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You’re Supposed To Be Scared


I’m scared people will think I’m a total spazz for leaving my stable, good-paying job to do something else.

I’m afraid nobody will see my work experience as relevant to another type of work.

What if I pick the wrong thing? Or what if I finally figure out what I want, but then I can’t have it?

I’m afraid I’ll lose everything I’ve worked for.

A career change is scary by design. Because it involves jumping from something you know a lot about – something you’ve developed a certain level of comfort with (even if you hate it) – into new and unfamiliar territory.

Anyone who has ever made a career change, including me, is terrified before they do it. And here’s why: we’re all scared that we’ll fuck it up somehow and end up living in a van down by the river.

This is why a lot of people never actually make the career changes they desperately long for. It’s just TOO. DAMN. SCARY.

But maybe it’s also worth it.

I watched an awesome interview the other day. Oprah Winfrey interviewed Iyanla Vanzant and when Iyanla told Oprah about some very scary changes in her own life she jokingly said,

“There comes a moment in your life when you’re getting ready to step into a new place. In that place you should be so scared that there’s a little pee running down your leg…If you don’t have a little pee running down your leg then you’re not living big enough.”

I friggin’ LOVE that! I love it because it gets at an essential truth, and that is: the big stuff is supposed to be scary.

The most important, most defining decisions of our lives are usually also the scariest. And if you want to live BIG you’re going to have to walk through some fear. There’s no way around it. You don’t get to magically somehow conquer fear and then take action. You have to make your move despite the fear. The fear comes with you.

This is excruciatingly inconvenient, I know. But that’s how change works. Fear is a non-negotiable part of it.

Maybe you thought that the people out there living big lives and doing scary things were somehow fearless. Nope. They’re just moving forward despite the fear.

So what kind of fears and risks are worth moving through? Only you know that. Different people have different desires and different tolerances for risk, and so taking a chance on a particular thing might be worth it for one person, but not another, depending on what that thing is.

But if you want to live BIG you should take some risk. How much and in what form is entirely up to you. I recommend anything ranging from something that gives you nervous butterflies to something that stops just short of total loss of bladder control (and if that makes Iyanla braver than me, so be it).

Now, knowing what risks are worth taking is not the same thing as knowing exactly how things will pan out. Because (spoiler alert) that’s not possible. So if absolute certainty is what you’re waiting for, you’re just going to keep waiting, my friend. Quite possibly until the day you die.

Ouch. Harsh, I know. But also true.

So what do you do with all that fear and indecision? First, you admit what you want, which is pretty damn scary in itself. Then you acknowledge the fear. It’s there anyway, so you might as well acknowledge it. And then you ask, Is this thing I want worth it?

Only you know.


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