Thinking about making changes to pursue a career you love? When it comes to taking the leap, many of us run into one giant, seemingly insurmountable roadblock. The more seriously we think about taking a step in that direction, the stronger and more impenetrable it becomes.
What’s the roadblock? Fear. It’s a prime culprit in keeping us limited and stuck in our lives.
The good news is that the impenetrable nature of that obstacle is actually just an illusion. You create it moment-by-moment. And because you create it, you also have the power to make it go away.
Here are eight ways to dissolve that fear so you can get back to creating the life you want:
1. Take action.
The easiest, most effective way to eliminate fear is simply to start taking action. When you’re standing still, thinking about what’s coming down the road, your mind can spin a potential reality out of countless worst-case scenarios. Taking action lets you focus on your forward momentum. Action also creates opportunity, which means those worst-case imagined scenarios start to be replaced by opportunity and possibility.
2. Divide and conquer.
No doubt you’ve heard that when something seems too big and unmanageable to achieve, you should break it down and tackle it piece by piece. That’s also good advice when it comes to minimizing your fear. What can seem impossible and even terrifying as a big-picture goal loses a lot of its fear-energy when you approach it in bite-sized, doable stages.
Do you ever find yourself falling into fear, tensing up, ultimately immobilizing yourself over what could go wrong? Make a habit of simply stopping to breathe. To start with, step out of that fear space and take 10 slow, deep breaths. As you develop that habit, build on it. Take five minutes and focus on your breath. Then 10 minutes. Think of it as a mini-spa for your mind, a time to relax and step out of the turmoil.
4. Look for inspiration.
Inspiration and debilitating fear can’t live in the same place. Make a habit of bringing inspirational sources into your life, such as books, movies, motivational speakers, or someone you know. Think of it as a gas station that fuels you with positive energy.
5. Break the fear-chain.
Fear is a cycle, a domino effect. One fear sets in motion a fear-chain that spirals out of control. Before you know it, Armageddon is nigh, and you can’t even think about moving toward a career you love. When you recognize that happening, take a step back and ask, “What one fear is relevant to my next steps?” Then set that fear aside, and focus on taking action.
Put your fear to work in a positive way. Instead of letting it run the show, let that fear shine a light on potential challenges so you can plan for them in advance. If you use it to your advantage, your fear can help you reduce the risk of a negative result.
7. Reach out for support.
Don’t grit your teeth and tough it out. That can cause the pressure to build until you pop. Reach out for support. Let yourself be vulnerable and unsure. Lean on others. Express your fears without wallowing in them.
8. Create success reminders.
Make a list of past successes, big and small. Explore what skills and abilities allowed you to succeed. Identify the obstacles you overcame to get there, as well as what helped you get past them. Keep adding to this list over time as you experience new challenges and successes. Refer to it frequently, reinforcing your belief that, “I can.”
[For more job-search advice, visit U.S. News Careers.]
Fear is a persistent beast, so don’t be surprised if it keeps rearing its head. You’re not likely to banish it once and for all. But the more you practice dissolving it when you feel the negative energy build, the more you’ll be able to overcome that once-insurmountable roadblock.
After years as a professional malcontent, Curt Rosengren discovered the power of passion. As speaker, author, and coach, Rosengren helps people create careers that energize and inspire them. His book, 101 Ways to Get Wild About, and his E-book, The Occupational Adventure Guide, offer people tools for turning dreams into reality. Rosengren's blog, The M.A.P. Maker, explores how to craft a life of meaning, abundance, and passion.