Fear can be both motivating and demotivating. Over the last 30 years of my life I’ve been both motivated and held back by my fears. I’ve faced challenges head on and “won”, and waited too long to face my fears and felt disappointed. Overall, I’m really pleased with where I am in my life right now, but the overachiever in me is always looking for more challenges and opportunities.
For me, thinking about past
“failures” shortcomings can be helpful in conceptualizing why I wasn’t successful the first time. It also gives me clues about what I need to change to make the second time around to be more successful. Additionally, I find that reminding myself of past successes gives me the positive reinforcement I need to know that future success is possible.
Everyone has fears. Last week on the Real Housewives of NJ we learned that Joe Giudice fears going to the federal pen. While that’s clearly a legitimate fear for him, some of us more “normal” fears. Fear or rejection, fear of snakes, and fear of heights all come to mind. Because I think it’s therapeutic to talk through some of your fears, here are mine:
- Fear of not being “successful.” When I was 18 being “successful” meant accumulating “things”, having a nice home, driving fancy cars etc. The fear of not being successful motivated me to focus on my education. We all know that a good GPA translates to big salary right ;-). Oh how young and foolish I was. Now that I’m a little older and wiser, I’m measuring success with a much different ruler. “Material things are just things” and I’m now focused on learning, trying new things and enjoying new experiences. In fact, I’m making a list of the things that I want to achieve in my lifetime (think bucket list) that I’ll be sharing soon.
- Fear of living in Maine for the rest of my life. What’s wrong with living in Maine? Nothing. But when I was 18, I desperately wanted to get away from home and explore the world. To ensure that I didn’t get “stuck” in Maine I only applied to colleges at least 2 states away from Maine (seriously!). I associated staying in Maine with being poor and unsuccessful, so I ran from that fear. It’s interesting how I grouped the first two bulleted fears together, isn’t it?
- Fear of telling people I’m paying off my debt. Once I finished school I was nervous to tell people about my debt. Even though having student loan debt is considered “normal” and is therefore more “understandable” than other types of consumer debt, I still didn’t want anyone to know exactly how much debt I had. To avoid talking about the debt, I paid it off as fast as humanly possible.
- Fear of telling people I’m trying to get back in shape. I’ve talked a little bit about this on the blog, but haven’t really shared this goal with people in “real life”. I find it frustrating when I tell people I’m trying to get back into shape and they respond, “don’t worry you’re not overweight”. It’s not really about size to me as much as being healthy. The other “fear factor?” Accountability. Once I tell people, they’ll start asking about it and that’s added pressure (for better and for worst). The fear of having a mouthful of cookies when someone asks me, “how’s weight watchers going?” is pretty motivating.
- Fear of not following my passions. Sometimes my job isn’t my passion. I like my job most of the time, but my job isn’t my “love” and lately I’ve been thinking about how I can better follow my passion and still make a decent living (If I quit my job I’ll obviously need to find a way to replace my income). I don’t want to wake up when I’m 40 doing the same thing and feeling the same way. But stepping outside of my comfort zone and into the unknown is really scary, see below.
- Fear of not being understood. I know when I start following my passion people will probably think I’m, “nuts.” Being from a working class background, leaving a stable and steady career to follow my “passion” could probably get me committed to the “loony bin.” I anticipate my decision to follow my passions won’t be completely understood by my family, which I anticipate will be pretty stressful. Obviously this is something I’m going to have to work on, because I don’t want fear to hold me back when the time is right.
What are your fears? Are they holding your back or moving you forward? How do you conquer fear?