I am going to tell you a little secret: At times, I can be a big pansy. I am scared of the dark (for real), if I am walking outside at night time, I am almost certain someone is following me. I am absolutely terrified of jay-walking (ask anyone who has experienced walking across the street with me). At least once a year when I hear noises in the house, I assume someone has broken in and are moments away from kidnapping me and selling me in the European sex-trade. If you didn't think all of that was pathetic enough, when I used to waitress late at a pub in my early years of University (still living at home) I would call my dad, wake him up at 3 am, and ask him to come to the door and make sure no one mugged me in the distance between the car and the house. (I was parked in the driveway...)
I, Sarah Lajeunesse, am a complete and utter pansy.
I am writing this blog today because in the past year, I have been working towards something big in my life that both excites me and terrifies me. To put it blunt, I’m scared shitless.
Which is natural, I think, and something we all experience at one time or another for any number of reasons. Maybe you don’t experience a similar and paranoid oh-my-god-there’s-someone-under-my-bed-and-if-I-wedge-myself-between-the-side-of-the-bed-and-the-wall-and-cover-myself-with-pillows-and-stop-breathing-maybe-they’ll-think-I’m-not-here-and-leave-before-chloroforming-my-face-and-stealing-my-kidneys type of fear. Or you might… I don’t know… stranger things have been known to happen.
So recently, I experienced a very REAL type of fear. One that makes kidney stealing, chloroforming, European sex-trading, lurking outside of your house waiting for their young victims to return home from a shift at the local pub type fears seem like fluffy little bunnies. You see, I’m launching my own life coaching business in a couple of months and I am kind of terrified. I started to worry about what my friends, family and colleagues would think. I think they actually don’t care, to be honest - except for my wonderful, caring, loveable father who is convinced I’m going through a depression/mid-life-crisis/on the verge of ruining my life. God bless him. Anyways, I sat down and really thought about what I was scared of and came up with a few reasons: Starting my own business and failing, being vulnerable, trying something new, stepping out of my comfort zone, not being the “right” coach for some people, not being the “right” time in my life, not having the financial means to make a large investment, not living up to my clients’ expectations, not living up to my own expectations and at the end of the day, simply not being perfect.
I realized that if I didn’t stop thinking this way, I would eventually find myself sitting there, clients or not, striving in vain for an impossible-to-reach standard of perfection.
If I spent all of my time being afraid of criticism, rejection and failure, I’d waste my productivity, time, energy and ultimately my life not doing something that I am so incredibly excited and passionate about. Likely a huge regret when I’m lying on my death bed many, many years from now.
So, for all of the people out there that have been thinking about/are ready to make massive transitions in their lives such as changing careers, starting their own business, following their passions or just trying something new – remember these ten simple tips to avoid letting fear run your life.
1. Don’t Settle
In your job, with your weight, in your relationships, where you live - just don’t. I despise when I hear people say things like: “a job is just a means to an end”, “I work for the weekend”, or “something has to pay the bills”. Yes, you should absolutely be making calculated decisions and I wouldn’t advise quitting your job or fleeing the country unless you have another source of income lined up. However, don’t compromise your happiness for the sake of being “realistic”.
2. Just Say Yes
The ladies in my book club just finishing reading “Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes. A serious must-read. It was a book written by the mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal who reveals how saying yes changed her life. We can get so comfortable and complacent in our day-to-day routine that we’re scared of saying yes to new things, being in uncomfortable situations and putting ourselves out of our comfort zone. So much so that we actually miss out on living and discovering new things/opportunities that might change our lives for the better, in a way we couldn’t even imagine. Even if you’re scared to fail, scared to succeed, scared to be criticized or rejected, simply think to yourself, “fuck it” and just say yes.
3. Find a Tribe of You-People
This one is soooo critically important. I love me some me-people. I can spot them on the street, in a meeting, on a subway or through social media. They are the ones living out their passions, forgetting about fear of judgement, pursuing a career and a life that lights them up. Those are the people that motivate me and inspire me every single day to do the same. Surround yourself with all of the ‘you-people’ in the world that will encourage you, support you and never doubt you for a second. Follow those people on social media, check out their blogs, look into their businesses and reach out to them. The more like-minded people you have in your life, the less room for fear and doubt.
