Top 5 Fears that Stop Us From Pursuing a Career We Could Love

"At 8 years old, we dreamed and we tried new things. Fear didn't rule our lives. How can we bring more of that 8 year old mentality into our lives as adults?" -John Coyle

"At 8 years old, we dreamed and we tried new things. Fear didn't rule our lives. How can we bring more of that 8 year old mentality into our lives as adults?" -John Coyle

I talk to a lot of people, whether I'm on a date, chatting with (potential) clients or meeting up with friends and family. We inevitably talk a lot about goals and dreams and the fears around taking risks that could make career and life super exciting, instead of just comfortable. Comfortable can be nice (and for some, is the goal... those people know who they are), but let's face it, for many people, comfortable is safe and can feel monotonous at times. It can turn into living life on autopilot, which makes time FLY, and as we get older, that can feel really scary! Before we know it, we feel like we're surrounded in fear no matter what decision we make! 

We want our lives to be full while we get to live on this planet! There's scientific research that supports how taking risk and forcing ourselves to do new things can actually slow down our perception of time, not to mention, make life more exciting! But in order to achieve the excitement, we do have to risk the negative emotions that could come with it.

So what are the top 5 fears that stop us?

  1. Failure
    • "If I set out to try my passion project, I could fail, my dreams would be crushed, and I'd have nothing to look forward to doing one day. Not to mention, I'd be really embarrassed to tell people it didn't work. Humiliation is painful and I don't know if my self-esteem would recover."
  2. Isolation
    • "I don't know many (if any) people who are taking big risks. If I decide to take a risk and tell my network and loved ones about it, they will most likely call my idea crazy. They even might call me selfish for risking the good I already have in my life. I don't know if I can handle that. I can't risk that lonely feeling of not being supported."
  3. Money
    • "If I'm going to try out my passion as a career, I'm not going to be able to sustain my lifestyle and that lifestyle is important to me (and my significant other and kids). I have savings, but that's reserved for emergencies, not as a passion project slush fund."
  4. Unclear path to success/loss of control
    • "My corporate path to success is clear (though I question whether I want it).  If I take the risk of doing something I love, I don't have a clear path to achieve it. It feels very out of my control and that's scary because life has been linear and relatively predictable until this point."
  5. Imposter syndrome

One of my current favorite sources of inspiration is the "How I Built This" podcast with Guy Raz. The stories are incredible and when I listen to them, I notice trends across some fantastically interesting people that have changed how we live today. Almost every single one of them talks about these fears, and how they overcame them. I can speak to them all occurring in my life as well and I want to share a few solutions with you that may be helpful if fear is holding you back from making a change in your life or career:

  1. Map out the worst possible scenario: What would it look like? Is it really as bad as you're making it out to be in your head? Would you survive? Grow stronger from the experience? Make new friends throughout the process with similar experiences or passions? Would your family really disown you? The fear in our heads is typically a lot worse than it would be in reality.
  2. Spend time thinking about your "Why:"  Why is this endeavor important to you? Think long and hard about it... Journal about it. Could it potentially be really important to others too? Could it change lives? Did it change yours? Are you doing the world a disservice by not doing it (you very well may be; remember, you are the only YOU, and the only one that can execute your endeavor your way!)? Connecting to your reason for taking a risk helps you become more comfortable with discomfort and serves as a mission to support to you, if you decide to start! 
  3. Take a tiny step outside your comfort zone: Reach out to someone who inspires you, comment on an interesting blog post or article. Even if you don't get a response, you're putting yourself out there in a really low risk way. You can grow from there to listening to podcasts, going to seminars, or meet up groups. You are never alone on your endeavor, and when you take small steps, and hold yourself accountable to keep going, the change slowly (and magically) becomes more attainable. Focus and consistency are key.
  4. Trust your gut! There is a reason you are thinking about change... listen to your intuition; it rarely (if ever) will lead you down the wrong path. When you truly listen to it, you don't regret what you tried, even if it does fail.

The real question to ask yourself is, would you regret not trying to pursue that idea? If you would, then why not start small and create a plan? If something matters a lot to you, you and your supporters will find a way to get there. As you start facing fears, and notice your small victories, it becomes a lot easier to keep going!

Are you curious if you're ready for a career change? Take my free quiz!