is no different.
5 Questions To Find Your "Why"
1. What is your goal?
What do you want to accomplish? Do you want a new job? Do you want to change careers? Do you want to start your own business? Do you want to do something more meaningful and fulfilling? Whatever it is, give yourself the permission to go for it. It is OK to want what you want. Don't talk yourself out of it.
2. Why is this goal important to you?
How will it improve your life mentally, emotionally, and financially? Will it give you more time to spend with your family. Will it give you more freedom to travel? Will it bring more meaning and purpose to your life? Whatever the reason is, knowing your why will help you stick to your goal when challenges arise.
3. How will you feel when you achieve this goal?
Will you feel more accomplished, happy, or proud? Will you feel like your making a difference in the world? Will you feel like you're finally doing what you love? Shift your focus to these emotions rather than focusing on the fear of what others may think of you.
4. How will achieving this goal improve the lives of your loved ones?
While achieving your goal will make you feel good, it is also motivating to think about how your accomplishments are going to positively impact the lives of the people you care about. Think about how your family, friends, and clients will benefit from you achieving your goals. When you know that you are going to positively impact others, you can tap into that knowledge to overcome any fears or insecurities.
5. What is the cost of you not achieving your goal?
How will you feel a year from now if nothing in your life has changed? What experiences will you miss out on personally and professionally? What do you stand to lose financially? What will it feel like to not reach your potential? If the pleasure of achieving your goal does not motivate you enough then maybe the pain of not achieving your goal will.
BONUS QUESTION: Who can support you in your journey?
Speaker and author, Jim Rohn said, "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." When left alone with our thoughts, the fear of judgment can stop us from making personal choices that can lead to a more fulfilling career. But when we surround ourselves with others who believe in us and support our vision and who are being brave and taking steps to improve their careers, then we can lean on them for encouragement and inspiration to reach our goals. Find 2 or 3 like-minded individuals who you can work with to answer the questions above to create your "Why" mantras.
The fear of judgment is a common challenge we face when stepping out of our comfort zone to pursue career goals that are important and meaningful. Getting clear on why you are pursuing your goal is an important first step to overcome any doubts that enter your head as you make changes in your life.
What are you avoiding doing right now because you're afraid of what other people might think? In the comments below share what your career goals are and why they are important to you. Let's all support each other on our journeys.
Want a more fulfilling career but not sure what you want to do? Download the Career Clarity Guide: 7 Ways To Find A More Fulfilling Career!