I don’t like stepping out of my comfort zone. When I was three years old, I was scared to go down the slide at the park. When I say scared, I mean completely and utterly terrified. My parents did their best to encourage me to go down the slide.
They told me nothing would happen to me. They told me I would be safe. But still I refused. Finally, they got through to me. I went down the slide and I was hooked. I went back down the slide over and over until my parents got dizzy watching me and took me home.
Throughout my life, there have been many moments where I’ve allowed fear to rule. Roller coasters at amusement parks, tests in school, new jobs, marriage, kids – every time a life transition occurs, I’m transported back in time. At my core, I’m still that terrified three-year- old girl afraid to go down the slide.
Two months ago I decided to strike back at fear and do something crazy (and completely out of character). I quit my 9-5 job and launched my own business. Yes, you read that right. I quit my steady, reliable job in favor of an unsteady, uncertain career as an entrepreneur. Go figure.
Why did I make this change? Two reasons. One – I had just become a mom. My perspective on my career completely changed. I knew I didn’t want to commute into the city everyday only to have a few moments with my son each evening before bed.
No judgment on the rockstar moms who do this everyday – I just knew it wouldn’t work for me. The second reason is that my lifelong dream has been to work for myself. I loved the idea of making my own schedule (who doesn’t?) and trying new things. I knew I would grow professionally and learn a ton. And growth is always one of the biggest determining factors behind any change I make in my life.
With my husband on board, I quit my job and became a full-time “mompreneur.” But that’s not where the story ends. There was so much that led up to this major decision. As I agonized over what I should do and went through every scenario in my mind, I realized that there were five fears holding me back from pursuing my passion. I’m sharing them with you in case these fears are holding you back from something amazing too.
Fear of failure
Fear of failure has impacted my life significantly, especially my career. It’s also kept me from reaching my full potential and truly enjoying my life. As a kid, I was constantly afraid of failing. I was afraid of getting less than a B on a test. I was afraid of playing volleyball in gym class because I was convinced I wouldn’t hit the ball (which I didn’t sometimes, but hey, it was fourth grade). I was afraid of speaking up in class because I thought kids would laugh at me.
Naturally this fear was top of mind when I thought about starting a business. What if I didn’t get any clients? What if my business failed? What if I failed my husband who believed in me and my six-month- old son who depends on me?
How did I overcome this fear? Truth is, I’m still overcoming it. Every day I have to do battle against thoughts of failure. I have to tell myself that I’m not going to fail and that I have the power to build a successful, thriving business. If you’re thinking about taking a big leap in life – whether it’s a new job, new house, moving across the country, etc., fear of failure will always be present. That’s normal.
The key is to manage the fear so it doesn’t consume you. That starts with your mindset. Remind yourself of your successes. Make a list so you can look at it everyday. If you’ve been successful before, then you have every reason to believe you’ll succeed again.
Fear of not being good enough
Self-doubt is failure’s little sister. Both are closely interlinked. I’m afraid to fail because I doubt myself. What if I have nothing to offer my clients? What if my ideas aren’t good enough to generate results? There are so many entrepreneurs out there with better ideas than mine. How will I stand out and make a name for myself?
When it comes down to it, I wonder if I’m good enough. If we let self-doubt take over, we’ll never move forward. We’ll be stuck in the same spot for years, having the same internal debate in our heads. Sometimes the best way to overcome self-doubt is to force yourself to make a move. Once you make that first move, then make a second move. They don’t have to be big moves. Just as long as you’re moving forward. As you make progress, your confidence will increase and you’ll start to believe that you can be successful. The ‘fake it till you make it’ concept really does work.
Fear of discomfort
Change is a departure from what you’re used to. Any change, even if it’s positive, is uncomfortable. Starting my own business was a complete departure from what I had always known. It also came at a time when my entire life had changed. I was a mom and suddenly responsible for another human life. So even though I was stepping out of my comfort zone when I launched my business, I was already uncomfortable with recent changes in my life (no matter how amazing.) That made it a little easier to make the jump into owning a business.
Many people fear stepping out of their comfort zone. They don’t want to adjust to something new. They will never act on their feelings. They will stay in the same boring, dead-end job until they retire. Or they’ll remain in a relationship that they know is toxic and abusive. Or they simply won’t pursue a new opportunity because they’re not sure what lies ahead.
Trust your gut. You already know what’s best. You just need to work up the courage to act on it. One thing that has helped me is confiding in a close friend or family member, or mentor. Sometimes we need someone else to tell us what we should do (even if we already know the answer).
Fear of financial ruin
I’d be lying if I said money wasn’t a HUGE obstacle to starting my own business. I just had a baby. Money was already tight. And here I was, considering something that would make things even tighter. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
In order to overcome my financial fears, I had to acknowledge what was really important. It sure isn’t our bank account. If I made the decision based solely on finances, then starting my own business wouldn’t have been the smart choice. But if we make all of our decisions for money, we’ll end up pretty unhappy. Life isn’t about money. Period. Our society would have you think so, but it’s just not true. If there’s something you’re passionate about, but you may not make as much money doing it, don’t let that stop you. Weigh the other options – mainly, will it improve your quality of life? If so, then you know what you need to do.
Fear of judgment
The world is not a judgment-free zone. People judge each other constantly. And in our digital society, there’s no escape. One of the concerns I had about launching my own business was whether I’d hear criticism from others – especially my industry peers. Would they think my idea was silly? Would they hate the name of my company? Would they hate my logo? I wasn’t sure I was brave enough to make my passion known to the world.
Luckily I had people around me who pushed me to make this leap. People whose opinions I greatly respect. People who know the work I am capable of. People who believe in me. I may not have been brave enough on my own, but their support gave me all the bravery I needed – and then some.
Here’s the thing: someone will always judge you for something. You could pick the safest option possible and someone would still have something to say. You can’t make decisions while worrying about what others think. Make decisions for yourself and stand proud behind them. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek the advice of people you trust. It means you shouldn’t seek the advice of the entire world. This is your life and you decide how you want to live it.
Next time you’re making a decision that can change the course of your life, stop and let yourself experience fear. Acknowledge it. Process it. Then shove it aside. You’ve got big things to accomplish.