“When you play it too safe, you’re taking the biggest risk of your life. Time is the only wealth we’re given.” – Barbara Sher
Do you fear change? Does “change anxiety” hold you back from something you’ve always wanted to do? I’ll let you in on a little secret: for years, I allowed fear to stop me in my tracks from making a wanted change.
Although I enjoyed practicing law, I’ve known from the beginning that I didn’t want to practice past age 55 (please don’t ask why age 55, as I can’t explain it). And by the time I was in my mid-thirties, I knew I wanted to make a change sooner rather than later.
In fact, a tiny voice in the back of my head was telling me that I wasn’t using my gifts the way I should be. There was something else that I’d be better at – and happier doing. Something that could make a greater difference in the world.
But I didn’t listen to this voice – at least not initially. I assumed that one day I’d miraculously figure out what else I’d do and make the change. Never mind that I had no clear idea how I’d make it happen (or what I’d do).
So, I pushed this voice away and tried not to listen to it. And yet, it kept whispering to me.
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Why Do We Fear Change?
Like me, most people fear change. Why? I think it’s partly human nature. This fear is also stamped into us from a young age by our elders.
Change is risky, especially once we’re “settled” in what we do. We fear change because the future is unknown. And we’ve convinced ourselves that the unknown is scarier than our current state. Even if we aren’t happy or fulfilled. Even if we’re miserable.
Lucky for me, I’ve overcome my fear and left my legal career behind. You may be asking how I did that. One word: cancer. My cancer battle changed my perspective on virtually everything. And that includes how I view risk.
Much of what I considered risky before no longer seems so risky. And I now see that there’s risk in NOT making a wanted change – even when this change is immense.
So, I’m sharing with you how and why I shifted my perspective. Because it shouldn’t be necessary to have cancer to overcome your fear of change. Especially when we’re talking about a deep desire within you that could lead to fulfillment.
How to Overcome Fear of Change
If there’s a whispering voice in your head that you’ve been ignoring, I’ve got some advice for you.
First, listen to the voice (let it come to the surface).
By pushing the voice to the back, you’re making these changes seem much scarier than they really are. Besides, listening will permit you to think about what you want to change, why you want this change, and how to best make it happen. It will give you some much-needed guidance and allow you to plan in a way that isn’t so scary.
Second, imagine what your life would look like if you do and don’t make a change – and compare what you’ll gain if you make a change with what you won’t have if you don’t make a change.
Ask yourself what you’ll gain and how your life will look if you make this change. What about it will be different? And then ask yourself what you life will look if you don’t change anything. And how would that feel? Be sure that you’re honest with yourself when you answer these questions.
Finally, ask yourself what you’re losing out on if you don’t make any changes.
Is the unknown scarier than not changing anything? If the answer is no, then you’re ready to move past your fear.
Change will happen regardless – so you may as well take control over it.
These questions have been bombarding me the past few years. And, once my perspective shifted, I realized that change wasn’t so scary after all. In fact, I knew with certainty that I was ready to listen to my whispering voice.
Because changing my career no longer seemed risky to me. Not changing it did. Funny how a change in perspective can turn things around.
Because of my cancer battle, you may think it’s easier for me to perceive change as less risky. And you’re right. But that doesn’t mean that you must face your mortality before your perspective shifts.
The truth is, no single decision is as important as we believe. We can always change course. And we have complete control over whether and when we change course – including right now. This simple truth can change everything. Empowering, isn’t it?
Besides, change happens in our lives regardless of whether we choose it. To believe that change won’t happen because you choose not to do something you want is crazy. The difference is that we’re talking about having control over something that changes.
This realization allowed me to make a huge change to my life. March 31st was my last day practicing law (at least for now). I’m starting a life and business coaching business – which I’ll explain in more detail over the coming weeks/month.
Many people I know have told me that I’m brave for making this change. But I don’t see it that way. I’m not being particularly brave. I know that I’ll never regret it – but I would regret it if I didn’t try. For me, it’s much riskier not to try than to continue to ignore the voice in my head and allow fear to hold me back.
Are you ready to make a change to your life?
So, what changes have been whispering to you? Are you going to listen to that voice (or will you continue to ignore it and do nothing).
In the comments below, I want to hear from you. What change would you like to make that you haven’t yet gotten started on? What’s been holding you back? Go public. It won’t be so scary once you do. And, if you’re ready to move forward and commit to acting, tell me what you’re committing to do. It’s time to be brave and stop allowing fear to rule you.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Until next time…