Forget what you Think you Know about Fear

The four years before I launched my business, I created a plan that would get it all rolling within three months.  I also had a plan that would take me through the following nine months and generate enough income that would sustain my business.  I even had investors lined up to help with that initial launch.  I would dream about what it would be like to do the things I loved the most while having the freedom to create my own schedule and generate an income that could support me and my family.  I created this plan within a matter of one month.  I then spent the next four years coming up with any excuse to NOT launch that plan.  I was terrified.

In the ever-changing economic and social media landscape, I had to scrap a majority of that plan and create new ones as I procrastinated.  In fact I was constantly changing it and telling myself a myriad of lies about why I couldn’t launch my dream yet.  Finally, with a lot of prodding from my mentor and coach, I launched.  I would love to say that I never looked back… but I did, often.  I wrestled with fear so much that it became my constant companion. Do you know what was behind that fear?

Forget what you think you know about fear.  Most of us believe that we fear bad things happening to us.  While that may be the case at times, the fear of bad things happening to us is not what limits us the most.  Fear limits us in much more predictable ways and most of the time we are completely unaware that it is happening.  I’m talking about the fear of the unknown.  More to the point… fear of the unfamiliar.

We are such creatures of habit.  We love the comfortable… and the familiar is extremely comfortable. Even if what we are familiar with isn’t healthy. 

Why is it that a spouse will stay with their partner even when they are abusive?  It’s familiar.  Why does the man who has lost 140 lbs. end up gaining it back, even after a year of creating new habits?  His old weight and the way he lived his life at that weight is familiar.  Why does the woman who won the lottery end up wasting it all within a matter of months?  She’s familiar with a certain lifestyle and longs for the comfort of it.

Even if you have recently made changes that have raised your quality of life across the boards, fear of the unfamiliar will tag along like an unwanted guest at a party and raise your levels of anxiety.  A longing for the familiar can tie us down and eventually cage us in if we aren’t aware that it’s happening. 

This is why so many people dream about what life would be like if things broke good for them, yet when an opportunity genuinely presents itself, they rationalize themselves out of taking the risk.  I know this well because I’ve experienced it several times in my life… even recently.  I love the comfortable and the familiar.  But more than that, I love growth.  It’s one of the things that I value the most.  I need growth.  I need a challenge to respond to.  I need to struggle and figure things out.  It’s a part of my DNA.  That’s when I feel most alive.  I’ll say it again.  I love comfort and familiarity… but I love growth more.

We all love the familiar.  But let me ask you this.  What do you love more?  And what will your life look like one year from now if you don’t make the changes you know will raise your quality of life?  Find that thing or those things that you love more than the familiar and run, don’t walk, towards them.  Charge if you must.  And don’t worry so much about your fears right now.  After you make the changes you want, there will be new fears waiting for you that you can get familiar with.  That’s a guarantee.

"Growth demands a temporary surrender of security. It may mean giving up familiar but limiting patterns, safe but unrewarding work, values no longer believed in, and relationships that have lost their meaning." - John C. Maxwell
"If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading." - Lao Tzu
"People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar." - Thich Nhat Hanh