[Trust 30] Facing (and Fearing)

Facing (and Fearing) by Dan Andrews

Greatness appeals to the future. If I can be firm enough to-day to do right, and scorn eyes, I must have done so much right before as to defend me now. Be it how it will, do right now. Always scorn appearances, and you always may. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Trusting intuition and making decisions based on it is the most important activity of the creative artist and entrepreneur. If you are facing (and fearing) a difficult life decision, ask yourself these three questions:

1) “What are the costs of inaction?” I find it can be helpful to fight fear with fear. Fears of acting are easily and immediately articulated by our “lizard brains” (thanks Seth) e.g. what if I fail? what if I look stupid? If you systematically and clearly list the main costs of inaction, they will generally overshadow your immediate fears.

2) “What kind of person do I want to be?” I’ve found this question to be extremely useful. I admire people who act bravely and decisively. I know the only way to join their ranks is to face decisions that scare me. By seeing my actions as a path to becoming something I admire, I am more likely to act and make the tough calls.

3) “In the event of failure, could I generate an alterative positive outcome?” Imagine yourself failing to an extreme. What could you learn or do in that situation to make it a positive experience? We are generally so committed to the results we seek at the outset of a task or project that we forget about all the incredible value and experience that comes from engaging the world proactively, learning, and improving our circumstances as we go along.

1. The costs of inaction are:

  • spending my days working for someone else on their terms
  • spending at least 40 hours away from my family and my home
  • never realizing my dream of becoming a published author
  • never realizing my dream of working for myself
  • wasting the best years of my life, only to retire when I’m too old to enjoy myself

2. I want to be a loving wife and mother. I want to change and touch lives by helping others use their words to the best of their abilities. I want to achieve that zen-like quality that some of my favorite people seem to exude so easily.

3. To be totally honest, I’m not sure at this juncture. I do realize that it was my barrier to affordable tutoring that prevented me from becoming a veterinarian, and at the time I was so paralyzed by the fear of failure and the lack of backup planning that I couldn’t imagine what else to do with my career. I took a career class to help me determine what else I could and would like to do with my life and discovered that I was “suited” to become a technical writer. I latched onto the idea of becoming a writer and pursued a degree in English. After graduating, I’ve mostly worked in an administrative capacity, so I know I’ll always have that backup plan waiting for me. However, I know I can learn a lot from my students and clients, and I’m very open to their stories and experiences. I know I have an advocate in me, and I’m sure I could potentially do something related to advocacy — and I’m sure I could do that for myself, as in being my own boss.

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