Some women I coach feel incredibly fearful when faced with questions such as, “What do you do for work?”, “What are you passionate about?”, or “Where do you see yourself in five years?” As women, we must find a way to overcome fear, otherwise this tricky devil has a way of kidnapping our dreams, and destroying our passion. We can’t let that happen, can we? When it comes to decisions about your job or career goals, follow these three steps to overcome your fear, and take control of your life.
1. Acknowledge your fear. Sometimes the fears we have are buried so deeply in our subconscious, that we don’t realize how much power they are exerting over our actions, or our lack of action. To stop fear in its tracks, the first thing that must be done, is to identify the fear, and then articulate it by writing it down in a simple one-sentence format. I’m afraid that I’ll apply to a bunch of jobs, and no one will want to hire me. I’m afraid that I’ll never find my passion. I’m afraid that I’ll get the job, but I won’t be able to perform at the level they’ll expect me to.
2. Figure out what you are really afraid of and identify the underlying root fear. This can be as simple as asking yourself, “What am I really afraid of in this situation?”, or “What could happen next?” Your mind will give up the goods faster than you can believe. Once you get past your surface fear (I’m worried that they won’t respond to my email), and reach the underlying root fear, (I’m afraid I’m not good enough), you can begin to deal with the real issue, whether it be your self-esteem, or confidence, or a personal limitation that is preventing you from making progress and finding your dream job.
As it turns out, there are two universal human fears, two things that every human being on this planet worries about in some form. The first is that we are not enough, and the second is that we won’t be loved. When we focus our attention on these fears, on what could go wrong, we feel small and weak, and usually resign ourselves to watching TV or sleeping, instead of doing the very things that can and will change our life for the better. (I know this is certainly true for me.) But when we focus on our potential instead of our fear, we unleash the energy we need to make positive changes in our life.
3. Create a Compelling Future. In order to mobilize all of your energy to fight for your dreams, you need to visualize what your life will look like in the future, if you continue to focus on your fear instead of your potential. Then do the reverse, and visualize what your future life will look like if you act courageously, and do something that scares you, despite your fear.
What will your life look like in ten or twenty years if you continue down the path of fear? Create a vivid image in your mind of what your life will look like, if you continue to let fear dictate what you do and how you live. Everyone will have a different image. Perhaps it’s just sitting on your couch at the age of 45, knowing that you still haven’t lived up to your potential. Or maybe you will picture yourself with a life that looks fine from the outside. But on the inside, you will feel deep sadness, knowing that you settled for a mediocre career and a mediocre life, even though you were meant to do so much more.
What will your life look like in ten or twenty years if you actually make your dream career a reality? Now imagine your dream life in ten years. It doesn’t matter if your dream involves working in an office for a company you are passionate about, traveling throughout the world to meet with potential clients, or running a small online-business from home, while taking care of your family. What’s important is that it’s your dream life, that it has meaning for you.
Describe your dream career and dream life in detail. How often do you work? Where do you work? What types of problems do you solve each day? How do you spend your free time and energy? When you get a very clear image of a compelling future, you can use that image to make a wise decision, and invest your energy in following through with it. Deciding what you want to do is always the first step toward creating positive changes that will lead to a better life. If you take these three steps seriously and really dig deeply, you may uncover a dream that is too exciting to turn away from. You may even realize you are finally ready to make a big change, to take action, and to start living the life you really want to live.