4. Don’t Procrastinate
I may only be speaking for myself here, but when I am about to make a big move, start something new, or pursue a new passion, I get super excited and then a little bit scared. Case and point, when I signed up for my coaching program over a year ago, I was over-the-top excited and couldn’t wait for it to start. It’s literally all I could think about and all I could talk about. Sometimes I would literally giggle with glee just thinking about it and waiting for the course to begin. When the course books finally showed up in the mail and the initial excitement of tearing open the package and diving into the books eventually subsided, I didn’t touch the books for two weeks. Every time I thought about diving in I got a little bit nervous and felt a pit in my stomach thinking about the fact that it was time to embark on this new journey.
When I finally just dove in, it was everything I imagined it was going to be, and more. I had never been more excited or felt like I was in the right place at the right time, doing what I was meant to be doing, in my life. I think most of us can attest that at some point in our lives when major life transitions are on the horizon, it is sometimes easier to stand on the sidelines where we feel comfortable and safe. That’s totally normal. I have found however, that once I finally decide to act, my procrastination is quite often replaced with excitement and motivation. Do yourself a a favour and try it.
5. Set Your Goals – And Share Them
If you let fear run the show, you might not feel inclined to share your big ideas with the world out of fear of being criticized or being told you might fail. Take this blog post for example. This was me ignoring my fears and sharing with you all something that I am extremely excited about. Of course, I contemplated finishing my course, launching my business and just keeping it to myself to avoid any criticism or rejection. But that seemed like a silly idea. Additionally, if I tried to pansy out now then I would have to deal with people reminding me that I didn't even try. If you have a big goal or project or idea you are working on, share it with people (supportive, you-people, obviously) so you have someone to hold you accountable. You are less likely to let your big project fall off the map if you share your idea with others.
6. Focus on Your Why
Whenever you’re feeling that familiar nervous angst or pit in your stomach when you are about to take action towards big change, just remind yourself WHY you are doing this in the first place. Are you launching your dream business to give yourself the freedom and flexibility to travel around the world and explore new places and people? Are you disposing of a rotten friend or partner so you can be free to live a better and happier life without their negative energy? Are you leaving a soul-sucking and toxic environment at work to follow a career that fulfills you? Think about your end goal and why you are doing it, it might just give you a little nudge in the right direction.
7. Question Your Fear
One of my closest and most wonderful friends asked me how I keep up with a journal. Another blog post for another day, but this is a great area to start. In the past when I feel particularly stressed or anxious about an idea I have and want to bring it to life but feel that familiar twinge of fear coming on, I'll bring out the journal and jot down the answer to a couple of questions:
Why am I scared?
What is the worst that could happen?
Quite often, you realize there is honestly nothing to be scared about and the very worst case scenario is either very unlikely to occur or can be figured out. It’s definitely not the end of the world to try out new things and to pursue a passion or idea you have, but it would be a real shame if you never even tried in the first place.
8. Trust the Process
Regardless of the fact that I irregularly meditate and partake in a lot of “woo woo” activities as some people like to say, I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a spiritual person. However, I do believe that everything happens for a reason and each of us were put on this earth to share our very own unique gifts and talents with the world. If you feel called to do something, then please go ahead and do it, and trust that everything will work out the way it’s meant to.
9. Welcome the Fear
If any of you have read Elizabeth Gilbert’s amazing book Big Magic, you will know where I am going with this. If you haven’t read it – please do! It is made for passion-fuelled creative folks just like yourself. In her book, she talks about making space for fear in her life in a space where fear and creativity can coexist peacefully. She noticed that when you make space for fear, the less it fights back. She actually shares a love letter that she wrote to fear when she is getting ready to embark on a creative journey – “The Road Trip” she calls it, with creativity and fear both by her side. This part was absolute GOLD:
“Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously. Apparently your job is to induce complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting – and, may I say, you are superb at your job. So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring.There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still – your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You're not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you're not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive."
Which is such an amazing way to look at fear. Invite it along for the ride. It’s not going anywhere. Acknowledge and welcome its presence so you can move along with your journey. Elizabeth Gilbert, you are my people.
10. Start, Now
Unless you have a better idea.
Do you have a big idea or big project that you want to start but have a long list of reasons for not acting on it? Share it in the comments box below or message me to chat! I would love to hear about your big picture! Or, if you just want to swap some stories of unnecessary paranoia, by all means – I have a few I could share.