How much does fear control your decision process? It’s a simple question, and one that can be answered quite easily with a quick, “very little,” but are you being truly honest with yourself? For many, I would say, fear is one of the driving factors in many of the career decisions or indecisions we take. From fear of losing our job to fear of making the wrong choice to fear that we won’t ever find the right position, we get stuck in a never-ending cycle of repetitive, predictable behavior that only hurts us in the end.
For me, fear leads me to sit in front of the computer too much during the day, worried that if I move from my spot, my clients will all come calling. Without me there, they will grow angry and look for someone to replace me. Or the fear that funding will run out on current projects, which will force me to quickly find another one.
The funny thing about all this is of course, these are things that could happen. In fact, the second fear is something that will likely happen as clients do not ever last forever. But neither of them deserve the dinner that I constantly feed the fear, since as long as I control what I can control, nothing too terrible will happen to me. My clients know that I’ll respond to them as soon as I can. If clients do decide they need to pull funds, I know that I can work to find other projects. After all, I’ve done it before. So why do I decide to play into these fears so whole-heartedly?
I don’t know. I can’t answer it, myself. I think it’s because I give them credence everyday, that they continue to feed on itself. It’s that fear that continues to build and build and build, until I’m unable to change my behavior. By doing what I’m doing, I allow that fear to continue to creep in.
Don’t get me wrong, some fear is good. For instance, the fear that you might not do well on the project will drive you to do the best that you can. But when it gets out of line, and you end up starving yourself of food or sleep, in order to get a few more minutes with it, then maybe the fear has overtaken the situation.
And that’s how I evaluate my fears now. Do they truly help my current plans? Are they a driving factor behind my growing success? Or are they hurting my potential by forcing me to focus on things I wouldn’t normally focus on? It’s not easy, but better than letting them run amok.
The same could be said for the fear of quitting your job. If the fear of quitting is because you don’t want to give the presentation, or you think your boss expects too much out of your skills, then it sounds like fear is keeping you from focusing on what really matters, which is doing a great job. And your fear that you will fail is making you do a better job, and you will find it rewarding in the end. But if your fear is because you don’t think you can make it on your own or find a new job or find something you’re more suited for what you truly enjoy doing, then you should reevaluate the fear. Because, in that case, often that fear is holding you back from your future and your true calling in life.
Use fear to drive you. Don’t allow fear to keep you from doing what you truly want to do. The difference will define how you move along in your career and life.